Hope is Not a Strategy. Plan for Success!

During my time in the military, officers were taught that if you don’t plan, you are planning to fail. Proper planning was seen as critical to mission success.

This was also a commonly held belief in the entrepreneurial world for years, as massive business plans were built with intensive research and analytics before moving forward.

Recently, however, some have proven this notion not to be a necessity, as entrepreneurs have started successful businesses from plans sketched out on the back of a napkin.The ability to quickly pivot and iterate from an idea to meet market demands has demonstrated that the quick moving founders, with their fingers on the pulse of an industry, can have enormous success.

But does this mean all planning can be jettisoned? Hardly.

In my career and studies with other entrepreneurs, I have found three key areas where a little planning and due diligence prior to embarking on your entrepreneurial journey will yield massive results -- and may help you to avoid mission failure.

1. Who Are You?

I’ve met multiple founders who started their company based on an idea and their passion for a hobby or industry. Unfortunately, a few years later they found they hated the job they had created for themselves. As the host of less glamorous behind-the-scenes details took them away from the thing they loved, they realized they liked the idea of the business, but hated the daily management and stress of leading a company.

Every role requires different talents and some people are just not wired to be a CFO, CEO, or head of sales and marketing, and trying to be all of them at the same time can be stressful. Knowing your skills, talents, passions, and underlying personality is critical for success.

Many people have never had an in-depth personality or career assessment done on them and not knowing your unique traits and skills as an entrepreneur can lead to big mistakes. Take an assessment at CareerDirect to make proper plans that leverage your strengths and build strategies to compensate for your weak spots.

2. Are You Equipped?

Peter Thiel shook the business world when he issued his 100k challenge to get aspiring entrepreneurs to drop out of school to start their business saying that a degree today was over rated for entrepreneurs. He knows that the right idea with a talented and passionate founder is all it takes to start game changing companies.

Just as important, knowledge is no longer conveyed in the hallowed halls of elite universities. Entrepreneurs have access to world-class education from the best institutions in the world via MOOCs and other online learning platforms. Why waste four years and over $100,000 for an education that Will Hunting famously said, “you could have received with a $1.50 in late charges from your local library.” As you embark on your journey, leverage sites like EdX and Coursera to take classes as you need them.

3. Are You Invested?

Many members of our society buy into the “Fake It Till You Make It” motto. While they’re attempting to keep up with the “Jones” and live the lives of an MTV Cribs episode, they’re also over leveraging their credit cards. This disaster is not only a national tragedy, it hinders people from building successful companies and taking advantage of opportunities that come their way.

Founders and entrepreneurs understand the value of having a low consumption lifestyle so they can heavily invest in their company and projects. These assets, unlike most consumer items, will grow in value, produce revenue, and be a sellable asset in the years to come. Most importantly, those who choose this lifestyle are free to make choices in life that will yield the greatest benefits to them and their families.

The greatest status symbol today is not a watch or car, but having the freedom to live life on your terms.

Being financially capable of heavily investing yourself in your company is critical. Equally important is being invested with your time. For your startup to thrive, you, and any member of your founding team, need to be 100% invested in its success. Your family is also a key stakeholder and they must be willing to make sacrifices for a season as you build and scale. If any member of the team is not invested and willing to make sacrifices, it is just a matter of time before the train comes off the tracks.

Peter Drucker once said that, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” It is important to have a plan of action and metrics to hit along the journey, but our daily actions will ultimately dictate whether these plans succeed or fail. It is a tough journey fraught with many obstacles, but those brave enough to venture out also know that is one of the most exciting and rewarding things you can do. Entrepreneurs trade security for freedom, and in the process, often have more fun and end up with much more security. Take The Leap!


Robert Dickie is the author of The Leap: Launching Your Full Time Career in Our Part Time Economy. As president of Crown, he is dedicated to helping people create long term plans for financial, career, and business success. Bob serves on multiple non-profit boards, and is an avid mountain climber and runner. He and his wife, Brandi, have been happily married for almost 20 years and have been blessed with five children.

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