Do you remember the planning of a road trip? The excitement of the road trip and what was at the end of the road trip? I remember as a child travelling from Perth, Western Australia, across the Nullabor, through South Australia, Victoria, NSW and finally to Queensland, before heading back again across back to WA. The places we stopped, the people we met and the experience were priceless. Over 40 years later and I have vivid memories of seeing snow for the first time, climbing the "Big Banana" and the "Big Pineapple" eating McDonalds for the first time and seeing "The Cross". As a child my brother and I were along for the ride, my parents of course had set the trip up, planned the stops and anticipated any emergency. Taking a young family across Australia in a camper van, takes some planning. Back in those days there was no GPS but there was a map at hand and a keen eye on the destination.
We as business owners need to have our eye on the destination and set ourselves up with a business GPS. The fun and the journey of being a business owner is all in the people we meet, the experiences we gather and the opportunities that are bestowed upon us. Sometimes, it can be easy to divert for a bright shiny object, follow another person's vision, get lost in overwhelm and all other matters of misdirection. Having a good business GPS, helps us to stay on track and not divert to a dead end road or a cul-de-sac, it helps us to maintain a clear vision of what we ant our future business to look like at the destination.
A business plan can act as a GPS and also using some clear guiding questions around your business to formulate what your destination looks like at the end.
Why do I want this business?
When do I want this business to be at it's peak
What do I want it to look like in XX years?
How will I develop this business?
Who is my target market?
Where will I promote my business?
Guiding and open ended questions are a great way to plan your journey so you know exactly what to put in your business GPS.
52 Days Until New Year
Yes, just 52 days until the new year. 2010 has flown by without even seeing it rush before my eyes. Always, about this time of year I take some time to access my business, what's worked well, what needs improvement and what can be culled or re-worked. Starting in November means I have some time to put together a contingency plan for the following year. In January, I can hit the ground running as I already know where I am planning to run to, I have set my path. I am clear in what direction and where I am heading.
Tips to re-access:
Taking an hour out of your week to sit down and do an assessment using these seven questions can save you a whole lot of time and frustration as you land in 2011.
Have you missed an opportunity? Recently I did and big time to! I was busy preparing for a client meeting when the phone rang. I was on a tight schedule and pushing to get myself out the door so as not to be late. Just as I was about to leave the phone rang and I quickly picked it up to find a journalist on the other end of the phone wanting me to comment on a pertinent topic of the day. I was so pushed for time my reply simply was “I am sorry, I don’t feel comfortable commenting on this subject at this point in time”. End of conversation!
Uuugh! I still play this conversation out in my mind. This was a perfect opportunity for me to gain more exposure for my business, build credibility and build a relationship with the journalist.
What’s done is done, I can’t change what happened. From this there has been a truly big learning for me – keep your eye out for opportunity and have a plan for when it rises, you never know when it will happen.
Now I have a plan in place, I have created a plan of action should this situation arise again. I thought through what I could have done better, what I could have said and how I could have filled both obligations on the day.
I know this sounds really basic stuff, however, you would be surprised at how many times we can let opportunities slip through our fingers because we don’t have a plan, we don’t think things through logically and we don’t act! Having a strategic plan in place and most importantly putting some action to the plan can help to build on those opportunities.
For me now, I visualize the phone ringing and the journalist is on the other end giving me a second chance to prove my value.
Have you let an opportunity pass you by because you weren’t prepared for action?
For months now I have been very excited about the 2 week holiday my hubby and I were going to take together. For weeks there was a mass of preparation to go on our campervan holiday through the NSW south coast. Preparations included having the campervan mechanically sound, clothing for all seasons, food, and where we were going to visit. I am a planner so the months leading up were rather exciting in itself as I do love to plan. In fact I know I am on a roll when I start creating lists and getting underway.
I had left nothing to chance and had lists galore, maps galore and plans galore. The holiday started with a fabulous trip down to Lakes Entrance followed by a leisurely drive to Merimbula. The holiday was going to plan and I was in my element. As the first few days unfolded we found the campervan was a little restrictive. We had always only gone on short weekend trips of no more than 3-4 days. We found packing up the campervan to go out on a day trip a little cumbersome so we ended up spending more time walking and cycling, not actually venturing too far out of town.
Over the course of the first week we decided that on our return to Melbourne we would look at upgrading the campervan to a small caravan or similar. By the time we reached Bateman’s Bay we had convinced ourselves that this was the best option. A few technical and physical hitches (my husband’s aching back) found us preferring to spend time staying in caravan park unit accommodation over staying in the somewhat cramped campervan.
My plan had been to be the intrepid campervanner enjoying happy hour under the awning, sipping wine and chatting with other caravanners. This ended up not being the case as you were more removed from the action as you are in a unit. By the time we were heading home we had traded the campervan in on our own little caravan and are off next week to complete the transaction. Not what I planned? Far from it! I have to say you, can get so caught up in your plans that sometimes you miss the things right there in front of you that present themselves to you.
It is the same in business; you can be so caught up in the planning if you’re not careful you may miss opportunities that present themselves out of nowhere. It is always ideal to have a plan, a road map of where you want your business to be heading, don’t be scared to divert off the route and pursue other opportunities, you never know where it may lead you.