Anyone that knows me understands my love of a good hike. So, when my hiking buddy and I visited Seward Alaska, naturally we decided to hike Exit Glacier. We followed the Harding Ice Field Trail, which is about a four mile hike. That wasn’t a long distance for us. Our longest hike was just shy of 20 miles, so we figured this would be a cinch! We didn’t calculate on two things, however. First, the last three miles of the trail rise over 3000 feet. That brought about changes in the climate; we went from rainforest-like conditions at the start, to tundra, to terrain sparsely snow-covered, to pure snow and ice, and finally what amounted to a blizzard with visibility reduced to maybe a few hundred feet when the wind let up a little! You can get a feel for what we experienced in the picture.
Sadly, we never made it to the end of the trail. Exhausted and rapidly running out of energy, I found myself sinking mid-thigh into the snow at places. My buddy took on water in his footgear, and that froze. Most importantly, we couldn’t SEE where we were going, and had no idea how much further we had to go. That was the second thing we didn’t calculate. Thus we decided to turn back.
When we returned to the Ranger station and spoke with people who knew the trail well, we figured we were probably within ¾-mile of the trail’s end. That was a big letdown! As crazy as we both are, we might have pushed on through if we had seen the end of the trail!
As sad as that was, it’s even more sad to see businesses suffer the same fate. Too often small businesses owners fold up shop, feeling that things aren’t working out. Yet, could it be that they were only a few short weeks or months away from a breakthrough? How can you tell if you’re nearing your goal, or if it’s time to pack it in?
A business plan can help. I know, some of you would rather have root canal surgery than sit down and develop one. But it’s important. Far from being something you develop just to attract investors, it is a blueprint of your business, and sets benchmarks by which you can measure your progress. It helps you clearly define your goals, and those are a result of a compelling and sharply focused vision of where you want to take your business. Most owners say they “want more” and look forward to “being a success.” In many cases, however, they’re only envisioning the results of that success, how it will improve their lifestyle. While that’s important, you also need a clear vision of your business success. What skills do you need to develop? What marketing strategies must you implement? What volume of sales will take you to each step needed to reach your final goal? A business plan helps you define all these things, and establishes benchmarks so you can track your progress along the way. With that in place, you can look at whether you’re hitting your benchmarks and adjust accordingly. If your business plan is properly developed, then you know that hitting your goals assures you the success you want, even if you haven’t achieved the level of profits and income you desire. Those benchmarks become leading indicators of future success.
I know I’m going back to Seward and hiking the Harding Ice Field Trail to the end. However, this time, I will likely go a little later in the year, when the weather improves and visibility is greater. Then I will see my destination and not let anything keep me from reaching it. We also need to do the same with our businesses. Set your goals, develop your benchmarks, and then push on through! You’ll see the sun of success shining on your goals. Get in touch with me to discuss ways to help develop an effective business plan and develop strategies to help you move to the next level of success!
You can contact me in my office at 646-340-8087, or you can leave a comment with your contact info below. I’ll catch you soon!