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The Business Plan That Always Works

by Michael Gerber

Yes, believe it or not, there is such a plan

a business plan that always works. And believe it or not, you’re going to learn how to create such a plan, your plan, in the next few moments.

For those of you who believe deep down in the recesses of your cynically disposed hearts that there can’t possibly be anything that always worksespecially a planthe following is going to be a bit of a stretch for you. But hang in with me here. The Business Plan That Always Works is so devilishly simple and straightforward you’ll wonder why you didn’t see it before.

That’s the beauty of it, this Business Plan That Always Works: It’s so very simple. And that’s probably the primary reason it always works. The Business Plan That Always Works is so simple that anyone who understands it can do it. Despite what you’ve learned over the years, planning is only hard when it’s done the wrong way. And to develop a plan easily requires that you approach the whole subject of planning in a completely different way than you are accustomed. But I’m getting ahead of my story.

The Business Plan That Always Works is built upon one fundamental principle that all the plans that never work fail to understand. I call the fundamental principle the “Heart-centered Principle of Planning.”

Now, bear with me here. I know this could begin to test your hidebound impatience. You’re world-wise and world-weary. You’ve seen everything, done everything, been beaten up by everything. You know with every close-to-cynical breath you breathe that language used capriciously can be a dangerous thing. After all, don’t you do that for a livinguse language to produce results? Well, of course you do. Don’t we all? And it can get us all into serious trouble.

The Heart-centered Plan is so distinctly different than its opposite, the Head-centered Plan, that it’s important to define the distinctions carefully. There are seven essential rules of heart-centered planning required to create the Business Plan That Always Works. They are:

Rule One:
Heart-centered planning begins and ends with a feeling, while head-centered planning begins and ends with a thought. To understand this rule, it is critical that you know the difference between a thought and a feeling. Most people don’t. (Don’t laugh, they really don’t!) Most people confuse their thoughts and their feelings. How do you know the difference? A feeling resides inside your body; a thought resides inside your head. Most of what you’re doing as you read this article is a thought that will turn into a feeling rather than a feeling that will turn into a thought. Heart-centered planning starts with a feeling, turns into a thought, and ends with a feeling. Head-centered planning begins with a thought, turns into a feeling, and ends with a thought. The rule here is that any plan that ends up in your head is a thought, and because of that, won’t work.

The Business Plan That Always Works is dominated by your feelings, not by your thoughts. And because of that, it is propelled forward because you want it to work, as the expression says, with all your heart. The point I’m making here is that despite everything you’ve been taught to the contrary, cerebral motivation has no momentum of its own. Thoughts die cold and lonely. A plan that describes the future with no heart is a plan destined to fail. The Business Plan That Always Works, therefore, is a plan that begins and ends in your heartwhich means that it is a living plan, not a dead one; which means that it possesses an enormous amount of energy, often described as passion. And we all know what passion can do when it’s poured into a personal cause. That is what the Business Plan That Always Works is, after alla personal cause filled with passion.

Rule Two:
Because heart-centered planning begins and ends in your heart, the second rule is that the plan must be your plan and no one else’s. It must begin with you and end with you. Any plan created by someone else on your behalf will absolutely never work. And no matter how hard you try to implement someone else’s plan, no matter how hard you work at it, even if you succeed at fulfilling its objectives, you will ultimately feel like you failed. Winning with someone else’s plan has always felt like losing. In short, the Business Plan That Always Works is always the product of the person who is following the planoriginal to him or her, personal to the max, born in the heart, and, because of that, very, very private. The second rule says, “Don’t go outside of yourself for your plan because you can’t find it there.”

Rule Three:
The way to know what your heart wants is to stop thinking about it. To discover your plan, stop thinking about it. Pursue something else. Spend a day, two days, a weekit doesn’t matter how longbut accomplish this objective: Spend free time doing something you truly love to do that you don’t ordinarily do because you can’t afford the time or the money to do it, whether skiing, boating, fishing, dreaming, hiking, running, or something else. For each of us it’s different, but it does matter that you know what it is.

The truth is, we spend little time truly loving what we do or doing what we love. Instead, we spend most of our time wishing that what we are doing could be more fulfilling. The reason for this is that we are mostly disconnected from our hearts, and we spend the preponderance of our time actively pursuing thoughts about what we would be doing if we were happy rather than experiencing what it means to be joyful in our hearts in the moment. So, to create the Business Plan That Always Works calls for us to experience, as fully as possible, the end product of an exciting plan, which is the experience of joy that your plan must create for you in order for it to work for you. And to experience that joy requires that we spend more time before we create our plan, tasting the emotional fruits of it.

