Plan it on Paper

November 26th, 2013

How do you physically plan your business plans? If you are working in a group then I’m sure that flipcharts, Blu-tack, whiteboards and Post it 14577168_snotes play a big part in your business planning process. And I’m guessing that it’s only the final detail that makes it onto the computer. I can’t imagine a group planning session where the computer is the centre of attention!

Yes, computers have their place but I always start with good old pen and paper.

First I need to plan the big picture, and I need to be able to see it all as it develops. The 3 to 5 year vision and goals plan fits very well into this method.

  • I use post-it notes so I can reposition them as I go along.
  • I use postcards or old business cards, so that I can shuffle them into the right order.
  • I use coloured pens, asterisks, stars, boxes, highlighters etc. to link things together.

Then as I’m going through the process I can stand back and review what I see. It’s rather hard to stand back from the laptop and review it.

Everyone has their own methods of planning. If it’s your holiday packing for example, I’m guessing you use a checklist but that’s just one aspect. Several of my friends have a complete mind map; where they are going, finances, getting to the destination, things to take, things to do before they leave home etc. They want to, and can see the big picture.

In the same way, having your three year plan in a visual one pager has lots of advantages:


  • It’s easy to revise it three months on – you can see what needs to change
  • It’s easy to share your vision with your team
  • You can stand back, mull it over, adjusting where necessary
  • You can add a note or post it when an idea pops into your head – then you won’t lose it
  • And, you are more likely to use it to use a one page visual than a 20 page Word document.


Global business planning is no different. You need to be able to pull in lots of information, ideas, mini plans, financials, and that is so much easier on paper. The computer will force you to be too organised and can stifle your thought process. Megan Kerr’s  great blog Five Reasons You Should Plan On Paper will give you much more insight.

So, ditch the computer for a while, find a pen and paper, post-it notes or cards and get planning. Right now is the right time to get your big picture in place for 2014 – 2016.


Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter @coachsme