The idea of launching a brand new business and then seeing where it takes you is a romantic concept, isn’t it? Blindly venturing into the unknown… taking on new challenges as they arise… dealing with uncertainties when they pop up… solving problems as they come along…
It all sounds like an entrepreneur’s dream scenario, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not. In fact, it’s probably more like a nightmare; an accident waiting to happen. If you plunge into a new venture before you’ve determined how you’re going to handle all the bumps in the road to come, you will probably find yourself in a long line of disabled and abandoned cars along Entrepreneurial Highway.
Stephen R. Covey probably said it best in his landmark work, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. His second Habit admonishes people to “Begin with the End in Mind.” In other words, first figure out where you want to end up, then work backwards to determine the steps you’ll need to take to get there.
Will there be surprises along the way? For sure. Will there be challenges you could not possibly have anticipated? Absolutely. Will there be turns you’ll have to make after you envisioned steering straight ahead? Yep.
But taking a significant amount of time to think through everything in advance – and discussing with fellow entrepreneurs how they handled unexpected challenges – will give you a far greater chance to succeed when you’re starting your new business.
Wharton Professor Emeritus Russell Ackoff, author of more than 20 books and considered a great management innovator, and his co-authors referred to a similar concept as “idealized design” in their book titled Idealized Design: How to Dissolve Tomorrow’s Crisis…Today.
They were focused more on change within an organization than in building a business from the ground up, but the concept is the same. They taught business owners to envision the ideal solution to the problems they were facing, then work backwards to where they were currently stuck.
For entrepreneurs to be successful in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive environment, they must understand where they want to end up and have a detailed roadmap showing how they plan to get there. Envisioning the path from the end of the line back to the starting point will help them navigate that road much more smoothly, with far fewer detours.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.