Why we all need plans…

“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”


All good explorers will have spent many months, if not years, preparing for an expedition.

They’ll have created and honed a clear plan to take them every step of the way. And, a fair few back up plans in anticipation for the unexpected. It’s this level of detail in the preparation that gives them the confidence to take their first step.

It’s no coincidence that the traits of an explorer and an entrepreneur are very similar. Whilst I wouldn’t say I’m an intrepid explorer, the focus on preparation is actually no different to starting your own business.

My own training and preparation for the Probitas adventure started on my first day at Eagle Star, nearly 40 years ago. I didn’t realise at the time, but the career path that lay ahead of me would give me the experience, knowledge and desire to start my own syndicate.

Until you’ve been through the process to set up a Lloyd’s syndicate, it’s hard to appreciate the work and determination needed to get to the point of trading. It’s no coincidence that there are so few new Lloyd’s syndicates joining the market.

But, we were as well prepared as we could be, having been deep in planning mode for many months. Acutely aware that we were clearly defining our vision and the route we wanted to take over the coming weeks, months and years, we spent a substantial amount of time outlining every step we’d need to take to get there.

The plans didn’t just stop on the day we were signed off by Lloyd’s, or the day we started trading. All of those months we spent planning, were to take us to 2020 and beyond, with key milestones along the way. We had set our sights on the top of the mountain and set out each stage of the journey to ensure we would reach the top.

Of course, you don’t always know what lies up ahead…the path doesn’t always run smooth.

You can prepare for most eventualities, but when you actually encounter a bump in the road, it’s important to calmly take stock and not loose sight of the end goal. A clear plan and vision enable us to take diversions in our stride, with minor alterations.

Our biggest diversion came late last year, when Istmo Re went into administration. Something that we hadn’t anticipated but we knew the facts and what action was needed to rectify our own position. Importantly, we had the confidence that it wouldn’t halt our journey.

Plans were closely reviewed and adapted, we kept focused on maintaining a steady ship whilst finding a suitable investor to take their place. Clarity in the Probitas concept meant that we had distinct ideas of the type of partner we wanted – one that complements our vision. Because, that’s the other reality of building a business, you need to have the right people on board.

Undertaking an expedition is not something you do alone – there’s always a great team behind you. With this in mind, we have always had the intention of building the team with the right investors as well as the right staff. Everyone needs to be invested in the journey we are all taking together.

As we celebrate our second anniversary, it remains business as usual for us, with no intentions of deviating from our plans. Instead, with determination, focus and a little adaptation, we’re on course to continue to the next stage.

Eisenhower was accurate in his comment that ‘planning is indispensable’; however, I personally believe that it is actually only obstinate plans which are useless!