In our work with entrepreneurs we have had the pleasure of experiencing the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. We have seen great thinkers fall short, innovative visionaries lose focus, and creative geniuses flounder. We have also witnessed effective planning and execution resulting in profitable, fulfilled business owners.
Follow these tips to ensure your business reaches its full potential. By taking a few extra steps in the planning phase, you will save yourself loads of time and effort down the road, allowing you to live a more balanced lifestyle.
1. Have a Plan: Don’t Hug a Tree in Your Party Dress.
More often than any of us would like to admit, we charge forward without having a clear thought out plan. We may have a general idea, but the destination is still unknown. It’s kind of like heading out on a road trip to California, without identifying a city or landmark. You could end up at the Hollywood strip in LA or under a giant redwood at Sequoia National Park. Either way, you’d be in California, but you might not be dressed for the occasion.
This seems incredibly obvious, but you might be amazed how many businesses owners struggle to answer when asked about their goals and how they plan to achieve them. Often times the plan is in their head which may serve them, but what about those they work with? Your job sure is easier when your managers, employees, strategic partners, etc… understand where the company is headed and how it will get there. Simply having a plan is one of the biggest indicators for success.
2. Start With the End in Mind
When creating your plan start with where you will end up. Just as you enter the destination into your GPS so it can calculate directions, you must have a clear vision for your business before you can create your action plan.
Be clear on not just what your future business looks like, but also how your future self spends their days. What role will you ultimately play in your business? Who will you be working with? What will you be doing when you’re not working?
3. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew – Eat That Elephant One Bite at a Time
Brainstorm the things you most want to accomplish over the next several months. You can do this on your own or with your leadership team. We recommend using a whiteboard or sticky notes so your ideas can be spread out and visible. Then chose only 2 (maybe 3) of those things to focus on. We know you will have many more than 2, but keeping your focus limited is vital to optimize forward progress.
What do you do with all the other brilliant initiatives you came up with? Don’t worry they’re not lost. They will simply find a home in your “GREAT IDEAS” file. This can be a virtual file on your hard drive, on your Google drive, in drop box, or it can be in a notebook or a cardboard box. Just have one! As Renee always says, “You will always have more great ideas than you have time for.”
4. Brainstorming is an Art and the Artists are Successful
There is a method to effective brainstorming just as there are techniques for painting with watercolors. The more you practice the better you become.
The first rule of brainstorming is brought to us by our first grade teachers.
There are no dumb ideas.
With an entrepreneurial mind, you tend to think with lightning speed, quickly weighing all the pros and cons of each idea, visualizing them playing out, and identifying any reason they may fail. We ask you to silence this “gift” for a while, or at least keep it muzzled during this process. You see, every idea, no matter how rational or feasible leads to another. If you learn to let them flow freely you will be led almost effortlessly down the path of brilliance.
You will often hear these phrases at The Bottom Line during brainstorming sessions; “I know this doesn’t make any sense, but…,” “That makes me think of…,” and “hmmm…interesting…there could be something there.” However, you will not hear things like, “that isn’t possible,” That won’t work,” or “I don’t like that.” Everything goes on the board! We are always amazed at what comes out of these sessions. It’s a beautiful process!
So, with your top 2 objectives in mind, you will capture every idea. Pick your favorites and begin thinking about an action plan. Again, those that didn’t make the top hits list take up (temporary) residence in the Great Ideas file.
5. Every Success Requires Action
Ask yourself what steps do you need to take to accomplish your top 2 objectives? We recommend you write down each action item on sticky notes, and then place them in chronological order. This is a simple yet highly effective first step to creating an action plan that will keep you on track and deliver results.
There is a direct correlation between those who accomplish what they set out to achieve and the ability to clearly identify the steps it will take to get there.
You will also need to consider
- What resources will you need?
- Who will help you?
- How much time is required?
- How much will it cost
6. Etch it in Stone
This is where you get committed. Yes, it’s going to take some commitment. Ready?