You’ve heard it a thousand times….if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While cliché, it’s proven and still many businesses and even more individuals fail to plan. Planning is not only about defining a destination but planning in business equals results. Results equal cash. Cash equals value. All of which lead to sustainability and wealth for individuals and businesses. Having a direction, a destination aligns people, provides success benchmarks, and provides a sense of accomplishment when targets and goals are achieved. It provides structure and definition and transforms a “happening” into a managed event.

Oak Street Funding, founded in 2003, has been providing capital by making loans to the insurance industry for over a decade. This process has enabled us to evaluate thousands of businesses from the inside out. We are able to see and compare the results of these firms and one thing clearly stands out — the act of planning or the lack thereof, and the resulting outcomes on business success are material. What is shocking to me is the number of firms without solid, documented plans for the future.

Whether it’s a well thought out holistic business plan, a marketing plan, a production plan, or a succession plan, our industry (particularly the small to mid-size firms) is falling short and value is being vaporized as a result. The good news is that this is changing. Firms like FP Transitions, MarshBerry and others are committed to providing planning support and perspective to the industry through their consultative services. Planning is not an inherent process. It’s learned. It doesn’t happen on its own. Someone with credibility needs to own it and drive the process from within your organization. It forces the leaders in an organization to think vs. transacting themselves to death. It’s practiced, and needs to be modified over time. Planning is not a one-time event, it is a dynamic process that needs to be repeated over and over again as conditions change, as people change, and as technology advances.

When things are not going well or according to plan remember it’s okay to turn around! Most people don’t recognize that turning around is not a failure but a success. You’ve done something. You’ve recognized that there is a need for change and you’ve taken action to effectuate that change.

Putting business plans into action will mobilize and align your organization, and most importantly, it will pay off financially in multiples.

D. Scott Clarke is Chief Operating Officer of Oak Street Funding. As COO, Scott oversees and ensures alignment for key functional areas supporting Oak Street Funding’s strategies to grow and diversify, as well as integration with First Financial Bank and strategic projects.