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2017 is in your own hands

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.” — Thomas Edison

Once upon a time, a long time ago in a land far, far away, there lived an old man in a house on top of a hill. He had dedicated his entire life to study and meditation. He was known far and wide for his intelligence, sensitivity and wisdom.

sme’s chat with phillip chichoni

Politicians, businesspeople and dignitaries came to visit him and ask him questions. His answers were always correct. He seemed to have a special faculty that enabled him to cut to the essence of any problem or issue. When his answers and solutions were implemented, the result was always excellent. His fame soon spread throughout the land.

In the village below the hill was a group of boys who played together. Sometimes they climbed the hill to visit the old man and ask him questions, for which he always seemed to have the correct answer. Over time, it became a little game, with the boys continually trying to think of a question that the old man could not answer. But they were never successful.

One day, the ringleader of the group, a boy named Aram, called the others around him and said, “I have finally found a way to stump the old man. Here in my hand, I have a bird. We will go and ask the old man if the bird is alive or dead. If he says that it is dead, I will release it and it will fly away. If he says that it is alive, I will crush it, and the bird will be dead. Either way, he will at last have been proven wrong.”

Excited about the prospect of finally catching the old man with a wrong answer, they hurried up the hill. The old man watched them coming and noticed the eager looks on their faces. Then Aram stepped forward and asked, “Old man, I have a bird here in my hands. Is it alive or is it dead?”

The old man looked at their mischievous, expectant faces and then quietly said, “Aram, it is in your hands.”

Now we have heard so many predictions about the year 2017. The most pessimistic are calling it a year of gloom and catastrophe, worse than 2016, while the optimistic are calling it a year of bumper harvests, economic turn-around and multiplication of blessings.

Well, I say the future is in your hands. In my last article, I wrote about the Law of Probabilities, which states that, “For every event, there is a probability of that event occurring under certain circumstances.” I also mentioned that you can take action to make the odds be in your favour.

As the year begins, shrewd entrepreneurs are busy on one activity.

That one big single factor separates average entrepreneurs from highly successful entrepreneurs.
Highly successful entrepreneurs avoid all the problems and challenges that average entrepreneurs have. These include:

* Struggling to get more customers.
* Failing to outperform competitors.
* Struggling to increase sales and profit.
* Finding it very difficult to get employees to be more productive.
* Failing to grow as fast or as much as you would like.
* Strained with a lack of cash flow.
* Failing to pay debtors and suppliers on time.

Well, highly successful entrepreneurs avoid ALL these challenges and associated worries using one tool: a killer strategic plan.

That is their secret; having a clear strategic plan for running and growing their businesses.

What is a strategic plan?

To answer this question, I will explain to you the difference between a strategic plan and a business plan. This is important because many people know me from my previous articles as the business plans guy. Further also from my book Business Planned Simplified, I have helped numerous business owners get finance by developing business plans for them for submission to banks and other funders. However, that is different from strategic planning.

A business plan is needed when you are looking to do the following:

* Start a new company
* Organise your ideas and thoughts
* Judge the viability of your business idea
* Identify your general business strategy
* Understand potential profitability of a project or new business
* Present to a bank or investor for financing

However, you will need to develop a strategic plan in order to do any of the following:

* Survive a turbulent and fast changing environment
* Grow an existing business
* Identify the best opportunities for growth
* Determine and prioritise your financial and HR needs
* Effectively communicate your plan to your team
* Provide a detailed and focused game plan

As you can imagine, strategic plans are reserved for entrepreneurs who are serious about growing their companies.

In my next article, I will discuss how you can develop for your organisation a strategic plan that will work to shape the future you desire. Until then, keep on accelerating your growth.

Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. His new book Business Survival Amidst Turbulence is now available. You may contact him by email, chichonip@gmail.com. You can also visit his blog http://chichonip.wordpress.com

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