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Brilliant Business Plans: 3 Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Yours

By Carolyn Ellis

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood. ~ Daniel Burnham

What’s your big game plan for this business year? Have you got your year – your business, your life, your health, or whatever you’re called to uplevel — all mapped out perfectly?

Making business plansYou know – are your goals and plans put in your calendar, entered into spreadsheets, glued onto vision boards, added to your “to do” lists and Blackberry yet? Are you feeling on top of your road map to success? If you are, thanks for stopping by and there’s no need for you to read further.

Or perhaps you are feeling behind the eight ball in terms of getting your act together. I’m talking about having a tightness in your chest and a pit in your stomach.

It’s that feeling that no matter how fast you run, you’re not entirely sure you’ll get there. Sometimes you forget where you put your finish line anyway.

There’s nothing like a new beginning to trigger an intense cocktail of fresh optimism and hope, with a dash of overwhelm, fear of failure and confusion about how to make sense of it all.

Like a salmon ready to spawn knows it has to get back to the river it was originally born in, we know we’re supposed to create super-duper plans of action at the start of a brand-spanking new year.

Planning is a huge topic and I work on this continuously with my clients, but I would like to distill down three key pitfalls you’ll want to avoid in your 2011 planning process.

Mistake #1 – Make Someone Else’s Plan Your Own Plan

One of the biggest pitfalls I see people making is not creating a plan that is congruent with their authentic self. It can make good business sense to learn from some of the marketing gurus or mentors.

But please don’t blindly adopt their strategies, plans and schedules thinking that it will be a fast road to success and cash flow. When designing your brilliant business, it must be sourced from a place of deep authenticity and alignment with who YOU truly are. Ensure that your plan reflects your values, priorities and creativity.

Mistake #2 – Leading from Your Head, Not Your Heart

As coaches, we were trained to help our clients develop plans in a pretty systematic way. Make sure the goal feels like a stretch and that it is S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, time-bound). These are all great tools that the head and intellect loves to play with.

But the important starting point for your Brilliant Plan must come from your heart. If you were to strip things down to their most essential elements, what would your heart identify as the most important calling or priority you have for 2011? Could you answer that question more clearly if you knew this was your last year in your physical body?

Forget about figuring out “how” to make it happen for now. But the first step in successful planning is to have the entire process anchored into a heart-centered, feeling-infused sense of your purpose.

Mistake #3 – Not Leaving Room for Grace and Space

One huge mistake people make (and I still have to check myself on this one too) is overestimating how much we can take on and grossly underestimating how much time it takes to get things done. We plan our schedules so we’re in a time bind right off the starting blocks.

Throw in a few unexpected delays or setbacks and there’s nothing like that feeling of drowning in overwhelm to squelch your creativity and inspiration. Remember you are not the Planning Director for the Universe. Leave some breathing space in your plan.

Don’t be so rigidly attached to your plan that you are unwilling to take advantage of the grace that is always around us, showing us unexpected opportunities and resources that were never a part of our plan in the first place. Planning is a great tool for sure, but leave room for your brilliance and magic to emerge fully.

Step Into Your Brilliance

Block off 15 minutes this week to create some quiet time. Bearing these 3 mistakes in mind, reflect upon and journal your answers to the following questions.

  1. What are my three highest priorities and values?
  2. How can I best express them this year? What can that look like? What will that feel like to manifest them fully?
  3. What is one activity or priority I know in my heart I need to say good-bye to so I can allow more space and grace into my life?

© 2011 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved

Carolyn Ellis is the founder of Brilliance Mastery ™, a program that helps women entrepreneurs own their brilliance so the mission of their business can be communicated clearly, powerfully and profitably. Carolyn is a certified Money, Marketing & Soul Coach, the creator of the THRIVE Principles ™, founder of Thrive After Divorce, and the award-winning author of The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce. She publishes “Bits of Brilliance”, a weekly e-newsletter that offers inspiration, wisdom and support for the woman entrepreneur or business owner who is committed to living her brilliance. For more information and to get a copy of her special report “The 7 Secrets to Unlocking Your Brilliance as a Woman Entrepreneur”, visit




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