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Think Things Through

03/09/2014

Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says to begin with the end in mind. This is great advice whether you are dealing with real-life issues or starting a business. When you’re starting a diet, you start with your big goal of losing XX number of pounds and then decide to try and lose 2 pounds a week. When you’re meeting a person you met on an internet dating site, you’re probably wondering if he’s the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life married to. When starting a business, you need to think about your exit strategy.

An exit strategy can help you decide how you are going to run your business. Just like with a long, tiring hike, knowing where you’re going determines which path you take to get there. Do you want t sell your business for a profit in five years? You’ll make decisions to grow your business quickly. Do you want this business to support you and your family for the rest of your life? You’ll probably choose a slower path with more sustainable growth. Are you entering an industry that will deal with a high product volume now and be obsolete in three years? Maybe you shouldn’t even start that one.

If you know what you want to do, then you can plan for it. The florist that my fiancé works for did not have an end goal.  She started two other businesses at the same time, and between not having something to work toward and not enough hours in the day for her to do everything she needs to. As a result, she cannot grow her customer base anymore, and she has not yet reached an annual break-even point. Thus, she’s operating at a loss most months.

However, I have recently been asked to help a friend with a business plan for her new up-and-coming blog/website combo. I’ll give you more details about it when it is up an running, but so far they have a strong outline, definite goals, and they are thinking about nitty-gritty details. With a little fleshing out, they will have their blog and website running and sustainable. They will have thought things through, thus eliminating the risks. It is very exciting to be helping them with this project!

I’ll bet you’re asking what any of this has to do with you, because you don’t own your own business and you may have no interest in losing weight. But what about projects at work? Usually your boss tells you the result they want: go get more clients; solve this dispute between departments;  make this business segment profitable; make the customer’s Caramel Macchiato. You just started with the end in mind! Then you do the research you need to be knowledgeable about your problem, figure out from that information the best course of action, and then do it. It sounds simple and in some situations it may not be so easy, but it is an effective way to break things down to manageable bite-sized pieces.

So, what do you think? Does this make sense, or am I just standing on my soap box ranting?

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From → Business, Serious

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