When self-help guru Alan Lakein said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” he perhaps failed to foresee the speed at which business was going to change in the digital age. Could planning now be the cause of your biggest failures?

It’s a hot topic and certainly one that allows for much debate (and occasionally argument) at my regular email, social media and content marketing workshops. I consider myself a doer, not a planner. This upsets some people, particularly the planners among my delegates.

I would never suggest that careful planning is not a vital component of your business strategy. Your planning process just needs to move into the digital age if it is to succeed.

Because industry and commerce now moves at the speed of the Internet, and competitors can come out of nowhere to completely disrupt your business, your plans should be kept short and executed quickly.

I’m a great believer that plans should be formed quickly, executed at speed (in a limited environment, often referred to as beta testing), before being optimized (or re-evaluated) and then (if successful) rolled out to a wider audience. The desire to improve your products or services via this method should be an ongoing process. No matter how good your product or service is on its day of launch, complacency and lack of agility in your development process will ultimately kill it.

Remember: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the ones that are most adaptable to change. The same is true in business.

Technology – The Freedom to Test

Technology has enabled businesses to break free from the rigid constraints that forced us to plan months or even years ahead, investing time, effort and money into projects with no guaranteed return.

Thanks to the Internet, we have access to resources that were unavailable to the previous generation of entrepreneurs, including:

  • A flexible, skilled, global workforce
  • On-demand or short-run manufacturing
  • A low-cost platform to launch, test and optimize
  • Direct access to our customers/clients via social media
  • The ability to scale at speed
  • All-you-can-eat data

Planning Now Means Selling

Ideas no longer need time to ferment on the drawing board. Immediate beta testing enables you to work with your clients to develop the new products or services they need today. This means actively selling your ideas (and potentially generating revenue from them) virtually from the initial stages of inception.

Stop Talking, Stop Thinking, Just Do It

I meet people almost every single day who tell me they are thinking about setting up a new business or launching a new project. They attend workshops, sip cocktails at networking events, and consume books, magazine articles and blog posts by the score before sharing their (crowd-generated) ideas via social media. Very few of them take their plans beyond the thoughts in their heads or the endless notes on their laptops.

Focus on 2016

If you have an idea you want to take to market in 2016, now is the time to make it happen. Stop planning and start doing.

How are you going to make 2016 count? Share your comments below:

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.