Ambition is the American Way. It drives us to do and create great things in the face of overwhelming obstacles and competition. You know the names: Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford, Buffet, Gates and Jobs. Although ambition often has a negative connotation and does have a dark side, when harnessed and channeled, it drives us to do amazing things. But only when we act. In the world of startups and Shark Tank it seems like it everyone is looking for that one good idea to turn their dreams into an early retirement. However, have you ever wondered why, if it was so easy, more people haven’t made it? I talk to a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners every week, and I can tell within the first 5 minutes who are the dreamers and who are the doers. The dreamers can inspire you with their passion, talk to you for days about what their business will look like in the future, and have an unending supply of energy. What is missing? The plan to connect their current state to their desired future state. This is where the doers shine. They tend to have the same passion but a more realistic view of future state and a dialed in plan for how they will get there.
If you are a dreamer, don’t fret. You too can be disciplined and create a plan for your dream. In fact, once you have completed it, you will have more confidence and passion for success than ever before! But you have to get started. There are many business planning formats out there but keeping it simple to start is a good idea. Once you have the basic framework, you can build your plan with more detail and fill in any gaps that you might have. One format that I have seen used is to break your plan into these 5 sections.
Vision: Describe your future. Be very specific here. This is your chance to dream and make your future as real as possible by describing what it feels like, looks like etc.
Goals: These are measurements along the way to make sure you are headed in the right direction. Set goals for 5 years, 3 years, 1 year and 90 days.
Strategy: What will you have to do to reach your goals? Your goals shouldn’t be optional so in order to ensure you hit them you need a strategy. Examples: find this type of business partner, strategic alliance, customer base, improve certain skills, find a sales person etc.
Plan: This is basically a spreadsheet. Where is your revenue going to come from? How much of “X” producing “Y” (i.e. new accounts, new markets, new products etc) will you need to execute your strategy?
Behavior: What are the CRITICAL behaviors that you MUST do every day/week/month to execute your strategy?
You don’t have to use this format but whatever format you use, take your time, put thought into creating this plan. Like anything else you only get out what you put in. Planning by no means guarantees success, but without it, you are like a rudderless ship being influenced by whatever wind blows. Good luck, keep dreaming and start doing!