The Entrepreneurial Adventure: Week 2 Strategic Planning

Week 1 was a blur of new experiences, new stressors, ambiguity and much unknown. Week 2 in contrast was relatively easy. Week 2 I had the opportunity to travel back east and conduct a technical training as part of my major contract. A 32 hour training that with travel consumed my week. The training was a success despite the fact that the trainees were from an industry completely foreign to me. I had no relevant examples I could draw on since I had never worked in their field. But all in all the training was a success and the students left more informed and capable than they arrived. The client was happy and it was a good week.

Okay but there was this one little thing bugging the daylights out of me all week. That little thing is the subject of today’s post.

Planning, strategy, goals…

You could say that I am not the most organized person in the world and you would be correct. My point of view is to take care of the big rocks and let the little stuff take care of itself. So what happens when I don’t take care of the big rocks?

Chaos. I get stressed and dig into the task closest to me. Then the next task, the next one etc.

This is not the best place to be certainly. In some ways it is a decent coping mechanism since at least something gets done. I don’t shut down after all. I just don’t get the most important things done. A perfect example I spent two and a half hours driving around Memphis one evening looking for a Toys R Us to get a training aid. After a while the goal of finding the store became almost as important as completing the task of finding the training aid. Total waste of time! Yes it was but at least the training exercise was a smash success as a result.

So we can go two ways with this post: 1. Awareness, 2. Strategy

Awareness:

In order to be successful we need to constantly cultivate a sense of present moment awareness. I like to consider this with two phrases.

a. thinking about our thinking

An aware person will regulate their thoughts and will reflect on what they are thinking about and adjust from time to time. A perfect example of this is when we find ourself in a negative place. Our thoughts are pessimistic and lead to negative judgements of others and negative behaviors. Self awareness demands that we become aware of our negative thoughts and make the decision to change them. i will often challenge others who are traveling down negative street to share 3 things that are positive about whatever they are talking about. This often shakes them out of their negative place long enough to become aware of it.

When I sense someone is stressed I encourage them to take a deep breathe and share with me what is bothering them. I speak with a slow measured and soft tone. I breathe slower myself all in an attempt to help them to calm and gain control over their mental processes. In doing this the person generally will become more aware of where they are at and can with assistance see alternate solutions to what previously seemed an impossible situation.

b. What is my role in this current situation

Often people interact with others and find the situation not to their liking. Their negative judgement then reinforces the interpersonal dynamic making the situation even worse. I like to ask what my role is so that I can change the context and change the interpersonal dynamic. Often in random predictable situations I will act in seemingly bizarre ways. For instance at a restaurant with a group and when asked for a name to wait for a table I will make up a name. It amazes me the effect this has on other people. They cannot understand why I would do such a thing.

Change your perspective, change your thoughts. Change your thoughts change your outcomes.

A recent favorite is to go to Chik Fil A and make it difficult for the staff to use their trademark “my pleasure” response. A silly game yes, changing the context and my awareness in the moment ABSOLUTELY. We must understand how we interact with others to appreciate what is going on around us. After all the world is not some random movie playing out in front of us for our amusement, rather it is much like an Improv where our every action elicits a response from others. To a significant extent our lives are created by our actions. Do you like the plot of your life? No? Change it! Change your behaviors get a different response.

Strategy

Finally the point of the post! Thought I would never get here.

As a small business owner it is crucial that you understand where you want to take your business. It is not enough  to have a vague concept of what your business is about and what you want to achieve. In week 2 I was able to hold onto one core goal, cash flow. How much cash should my new business generate in month 1? What was my plan for month 2, 3 and 4 etc. What about the year. With goals set in this area it became quite simple to begin to set sales appointments to begin to see how my business could generate value in its core focus areas of training and coaching.

Strategy need not be a go to the mountain top and come back with a polished strategy book. No it needs to be something far more elegantly simple and effective. A short list of organizational priorities linked directly to your company’s core competencies. For me with one major contract secured setting a cash flow goal was a logical and effective starting point. Delving deeper into understanding other core strategies to business success would come later. First protect and grow your cash flow.

Not a lot more to say of week 2. In the next post we will look further at strategy, goal setting and asking for the order.

Live on Purpose!

Ron

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