Friday, September 10, 2010

Path to Success

One of the leading causes of business failure, or any kind of undertaking for that matter, is lack of proper planning. Yet too often I run into people who spend more time planning their weekend outing then their business, all the while wondering why they aren't achieving the success they desire.

In my own life, I have experienced both success and failure. Looking back, whenever I have been successful, in each instance, I have had a clear and focused plan. When I didn't take the time to plan, it was disastrous. Therefore I am more convinced then ever in the value of planning, and in business, strategic business planning.

Having said this, I think most people make planning way too complicated then it has to be. For great many businesses, especially for the smaller ones, setting aside say 10 or so hours, answering some key questions alone will provide a meaningful road map for success. Some of these key questions include:

DESTINATION: What does your desired destination (success) look like? How will you, and those on your team, know when that destination has been reached?

PURPOSE: Why do you want to get there? What will it give you? And what will happen if you don't get there? As in any journey, if your purpose is unclear, and/or desire weak, you are likely to turn back when you hit roadblocks. Therefore, before starting your journey, be clear why you're wanting to go there and ensure it's something you really want.

HOW: What "road" will you take to reach your desired destination? What do you need to get done, day by day, week by week, month by month? For businesses, break down what needs to get done in the three key areas: administration, operations, and sales & marketing. Who will do what by when and how?

SIGNPOSTS: How will you know you're on track, individually and collectively? What measures will serve as "mile markers" and "sign posts"?

OBSTACLES: As in any journey, it's not always smooth sailing. Sometimes you hit road blocks, you get a flat tire. When that happens, will you know what to do?

OPPORTUNITIES: Sometimes along the way, you may run into pleasant surprises that will help you get to your destination quicker, such as you discover a short cut. How will you recognize these opportunities when you see them?

If you don't have a plan in place, I urge you to take some time, and prepare one. It's not rocket science. Answering some key basic questions as presented above alone will get you well on your way.

But don't be fooled by the simplicity of the questions. While the questions are easy, to arrive at meaningful answers requires deep reflection and thought. As you do that, you'll be amazed by the benefits you'll experience with the associated and focus that emerges in the process. And if you have multiple partners in the business, this then is even more important. Without it, it'll be like driving a car without proper tire alignment, with each tire moving in a different direction.

It really is so that "Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance".

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