5 Core Planning Principles for Leading Your Impact-Driven Business

What is the point of running a business?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers…

“To maximize shareholder value”, the Fortune 500 company executives will say.

“To have a successful exit (sale)”, the start-up tech founder will say.

“To have freedom of my time and control over my future”, the lifestyle entrepreneur will say.

“To challenge myself and follow my passion”, the dreamer-doer entrepreneur will say.

Although these are common sentiments, we would argue they are all missing THE most significant point, or purpose, of running a business.

>> And that is to get results for a group of people.

To provide these people with some kind of positive value that creates meaningful transformation for them in some way.

The impact-driven entrepreneur gets this idea better than anyone!

If you are on a mission to create change through your work, you realize just how much of a positive difference your business can make in the lives of those you serve.

But with this knowledge comes a host of challenges.

The desire to be everything for everyone who needs you. To work on multiple layers of ‘the system’ at once. To make progress FAST (because your beneficiaries are waiting!).

When left unconstrained, all this passion can easily lead to overwhelm and eventually burnout. In our experience supporting hundreds of Impact Entrepreneurs from 23+ countries, we’ve seen it first hand.

So ask yourself this:

Are you being the best steward possible for introducing your impactful business into the world and growing it to serve everyone who needs it?

In other words, are your daily actions adding up into real meaningful results for your customers, and therefore your business overall?

If there’s room for improvement here, keep reading.

After all, with great vision comes great responsibility. (That’s how the saying goes, right?! 😉  )

If you feel called to contribute your gifts and experience towards solving a challenge faced by the world today, it’s up to YOU to take smart actions to bring that vision into reality, because no one else will do it for you!

The other reason you need to be a thoughtful action-taker for your purpose-driven business is that the reality is you have a limited time to ‘make it work’.

How long exactly depends on a lot of factors (which you can read about in another of our blog posts), but no matter your circumstances, if you’re not reaching your goals, eventually you will have to put your valuable time and resources into work that IS getting results (whether working for yourself or anyone else).

In our experience, one of the absolute best investments you can make in yourself as a leader is to practice excellent planning. Because when your actions line up with your vision, you build momentum and get results.

Which is why here we have outlined 5 Core Planning Principles for Leading Your Impact-Driven Business.

We are positive that the more you practice these 5 core planning principles, the better you can maximize your daily actions and give yourself the best chance possible to achieve your DREAM impact goals – for your business, and more importantly for your customers!


Planning Principle #1 – Pause for Reflection

As Einstein says, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Without pausing for reflection before beginning your next phase of planning, you run the risk of continuing along the same patterns that may not be serving you.

Taking a step back to reflect on what you have accomplished over the last year, and what helped you get there, allows you to see themes emerge about your strengths, and also which actions brought in real results.

Perhaps more importantly, this practice highlights the ways in which your strategy may have been lacking. You can then bring this awareness forward as you move forward through the planning process.


Planning Principle #2 – Articulate Your Goals

After this pause for reflection, it’s time to dive into articulating your big goal(s)!

By the way, we recommend doing this step on a quarterly timeframe. Three months is long enough to set goals that will stretch you and translate into significant progress forward. But it’s short enough that you can adjust your plan based on new information or external factors that will inevitably influence your strategy along the way.

Articulating your SMART goals for the quarter (focusing on no more than 3 at a time) starts to move you from that big vision for change perspective into the more tangible results you want to prioritize for the next three months.


Planning Principle #3 – Break Down the Vision

Next, you need to start breaking down those (max) 3 quarterly goals into the key milestones you’ll have to reach along the way in order to achieve them.

This is the biggest gap we see entrepreneurs make as they manage their time and strategic planning!

As humans, we naturally tend to be very good at articulating the big picture vision and setting SMART goals, and we are generally pretty good at tackling our to-do lists when we sit down at our desk each morning.

The missing piece of the planning puzzle is connecting the vision to the everyday to-do activities.

That’s exactly what this core planning principle is all about. Break down your quarterly goals into key milestones and then the small, achievable activities you need to take on a daily basis to achieve those milestones.


Planning Principle #4 – Take Consistent Focused Action

If you’ve take the time to work through planning principles 1 – 3, the rest will be a breeze!

Now is time to hit the road and, day after day, week after week, slowly but surely take consistent focused action implementing the plan you’ve laid out.

When you know exactly what to focus on like this – on a daily and on a weekly basis – you’re able to live every entrepreneur’s dream!

And that is to avoid feeling endlessly busy and trapped by your never-ending to-do list. Instead, you can calmly dedicate your time and energy to the actions you know will bring you the most effective results.


Planning Principle #5 – Evaluate and Continually Re-adjust

The final, and often missed, core planning principle is to evaluate your progress and re-adjust along the way!

This is THE key step in order to make your dream impact inevitable.

As Steve Blank says, “no business plan survives first contact with a customer.” And the same is absolutely true with plans in general hitting the real world!

Even the best laid plans will need to adjusted and tweaked along the way. Being open to adjusting along the way based on results is exactly what’s required from a great planner.

When you measure your progress as you go, you can use that knowledge gathered while taking action and seeing early results. You can use it to make better predictions for what to focus on next, and this is what will lead you to get closer and closer to achieving your impact goals, one step at a time!


“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

— Antoine de Saint Exupery


If you are ready to take your intentional planning to the next level, we invite you to take a look The Changemakers GPS.

This is the planning system we designed for Changemakers to maximize their efforts and make their Dream Impact inevitable!

The Changemakers GPS is an annual planner, designed specifically for impact entrepreneurs, to help you:

  • Get clear on your (actual) Dream Impact goal
  • Efficiently plan your Year, Quarter, Month, Week and Day
  • Feel on tack, reassured that your time and energy are being used effectively
  • Make sure you don’t burnout in the process, with daily gratitude and self-care rituals
  • SEE your progress and celebrate reaching your milestones and goals

You can learn more about the Changemakers GPS Planner and complementary 6-part training here.

We’re excited for you to experience what it’s like to know exactly where you’re going in your entrepreneurial journey, and the positive influence that will have on YOUR impact!


  • Kay McDonald

    Reply Reply July 25, 2017

    Thank you both for this wonderful planning system. You really help me stay on target and inspired by the way you present so clearly. Great Job!

    • caAdmin

      Reply Reply July 26, 2017

      So great to hear you’re enjoying the planner Kay!

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