Are You a Jumper or a Planner?

Posted by on Jan 06 2015

There appears to be two types of small business owners:Those who jump right into running their business, and marketing their products and services, with little or no planning.

And those who plan a strategy — and a service or product design — before they ever dream of offering it to the public.

Is one better than the other?

Yes and no.

Planning often allows you the time to brainstorm and think through possible scenarios before you commit your time, energy and money into your business idea. Ninety-five percent of the time, I advocate planning, especially if you’re starting a new business or launching a new product or service. The time you spend with research and working through possible alternatives, as well as the time you spend thinking about how you might handle worse-case scenarios, will reap huge rewards later on.

On the other hand, over-planning often leads to inaction. A phrase I love sums it up: Analysis Paralysis — the inability to move forward on a project because you feel you don’t have all the facts, and are unwilling to move forward until you’re 100% sure of success. (Every small business owner will tell you that there’s no such thing as being 100% sure of anything.)

When is jumping okay?

Jumping is okay if you’ve already got a solid business foundation underneath you. This means that your finances are in order, you’ve already got a working business model that brings in reliable income and steady administrative processes that support your next great adventure. Jumping is okay if you’ve done as much research as you can and have a good sense that your project is viable, even if you’re not 100% certain of its success.

There is a place for jumping in the world of small business. Jumping allows you to be flexible, and to ride the wave of enthusiasm and passion. Jumping allows you to be 85% sure and then go for it. Good Jumping is action, combined with knowledge, courage and trust.

When to put planning first?

When you don’t have a lot of wiggle room for things to go wrong, planning is crucial. Planning is a must-have when you’re protecting the reputation of your business and your brand (do you want to be known as the owner who constantly crashes and burns?). And when there are a huge number of moving pieces — and you want to eventually put all those pieces into a repeatable system, then planning is essential.

In the end analysis, a combination of planning and jumping is required of all small business owners. The key is to find a balance point.


10 comments for now

10 Responses to “Are You a Jumper or a Planner?”

  1. I think I do both.

    I almost jumped into Twitter, but have decided I’ve been focusing too much on online marketing. My clients are local, so think I’ve spent too much time (while my kids are small and home with me) focusing on the www. Website referrals are great, but don’t think social networking is right for meeting clients that want a face to face counselor (especially if they are in another state/country). I was going to jump in because “everyone else is doing it.” After researching, I didn’t jump in, I jumped elsewhere.

    I finally read through your free ebook on networking. Wow, I have been missing out on opportunities right in front of me. I’ve been fine tuning my message, and am ready to meet some people. I’ve feared being too pushy, so then say a jumbled mess. Now, I am ready to share my message without being pushy, confidence without pressure! Thank you for taking the time to put the information together.

    16 Sep 2010 at 4:02 pm

  2. Karyn Greenstreet

    I’m glad you liked The Art of Networking, Marci!

    17 Sep 2010 at 6:45 am

  3. Hi, Karyn! A colleague recommended your website and I’m happy to find it! (I’m a jumper who has learned to plan. It doesn’t come naturally to me – that’s for sure!)

    I enjoyed reading this post and look forward to reading more!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    15 Nov 2010 at 3:01 pm

  4. Karyn Greenstreet

    Glad you found us, Tamara!

    15 Nov 2010 at 5:02 pm

  5. Great article, Karyn!

    I’m more of a planner, and am trying to be a bit more of a jumper! Why? For the reason you mentioned that over-planning can slow you down (and of me, I can get lost in the detail and all the choices). The other downside to that is sometimes success likes speed, so if you spend too much time planning, you can miss opportunities.

    But I definitely agree that in general one should look before they leap, but be will to take a jump when the odds are reasonably good, even if you don’t feel quite ready yet. Thinking on your feet and figuring it out is part of being an entrepreneur! 😉

    15 Jun 2012 at 7:54 am

  6. Karyn Greenstreet

    It’s hard to know when to plan and when to jump, Gabrielle. I think we’re pretty good about knowing when we’re spending too much time planning, but I’m not sure how many of us are good at knowing when we’re doing too much jumping. 🙂

    15 Jun 2012 at 8:17 am

  7. Very insightful post! I’m guilty of both…jumping right in to things I feel I can handle myself and planning to the extreme on issues that I don’t feel as confident in. I think each business owner needs to have a balance of the two because both jumping in and planning have benefits to them. Thanks for sharing!

    12 Jan 2015 at 2:26 pm

  8. […] get from goal setting to goal attainment. That’s where we hit potholes and brick walls. Being a planner rather than a jumper will get you results […]

    28 Jan 2015 at 6:10 am

  9. […] get from goal setting to goal attainment. That’s where we hit potholes and brick walls. Being a planner rather than a jumper will get you results […]

    06 Feb 2015 at 10:50 am

  10. […] get from goal setting to goal attainment. That’s where we hit potholes and brick walls. Being a planner rather than a jumper will get you results […]

    10 Feb 2015 at 10:27 am

Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time