Business Leaders — Plan, Equip, Train and Lead

Doug Thorpe
3 min readNov 2, 2022

There is a mantra used by the U.S. military to describe the essential framework for building an effective military presence. It’s a simple formula: Plan, Equip, Train and Lead.

All four parts must work in harmony. Take one or two away, and you have an effort that will not perform at its potential. One can argue we are seeing that played out in Ukraine. Russian forces are either poorly equipped or not well trained. In some cases, the leadership has poorly executed the plan. The net effect is a supposed world power than has been unable to finish what it so unwisely started [yes, I am injecting an opinion there].

Conversely, the Ukrainian forces have proven their small but well-trained and nobly-led ability to defend themselves. As better equipment arrives and training comes too, the resistance has been strengthened up to and including the ability to launch counter-offensives.

Running a Successful Business

Running a successful business can apply these same four principles. Yet too often, business founders fail to apply all four elements.

Let’s explore the ways these principles get applied (or not).


On the one hand, many business leaders I know do something about planning. But in smaller businesses, planning is limited to looking at the cash in the bank and making decisions based solely on that. There is no clarity on long-term direction, sales growth, profitability, or strategy.

It can start with the lack of a vision. I talk a lot about creating a vision.

Stephen R Covey calls it “begin with the end in mind.” Where do you really want to go? What do you want to be about?

In my work with small business owners, they actually have trouble talking about these vital aspects of what they are doing. A clear vision is a foundation for making a good plan.


Here too, I see teams trying to operate with limited resources. In my days as a young apprentice in a master’s woodshop, I learned some key principles about the use of tools and materials. Trying to use the wrong tool in a situation will damage the tool, the material, or you.



Doug Thorpe

Business Advisor and Executive Coach for Entrepreneurs & Large Corp Executives | Maximize People, Process & Profits