When you start your entrepreneurial journey, the future seems a little blurred. This happens because we don’t know exactly what is going to happen. There is too much stuff we ﬁgure out along the way, we may think this is why we don’t need a plan. This is completely wrong. Every entrepreneur, no matter how uncertain the future might look, needs to have a plan, a vision. When you become an entrepreneur you need to understand that we don’t know everything that is required in order to succeed. We don’t know if what we planned is going to work out. We only know that it is likely that we are going to fail, and often. But don’t be discouraged. You learn from your mistakes and that’s how you grow and improve.
Plans change according to the circumstances. Since premature startups tend to deviate from its original path, we need to make a strategic plan to focus. Otherwise, it is likely you are going to waste energy and resources (money and time most importantly).
When we plan we need to understand that we may have to adjust it over time. Make some little changes. Because there is some stuff that maybe seemed to work when you were writing it down or thinking it, but in the practice didn’t satisﬁed you. If there’s an idea that is slowing down the growth of your business, you need to make a change. Sometimes we insist on executing a bad idea and we need to think about what is best for our startup.
What is the vision?
It is important to point out that the vision of a startup or any business is the last goal the business wants to reach. It is important that no other objectives obstruct the path to achieve it. When you build a startup, you are in the first phase of that business. The vision is the final objective of the business that the founders (and co-founders) established and want to achieve. They plan to reach this goal in the distant future.
Big companies achieve their vision over time, and then they create a second one. But this is intended to happen after a long time has passed. Since we are entrepreneurs and we work in startups; we should first focus on reaching that vision which is, at last, the business’ purpose.
Set goals to make a plan
If you don’t know exactly how you could make a plan I will tell you how you could easily do it without having a degree in business administration. Simply, break down your objective. Analyze the different tasks and activities you need to do in order to accomplish that big objective. Set smaller goals. If some of those new goals are still big, repeat the process.
This is how you could itemize your biggest objectives so you can easily focus on the tasks that are more important to do. And it would be easier to achieve more complex goals, such as your startup’s vision.
Long-term and short-term
There are two types of planning. It is really important that we think at a strategic level (long-term) and at an operational one (short-term).
Long-term (strategic level)
The long-term is about thinking 5 to 10 years in the future. How do you think your business will look like in that amount of time?
The long-term is your dream, what you expect to achieve. Your biggest goals.
You need to establish big objectives when you do this. Try not to be modest or to exaggerate. You actually can and need to exaggerate a little. You need to believe you can succeed at that time. That’s how you will be motivated to make that dream come true. If you are writing those goals on paper or on the computer, do it with conﬁdence.
Long-term thinking is about thinking how much will your business grow, how much monthly sales you will have, what new activities you expect to do in that business. Also in which other countries or regions you’d like to operate in the future. And most importantly, how are you going to achieve it. Social media marketing, advertising, training (to acquire new skills) and the different strategies you are going to use. You don’t have to be speciﬁc while thinking about this.
Short term (operational level)
This type of planning is not less important, it just has a different focus.
You need to think about the routine tasks you are going to do. This sort of planning focuses on the action plan.
An action plan is the series of steps, activities, and tasks that need to be done or performed in order to reach that vision (or main goal). This plan is speciﬁc and that’s how the action plan has to be.
Some things don’t need to be too meticulously described since there is some stuff that you’ll learn by doing. Maybe the use of social media platforms is one of those activities you won’t describe in a plan. But there are other more operational tasks that you should plan. How to order supplies from a provider or supplier could be an activity you should plan in advance. How are you going to select your suppliers? Maybe you will put first the provider’s location over their product’s quality. Or how do you plan to make your purchases? Are you going to buy a few goods and increase your purchases when your sales rise? Or do you rather buy a big shipment so you can benefit from a possible discount?
It is important that you make a plan, but you need to execute it. Otherwise, it would be useless and you won’t see any progress. You will get lost and you need to have your goals and objectives explicitly described.