No doubt you have experienced positive growth and unfortunate set backs that affected your business and who you are as an individual. The very beauty of a new year is to reflect, celebrate and learn from all of these events and use this new found knowledge to help promote growth. Okay, maybe for some of you this sounds a bit "sappy," but please bear with me. I was sitting down during the holiday season and plotting my course both personally and professionally for 2009. It was on the latter, that I found myself needing the advice and wisdom of my number one mentor. My father is a highly respected and successful entrepreneur, an amazing listener, the guy who asks the TOUGH questions, and most of all a big supporter! The problem I needed his wisdom on, was where to FOCUS and how to PRIORITIZE the exciting opportunities I have on my plate. The advice and dialogue that followed affected me so profoundly, that I felt compelled to share it with you, in the hope that it will inspire you as you plot your own course in the new year. Simply put, our discussion was around chasing rainbows. In other words, should you go after those exciting opportunities you are thinking about? Is it worth exerting all that time and energy on something that could very well turn out to evaporate before your eyes? Business experts and books galore, will warn you about relinquishing control to such temptations, and rightfully so. Countless businesses have folded from a lack of focus and from gambling on a big idea. Yet as entrepreneurs this is usually what drives us! We are always looking for that next "big thing" that can drive our business to exponential growth. Unfortunately in its pursuit, we can find ourselves ignoring our core business and watching not only our "big ideas" disappear into thin air, but our regular income as well. Nevertheless, after much deliberation and discussion, I am here today to encourage you to PLEASE, PLEASE continue to CHASE the RAINBOWS. The fact is it's these big ideas that so often provide us with additional passion and purpose. It's these same big ideas that force us out of our comfort zone, that keep us thinking outside the box and that promote continuous improvement in what we do. Take a closer look at so many highly successful entrepreneurs and you will see that their success hinged on the execution of, and commitment to at least one "big idea." BUT - you need to tread carefully when chasing rainbows or you could end up eroding, or worse destroying your business. The KEY lies in planning discipline, patience and most importantly keeping the 'big ideas" in perspective. I have included some tips and insights that came from my conversation with my father below (now if I could just translate his golf tips into reality as easily). 1. Your CORE is KEY. There are only so many hours in the day and the last thing you want to do is erode the base of your business. So when planning for the new year, ensure that the bulk of your time (80% - 90%) is still focused on maintaining and growing your core business. This is what has got you where you are and you already know what is involved to get more of the same and probably even to grow it even larger. The biggest mistake a company can make is to ignore its core business or assume it will take care of itself. 2. Identify Your "Big Ideas" - List them and rank them in order of motivation. That's right, which one(s) are you the most motivated to accomplish. To help you decide, include key criteria, such as: Why the heck is this "idea' on your list anyway and how important is it compared to the other ideas? Why is it this important? How much time and money will it take? How much impact will it have on your business - both long term and short term? How much impact does it have on you personally? Are there other individuals or factors that control the outcome besides you? How much control do they have? 3. Choose your NUMBER ONE Rainbow - As you are well aware, time can slip away from us and unpredicted events WILL happen throughout the year that will affect your overall productivity. For these reasons, it's best to have ONE idea that will take precedent over the others. If push comes to shove, this is THE idea you will continue to make some time for throughout the year. 4. Make time for Chasing - Assuming you work at least a 40 hour week, allocate about 10% of you time (4 hours) to work on your "big idea(s)". Of course if you were to do this in one hour increments, it wouldn't be very productive, so try to allocate half a day or one evening a week. Make it a FIRM appointment and if you have to cancel it for any reason, reschedule it for a different time that week. Otherwise, all you end up with at the end of the year is the same big IDEA and no end RESULT. 5. Know When It's Time to Stop Chasing - someone once told me that entrepreneurs can be like drug addicts. We get so DEEP into what we are doing and feel that we have invested so MUCH that we can't abandon it. Remember rainbows can evaporate, and big ideas can be long shots. It's best to determine in advance what has to happen by when for you to continue pursuing this particular rainbow. When you get to that point, review the situation carefully and if you decide to still move forward set a new date and new objectives that have to be met by that date.