The Top Ten Questions For Any Plan

By Jon Ward, a member of Amilya's Lucky Napkin experts. For more information, see the end of this article!

Whether you are planning a business, a wedding or an invasion — you need a strategy. But how do you go about crafting a plan that’s more than a daydream?

The secret to successful planning is to stretch your thinking skills. Good strategists have a gift f


or seeing the BIG picture. Great strategists have something more — they can zoom back and forth between the big picture and the gritty details.

The more fluid your thinking — the more “zoom” it has — the better your planning will be. One fail-safe technique for expanding your vision is to ask yourself strong questions. As a consultant to entrepreneurs, I’ve been in situations where just hitting on the right question has changed everything.

Another key is to write your plan down. That may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed by how many business people are running around without any kind of written strategy. They are probably daunted by the idea of filling 50 pages with text and tables. Quite right, too! Take your inspiration from Lucky Napkin, the name of Amilya Antonetti’s new company. Practice the art of brevity and write your plan in a few short bullet points.

So now take a look at The Top Ten Questions For Any Plan. Here’s a chance to challenge yourself with a new approach to planning. Answer these ten tough questions as honestly as you can. Then write down your strategy on a single piece of paper. With that in hand, you’re already ahead of most entrepreneurs, wedding planners and governments!

#1 - What’s My Outcome?

Your outcome should be simple, clear and measurable. What’s more it should have a date pinned to it — six months from now, three years from now, before I’m 80... You need to be able to revisit your outcome and say “Yes we did,” or “No we didn’t.”

#2 - What’s My Reason?

A reason is different from a goal. You can have a goal to make a million dollars next year but without a reason to attain it, you will never get there. Only a powerful, personal motivation will carry you through the inevitable frustrations and setbacks you will face. Your reason is the fuel that drives your strategy and turns ideas into results.

#3 - Where Am I Now?

Next time you’re lost in a shopping mall, notice what you look for first on the map — “You Are Here.” Whatever your goal, you must begin with the all important (and often missed) reality check. Take a cold, hard look at every aspect of your present situation. Then measure the distance between where you are now and where you want to go.

#4 - What Is The Context?

No strategy is executed in a vacuum. There’s an environment that will hugely impact how well you succeed. If you’re in business, that will include the economy, competitors, industry trends, new technologies… you get the picture. Sum up the context as simply as you can.

#5 - What Are My Resources?

If it’s big enough to demand a strategy, it’s probably too big to do alone. So first take a look at your team. Who do you have, and who is missing? Then look at money, materials, space, etc. Remember to include intangibles like expertise as well as physical stuff. You may be surprised by how many resources you have, or by how much you still need.

Click ahead for 6-10!

#6 - What Are My Obstacles?

Every path worth taking presents hurdles. Some will be unpredictable, but there are many you can anticipate now. Write them down. Look at your obstacles long and hard, not to discourage yourself but to stimulate your creativity. Remember, the definition of a problem is something with a solution.

#7 - What Am I Refusing To See?

Throw yourself this curve ball and see what happens. Just assume that there is something you don’t want to look at. Something fuzzy in the corner of your picture that you keep skirting around. Turn your attention there and spend long enough to let it come clear. Habitually asking this question will give you unusual power.

#8 - What Are My Steps?

Now you are ready to map out the path to your stated goal. Notice that this is what most “strategists” do first — big mistake. Answering all the preceding questions will give you unusual confidence as you plan your steps. For best results, be sure to set clearly defined milestones with dates.

#9 - What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Play devil’s advocate — or better, get someone else to. Whatever your strategy so far, tear it to pieces, knock holes in it, shoot it down. You can never be as tough on your plans as real life will be. Assume Murphy’s Law and create a Plan B, C and D. To bomb-proof your strategy, critique it until only the best is left.

#10 - What’s The Big Idea?

Every great strategy, like every great product, turns around one powerful concept. Study military history or the business world, you’ll find the same thing: winners always know how to boil things down to a Big Idea. Apply that skill to your planning, and succeed!

About The Author:

Jon Ward

Jon Ward is a LUCKY NAPKIN EXPERT - You can meet him at Amilya's Mind to Market weekends visit

He’s a faculty member of Trump University and co-creator of many Trump educational products, including Branding for Profit, the Marketing Action Program and the Wealth Builder’s Action Plan. He has provided consulting to Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and to John Assaraf of The Secret. He has been a speaker for Harv Eker, author of The Millionaire Mind and for Amilya Antonetti’s Lucky Napkin.

In addition, Jon helps entrepreneurs use the Internet to grow their business, through the online training program Blaze Your Name and with a new low-cost subscription service, Click for Clients.

Jon is also the creator of a new process for optimizing the mind, called Zoom Thinking. His book of that title will be published in 2009.