If you speak to any professional, most will tell you the importance of having a solid plan in place to achieve desired goals. If I am completely upfront with you, (and I vowed to be fully transparent to all of those who follow me, lean on me, or give me their ear as we move this effort forward) it is completely naïve to wing your success. You owe it to your future and legacy to be smarter than that. Broad generalizations as to how we will become successful in our endeavors simply do not work. I encourage you to develop your own personalized roadmap to success. Don’t know where to start? Think about this…
Define your Brand
What do you want to be known for? What do you do better than anyone else? Building a brand that accurately represents you is important. Your brand is your first impression, and while we can build second opportunities, we all know that you only get one true first impression! I also want to stress that EVERYONE should build a brand whether you own a company or work in Corporate America. Regardless of your path you still want to put your name behind your work, and you want your deliverables and value to speak for itself and precede you. Your branding should:
Seeing is believing; give your audience and colleagues visuals to recognize you and what you offer such as a logo, letterhead, attractive and informative website, portfolio, etc.
Highlight your talent
When you hear Michael Jordan you think basketball, Mark Zuckerberg you think Facebook creator, Steve Jobs you think Apple, what skill or product do ou want associated with your name? You may have several talents, but the one you want to be the most recognized for is the one that will dominate your branding.
The court of public opinion definitely starts online these days. Use your favorite social media platforms to showcase your value and push what you offer or create.
Have a Detailed Business Plan
Once you identify what you want to be known for, plan the details of how you will operate. Some business plans are short, and some are super long and there is no right or wrong length but do answer the following questions in your plan:
Who will work with you?
What do you offer?
What are your expenses?
What are your projected profits?
Where will you work?
What do you want to see happen in the next 5 years?
How will you reach the goals you have for those 5 years?
Who is your target market?
How will you reach your market?
To be successful, you must understand how much it will cost to launch and maintain your venture. If you are starting a business, do you need an investor, business loan, or will you crowd source or invest yourself? If you are climbing the corporate ladder, do you need to finance higher education, training courses, or training materials, etc.? If you do not have the necessary cash to fund your vision, do you need to evaluate your credit, build business credit, or meet with a financial advisor, etc.? Figure out what you need financially to succeed and identify your roadblocks early on so that you can face these obstacles head on. Lack of finances does not have to mean the end to your vision. Money is available! Get in solution mode!
Study your Industry
More than likely, you are not creating or offering something that has never been done. You may do it better, you may price it differently, your version may look better, etc. but it has been done before. Pay attention to the trends surrounding your industry and competitors. Seek to answer:
Who are my competitors?
What do you love and hate about their service?
How is their product priced?
What do their followers say about them?
What does the media say about them?
Is their branding effective?
What complaints or backlash have leaders in your field ever received?
Are there economical factors that cause those prominent in this industry to fail or on the contrary, gain traction?
Set short-term goals
I know you want to move mountains (No one knows this better than me), and I am rooting for you to do so but first you have to plant seeds. Make a list of what things you need to do and accomplish this week, this month, and this quarter. These should be tangible, realistic, can-do, but crucial goals, which will stretch you. Chart them and hold yourself accountable to the completion of them. Having accountability partners with this also helps!
Set long-term goals
When planning long-term goals, here is where you can reach for the moon. Many of these goals should be realistically possible but when thinking of where you see yourself in 5,10,20 years think big – again STRETCH yourself. Even if it seems far-fetched, resort back to the smaller, short-term goal planning to take baby steps to achieve the bigger picture – BUT don’t change the goal. For long-term goals, you need a solid plan of action, but you don’t have to understand every moving part or fully know how you will do it. You will grow! Know what you want, what you need, and what you need to do to accomplish your long-term goals and do not fear the tiny details in this part of the planning process. Dream big! Remember, Les Brown eloquently put it when he said,
“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”
This is how I plan every venture I have, and I have several going on now. I am fully committed to this process. Creating a solid plan of action may never be set in stone, but it gives you a good guide and roadmap. Behind every amazing idea, product, company, service, you name it, there is a detailed plan of action and an aggressive, driven, courageous, superstar behind it. Go get it and CRUSH it!