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SMEChat: Winners always start with the end in sight

One entrepreneur told me last year how he almost closed his retail business as he had no funds to restock. Mere survival was a feat worth bragging about; many of his peers went under after failing to recapitalise or adapt  to the changed economic environment.

The economic situation is unlikely to turn around any time soon; the main drivers of growth — consumer demand and new investment — remain subdued. The winners in this game will be those entrepreneurs who are nimble, innovative and hungry for success. Ordinary players will be losers, remaining stagnant before fading away. This is not the time to be ordinary;  an extraordinary contest requires extraordinary contestants.

Lovers of football are having a feast as the European Champions League reaches it’s pinnacle. As the tournament progressed  in the past few months, ordinary teams were falling by the wayside.  Those that reached the semi-finals last week had one thing in common: they wanted  to win the trophy, and they could do anything and everything to get it.  There was only one destination in the minds of both the coaches and the players: winning the big prize!

Business is no different to sport. There are ordinary teams and extraordinary teams; there are also ordinary business owners and  extraordinary entrepreneurs. They are not the same. Entrepreneurs are different from ordinary small business people in that they don’t just run a business, they create something of lasting value.  They begin each enterprise  knowing exactly what they want to achieve, and they go all the way to the final and get the prize.

What is your prize?
Until you know what exactly you want to achieve through your business, you won’t achieve much. Success means different  things to different people. One might want to retire as a millionaire, another might just want the satisfaction of running his own business while earning a comfortable living. Someone else might be interested in making a mark in the world, or making a difference in society. Whatever goal is important  to you, it must be clearly visible in your mind, the way a sportsperson envisions himself holding the trophy.

A powerful enough vision, and a clear enough mission, will summon latent energies and skills that every human being has inside them. The human mind will  think extraordinarily, and the body will work exceptionally, if there is a worthy enough prize ahead. Many of the successful entrepreneurs I have spoken with over the years talk of big desires they had when they started their businesses. They always knew from the beginning that they wanted to achieve extraordinary things. And they also spoke of long days and sleepless nights, hard work and stress,  before their dreams began to take shape. Although some have not yet reached the “prize”,  they know they are on the right path and one day they will get there.

When you know where you want to go, the next step is to map a plan of how to get there. Very few people have made significant achievements without a plan. Ancient writers knew of the importance of strategic planning. A clever entrepreneur will first plan before embarking on an endeavour as important as a business which will consume a lot of his time, resources and hard work, and make a big change in his life and that of his family.

Most of the failures of new businesses, of which 80% fail within10 years, are a result of not planning. Because the planning process requires you to think of the possible challenges, threats and opportunities lying ahead, you will be better prepared to handle them when you have a plan. Like the Chinese said, you would have already won the trophy before you had even kicked a ball.

To help entrepreneurs with the planning process in this mean and sluggish economy, I have developed a resource book entitled Developing a Three Step Strategic Plan to Grow Your Business. The e-book will be available in the coming week and I will send copies to all who are on my mailing list. To get a copy just send me an email. The forthcoming seminar will also feature a presentation on strategic planning, especially for SMEs who want to make a difference in, and through, their businesses.


About the Author

Phillip Chichoni is  business planning consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. His email address is chichonip@gmail.com

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