Rule Four:
Most people think of a business plan as a series of benchmarks or objectives. There is such a plan, but that’s not what I’m talking about. A series of benchmarks or objectives delineates actions to be taken in a progressively completed process, but fails to provide the inner motivation essential for a plan to become a realization. While the steps must be identified before anything purposeful can be done, the essence of the Business Plan That Always Works is always able to be summarized in a brief, declarative statement that begins with “I want...,” and ends with an experience of having moved forward from where you are. It can be demonstrated by your new ability to do something you love to do more often than you are able to do it now. For example, “I want to be able to spend eight days white-water rafting in Montana on the..., etc., etc.” Note that the objective here is not something to have, but something to experience. To feel yourself experiencing something you love before you actually experience it is tantamount to experiencing it.

Experiencing the experience is core to the successful realization of the Business Plan That Always Works because it distracts you from your head (where thoughts reside) and puts you squarely in your body (where feelings reside). Put another way, the experience at the beginning of the plan, tied to the experience at the end of the plan, creates an emotional bridge for you to cross. Without that emotional bridge, most of us find ourselves sweating around among the stones, boulders, and mud beneath the bridge, completely oblivious to the fact that the bridge even exists!

Rule Five:
Having created an emotionally exciting picture of what you want, it is critical that you create a series of frames of reference within which you achieve it over a specific amount of time. A frame of reference is like a landing reached on your way up a mountain. It enables you to taste the climb, while resting with a look back and a look forward. Anyone who has ever done this (and we all have to some degree or another) knows the personal inner joy that comes from resting on the way forward, while getting a clear sense of where we’ve come from and a new picture of where we’re going.

As a boy, I used to go to Yosemite with my parents. We would climb for a few hours at a time up the long sloping trail of one mountain or another, stopping from time to time to sit on granite boulders by the side of the traillooking out over the valley, tasting the cool fresh air, and listening to the waterfalls off in the distance. There has been very little I’ve experienced in my life that is permeated by such sweetness as those experiences. Those climbings and stoppings. Those moments of looking back and looking forward.

The Business Plan That Always Works must allow for those precious, sweet moments, those continuous frames of reference, because without them, there is just the incessant climbing, the reaching for the top, the obsession that comes from an impatient thought, the drive to reach a conclusion. Most plans are like that. They drive us, but they don’t renew us. They compel us, but they don’t reward us. Such plans may move us forward, but every part of our body ends up resisting the movement even while obeying its dictate. This is the planning of “you should,” and “you’d better,” rather than the planning that comes from an inner desire, a taste of freedom, a wish for renewal.

Rule Six:
The plans we create reflect the life we live rather than the life we want to live. This may seem opposite of everything I’ve been saying up to now, but, in fact, it is not. To create the Business Plan That Always Works, we must be passionately interested in who we are and what it is that moves us. To do this, we must every day ask ourselves this question, “Who am I?” and then answer it!

The fascinating thing about creating the Business Plan That Always Works is that it calls for us to go inside more deeply than we would imagine. This planning has more to do with who we are than with who we are going to become. The fact is that anyone who has done this work, that is, pursued their inner reality with a passion, has discovered that in the process of becoming more who we truly are, we discover what we want. And in that discovery, our plan becomes self-evident. “Oh, so that’s what I want,” this experience says. Or, put another way, “Oh, so that’s who I really am.” The sixth rule says that we must do this thing again and again until it’s a permanent fixture in our lives. Only then will the Business Plan That Always Works become self-evident.

Rule Seven:
Until we are able to accomplish rules one through six with ease, anything we do that closely resembles them is better than anything that doesn’t. In short, rule seven is a mantra“Follow your heart, or your head will destroy you.”

The most productive business planning is not thinking about ends, but experiencing means. It’s not about the objective, it’s about the process. It’s not about getting things, it’s about becoming more human. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about sitting on the edge of the mountain on the way up, neither going forward nor backward, to savor the intensely sweet joy of the moment. It’s not about pushing yourself, but about experiencing yourself.

And that is what the Business Plan That Always Works is essentially all about: To put you into a truer, more meaningful relationship with yourself.

The Business Plan That Always Works will put you there every single time. Who could ask for anything else?

This is Michael Gerber writing to you from the E-Myth Academy and reminding you that the opportunity is to go to work on your life not in it, and in the process, experience the sweet, radiant, extraordinary joy of the fully lived moment.

Michael Gerber is Chairman of The E-Myth Academy. A business visionary, entrepreneur, and best-selling author, he speaks to audiences throughout North America about “how to bring the dream back to American business.” Gerber has written several highly acclaimed books: The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, The Power Point, The E-Myth Revisited, and The E-Myth Manager: Why Management Doesn’t Work and What to Do About It. He can be reached at (800) 221-0266.

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