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Ron McKenzie - Architect. Author. Advisor.
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The Law of the Billiard Table
“What you don’t know, you don’t know.” 
This statement goes to the heart of what business planning is all about. A business plan addresses the positioning of your company in the marketplace so you can promote your competitive advantages, while at the same time, maximizing the competitor’s weaknesses. The tactics of marketing, business development, operations and product/service value are developed, goals and objectives are identified, and responsibilities are assigned. Then, proforma financials are finalized to be used as a benchmark as to the plan’s progress.
With that said, there is still one component of planning that needs to be addressed, and that is the unknown. No matter how well you plan, something can always happen that could impact your business. In construction it can be a new competitor that appears out of nowhere, or a project manager that goes out on their own taking business with them, or a major client cuts back on their work. These outside factors are not known, until they are known.
The Law of the Billiard Table, which describes this concept, was first mentioned in Ian Flemings’ novel From Russia, With Love in 1957.

Darko Kerim turned and faced Bond. His voice became insistent. Listen, my friend,” he put a huge hand on Bond's shoulder. “This is a billiard table. An easy, flat, green billiard table. And you have hit your white ball and it is travelling easily and quietly towards the red. The pocket is alongside. Fatally, inevitably, you are going to hit the red and the red is going into that pocket. It is the law of the billiard table, the law of the billiard room. But, outside the orbit of these things, a jet pilot has fainted and his 
Consider the following: The white cue ball sitting down at one end of the table, and the red ball is at the other end partly overhanging the pocket. Any pool player can make the shot, and because of the angle, the cue ball will never drop into the pocket, nullifying the shot. It is The Law of the Billiard Table.

From a Business Planning Viewpoint, the cue ball represents your strategic, business and marketing plan. The act of hitting the cue ball toward the red ball is the implementation of your plan. When the red ball is struck and drops into the pocket, it represents that your plan is successful, meaning all your goals and objectives are met, and you are profitable for the year.

The Law of the Billiard Table states that there is no possible way for you to miss the shot, meaning of course in our analogy, that your business plan will be successful. What I'm saying is, there is always something that you don’t know, for there are other Laws in the Universe. That means you must have back-up plans in place. The law of the Billiard Table suggests that planning is even more critical component of business. Businesses that plan are better prepared to deal with the unknown

You don't want to hear the following in your business: "Didn’t see that one coming!”

​plane is diving straight at that billiard room, or a gas main is about to explode, or lightning is about to strike. And the building collapses on top of you and on top of the billiard table. Then what has happened to that white ball that could not miss the red ball, and to the red ball that could not miss the pocket? The white ball could not miss according to the laws of the billiard table. But the laws of the billiard table are not the only laws, and the laws governing the progress of this train, and of you to your destination, are also not the only laws in this particular game.”
If you would like to find out more about business planning, and the differences between strategic planning, business planning and marketing planning, click on the Banner below. The really good news is you don’t have to do everything at once, as there is a reason and a methodology of developing and implementing a planning mindset within a business. It’s also not expensive. If you have any question, call me or send me an email. I’ll be happy to give you as much help in getting started. The important thing is to start.