Starting a Small Business? Here’s Step 2

Starting a Small Business? Here’s Step 2

Congratulations!  You’ve decided to start your own business.  You know just what you want to do.  You can’t wait to get started.  You’ve answered all the questions I posed in my previous blog. (Click here if you haven’t read it).…ness-read-this/

Hold on there, kiddo!  Before you quit your day job, there is a lot of thinking to do.  And…yes, more questions to answer.

“Oh, come on,” I hear you say.  “I answered a bazillion questions last time”


But…Wait, there’s more.

Remember I said if you are going to be successful you have to know where you are going?  I want to expand on that.

There is a simple six step formula for being a success at anything.  Here it is.

  1. Know where you are
  2. Know where you want to go.
  3. Take action
  4. Evaluate the results of that action.
  5. Based on what you found out in step 4, repeat the action, modify the action, or try something different
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4, & 5 until you get what you want.

“Really,” you say.  “Huh, six simple steps.  Who knew it was that easy?”

Yes it is that easy.  But (ah yes, there’s always a but) you have to apply the six steps, with brutal efficiency.  You cannot let anything get in your way.

And…remember Murphy’s First Law, “Nothing is as easy as it looks.”

Let’s look at the six steps.

I’m assuming you have completed Step 1.  You know where you are.

Step 2 is know where you want to go.  This step actually contains two elements: A Business Plan; and an Operations Manual.

Why Do I Need an Operations Manual?

Two good reasons:

  1. Even if there’s only you, it forces you to think about how you are going to handle your customers and/or clients
  2. An operations manual standardizes policies and procedures for your employees.  They will know what to do if you’re not around.

Building an Operations Manual is easy.  Get a three ring notebook.  At the top of each page list a topic.

One topic might be customer relations.

Under customer relations you might list: “Answering Telephone Calls.  The script is: ‘Good (morning)(afternoon)This is Fred, how may I help you today?’”

Now as things occur to you, get out that notebook, creating topic sheets as you go, and adding items to them.

My point is, you don’t have to write the whole operations manual in one sitting.

The same is true for the business plan.  You do need a plan.

What? A Business Plan Too?

Here is the challenge with a business plan.  You sit down and spend a week on it.  You wind up with a 50 page document, complete with graphs, Xcel spreadsheets, and time lines.  Now you think you’re locked into it.  Every action’s evaluated by how it fits into the plan. Then something goes wrong.  Now what?  Do you sit down and rewrite the whole thing?

General George Patton, the famous WWII Tank Commander once said, “The best battle plan in the world isn’t worth a damn after the first shot is fired.”

Here’s this quote from Dwight Eisenhower: “The plan is useless, but planning is essential.”  (Berry, Tim (2008-08-01). The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan (Kindle Locations 214-216). Entrepreneur Press. Kindle Edition.)

Let me put this another way, the plan is not the battle.

You have to stay flexible.  Don’t plan too far ahead.

This is where the six steps come in.

The first page of the business plan is your success statement.  You should have this from the last blog.

This is your goal.  From now on, with everything you do, every action you take, you should be asking yourself, “How does this support my goal?”

This also is Step 2 from the list above.

Now comes Step 3.  Look at your goal.  Ask yourself, “What is the first thing I need to do in order to achieve my goal?”  Write it down. Then ask “What is the next thing?”  Keep asking until you have five or six things on your list.

Now, take action.  Do the first thing on the list.  What happened?  Was it a success?  If the answer is yes, then repeat the task.  If the answer is no, what did you learn?  Can you modify the task, and repeat?  Should you abandon that effort and try something different?

I know this sounds overly simplistic.  But here is the point.  If you just begin, one task will lead to the next.  If you stay focused on the goal, as you complete a task, the next one will appear to you.  If it doesn’t, ask yourself “How can I accomplish …?”  Be still.  The answer will come to you.  It may not be instant.  It may take an hour, a day, a week, or a month.  But…it will come.

Keep going.  No matter what happens.  Stay focused.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will achieve your goal.    

“Oh, come on,” you say. “Nothing is that easy.  Something is bound to go wrong.”

What to do When Things go Wrong!

Yes, indeed.  Something will go wrong.  Murphy’s Third Law says: “If it can go wrong it will.  And, at the worst possible time.”

So what?  Napoleon Hill, in his Laws of Success series of books teaches that in every adversity, there is the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.

Notice I said seed.  That seed, like all seeds, needs nourishing.   Sometimes, the benefit is simply finding within yourself strengths and abilities  you never knew you had.  But, the seed is there.  If you nourish it, you will overcome whatever obstacles are in your path.

Do you know what this means?  You can’t fail. Or, the only way you can fail is by quitting.  Remember, success is never a straight line.  There will be mistakes, dead ends, blind alleys, disasters of all kinds for you to learn from.  These only make you smarter.

Thomas Edison ran over 10,000 trials before he found the right material for the filament in the electric light bulb.

Here’s the hard part.  (You knew there had to be hard part, right?).  The hard part is sticking to steps 1 through 6.  These steps seem simple and they are.  The challenge is in sticking to them, sooner or later we become bored.  Once boredom sets in, we become distracted.  Once distracted, we forget to focus on the goal.

How can you combat this?  The best way I know is to read your goal out loud to yourself at least twice a day.  Why?  Because it will keep the goal upper most in your mind.  When distractions arise, you will ask, “How will doing this move me toward the goal?”  If the answer is, “Not much,” you will drop it.

Follow these simple steps.  And…remember this quote from Winston Churchill.  “Never, Never, Never, Never, give up.”

So…there you have it.  A simple way to build the necessary plans to use as you get ready to launch your new business.

By the way, I think “The Plan as You Go Business Plan” is an absolute must read for anyone starting a new business.  You can buy it here, just by clicking on the link below.

The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan
by Tim BerryTrade Paperback
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