If you’re like me, you enjoy the big picture. And by enjoy, I mean bask in its ever-glowing rays of happiness, hope and potential. The final working product, with all of it’s moving parts and success is always more fun to chew on than the grueling step-by-step process it takes to get there.
Conversely, not enough optimism and vision can kill an idea’s momentum. Too much or too little of either can be debilitating. It’s because of this that some planning sessions and, in consequence, some startups, fail.
I’m fortunate enough to have a business partner who’s a “process guy.”
I help bring the future vision, while he leads the plan of attack. We’ve found a good balance between the two. Whether you are working with another individual, a whole team, or just riding solo, it’s important to incorporate the right amount of planning while envisioning a happy medium.
How to Improve the Small Business Planning Process
When the wheels start turning, establish your idea of success, then draw the map that will get you there. Here are three things to keep in mind when planning.
1.Don’t be afraid to visualize the future.
Have an idea of what you want, what you’re working towards, and where you want to be. Rarely, do I hop on my bike without a destination in mind; and I’m hardly ever trying to ride cross country. Give your vision feasible end points.
Think of realistic situations in which you can see success. “I want my website to generate a gazillion users and make more money than they can print,” is probably not a reasonable vision statement. Create a vision of success that fits the potential scale of your company so you can set realistic goals, but visualize, nonetheless.
2. Create your map, road by road.
You’ve got your destination for your metaphorical ‘bike ride’. It’s time to visit Google Maps and get step-by-step directions on how to get there. You need to set tasks, goals, and milestones along the way to keep you moving in the right direction.
Will any idea have just one set path? Probably not. In fact, it’s smart to plan through a couple of ‘what if’ situations. Set some steps and goals for these situations. When we plan at IndieBundl.es, we map out four or five different paths to get to our vision, along with the steps we foresee taking to succeed.
3. Be ready to visualize and plan, again.
If someone says, “everything is going according to plan,” they are most likely fabricating the truth. Prepare for road blocks, obstacles, metaphoric flat tires and *gasp* a chain breaking! These things will happen, so be on your toes.
Always be prepared to create new steps, set new goals, and possibly change your vision. Pivots are fueled by process and goal changes – if you aren’t ready, you’ll risk missing your opportunity for success.
The Free Management Library has a slew of resources we refer to on a daily basis. Check out their “All About Strategic Planning” guide to get a push in the right direction.
Connect with Michael Hoy on Twitter.
Michael Hoy is the founder of IndieBundl.es, a website that creatively highlights unsigned musicians through cross-promotion. Now on his second startup, Hoy taking his love for innovation and creation, partnering it with one of his deepest passions – music. To help with the beta test, visit www.indiebundl.es.
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