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8 Steps To Help You Plan for Business Success, a How-To Guide

Antifragile

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Planning is essential to the success of any business.
But what exactly should you be planning for? And how do you know if you're over-planning?


There is no one way, but it is better to have a method than not. Before we go on, I lied in the title - there are no 8 steps, there never are the 8 steps. That the most important thing to realize in business, you are the leader, you are solving problems that have not yet been solved there can never be 8 or 37 steps on how to get it right and become mega rich. With that out of the way...

Based on a request from @mikecarlooch - my thoughts from personal experience, hope you find them helpful.


How-to?

The first step
is to break down your goals into three distinct phases: startup, growth, and maturity. Each phase has its own unique challenges and opportunities, so your planning should be tailored to fit.
  • Startup phase: The focus during this phase is on getting the business off the ground. You'll need to establish your brand, build awareness, and acquire customers. This is also the time to put together a solid foundation for future growth.
  • Growth phase: Once your business is up and running, the focus shifts to growth. This is when you'll need to scale your operations, expand into new markets, and drive revenue.
  • Maturity phase: In this final phase, your goal is to maintain and sustain your current level of success. You'll need to focus on efficiency, profitability, and cash flow.

The key to success in any phase is to have a clear and achievable goal. Without a goal, you'll simply be spinning your wheels without making any progress. So ask yourself: what do you want to achieve in each phase?

Once you know your goals, you can start putting together a plan of action. But beware of over-planning. It's important to strike a balance between being prepared and being flexible. Over-planning can lead to stagnation, while too much flexibility can lead to chaos.

That's great but again, how?

The best way to find that balance is to start with a basic framework and then tweak it as you go. Do some research, make a few calculations, and then take things one step at a time. The goal is to get the ball rolling and then make adjustments as you go.

Personal example, I found The Predictable Success Lifecycle helpful to visualize (credit to Les McKeown)

Screen Shot 2022-10-20 at 6.22.52 AM.png



Rephrasing it as I understood it many years ago and applied to my own businesses:
  1. Early struggle is all about getting sales. You cannot overthink this phase, you are the CEO and the Janitor of your company. You do most of the work because you have not made your first sale and you have no money to hire people (yet). The focus is on sales. You need to get cash-inflow. You need your revenues. Your plan must be focused around getting sales.
  2. Fun is when you can't believe your own "luck", you got sales, you are doing well and earning a living. It is "fun" in contrast to the Early Struggle. ;) Think about it as restaurant owner who is also a chef. Finally customers showed up! Finally you have profits. You just don't have scale and you can stay here (typically solo-entrepreneurs can be very happy with what they make here) and have fun with your business.
  3. White water is where your systems are insufficient to accommodate for your growth. This is what I think @mikecarlooch was realizing with his video business. If he gets just 30 more clients, he won't be able to handle the work. Mike, your planning on how to get out from "white water" is focused more on systems than on sales. You must borrow, steal, invent systems to handle volume now - you are scaling your business. Imagine white water rafting, rapid speed of water makes it hard but if you have technique - it'll get you where you want to go. At this stage you must focus on systems more than on sales. You plan how to handle volume of work. It is just as hard, if not harder than "early struggle" phase.
Once you figure it out, that's what Les calls "Predictable Success". And then we know, corporate bureaucracy starts kicking in and we have a whole set of new problems, but that is beyond what I wanted to start with this thread.

The most important thing to remember is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to business planning. What works for one company might not work for another. So find what works for you and stick with it. With a little trial and error, you'll eventually find the perfect formula for success.
 
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mikecarlooch

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Planning is essential to the success of any business.
But what exactly should you be planning for? And how do you know if you're over-planning?


There is no one way, but it is better to have a method than not. Before we go on, I lied in the title - there are no 8 steps, there never are the 8 steps. That the most important thing to realize in business, you are the leader, you are solving problems that have not yet been solved there can never be 8 or 37 steps on how to get it right and become mega rich. With that out of the way...

Based on a request from @mikecarlooch - my thoughts from personal experience, hope you find them helpful.


How-to?

The first step
is to break down your goals into three distinct phases: startup, growth, and maturity. Each phase has its own unique challenges and opportunities, so your planning should be tailored to fit.
  • Startup phase: The focus during this phase is on getting the business off the ground. You'll need to establish your brand, build awareness, and acquire customers. This is also the time to put together a solid foundation for future growth.
  • Growth phase: Once your business is up and running, the focus shifts to growth. This is when you'll need to scale your operations, expand into new markets, and drive revenue.
  • Maturity phase: In this final phase, your goal is to maintain and sustain your current level of success. You'll need to focus on efficiency, profitability, and cash flow.

The key to success in any phase is to have a clear and achievable goal. Without a goal, you'll simply be spinning your wheels without making any progress. So ask yourself: what do you want to achieve in each phase?

Once you know your goals, you can start putting together a plan of action. But beware of over-planning. It's important to strike a balance between being prepared and being flexible. Over-planning can lead to stagnation, while too much flexibility can lead to chaos.

That's great but again, how?

The best way to find that balance is to start with a basic framework and then tweak it as you go. Do some research, make a few calculations, and then take things one step at a time. The goal is to get the ball rolling and then make adjustments as you go.

Personal example, I found The Predictable Success Lifecycle helpful to visualize (credit to Les McKeown)

View attachment 45596



Rephrasing it as I understood it many years ago and applied to my own businesses:
  1. Early struggle is all about getting sales. You cannot overthink this phase, you are the CEO and the Janitor of your company. You do most of the work because you have not made your first sale and you have no money to hire people (yet). The focus is on sales. You need to get cash-inflow. You need your revenues. Your plan must be focused around getting sales.
  2. Fun is when you can't believe your own "luck", you got sales, you are doing well and earning a living. It is "fun" in contrast to the Early Struggle. ;) Think about it as restaurant owner who is also a chef. Finally customers showed up! Finally you have profits. You just don't have scale and you can stay here (typically solo-entrepreneurs can be very happy with what they make here) and have fun with your business.
  3. White water is where your systems are insufficient to accommodate for your growth. This is what I think @mikecarlooch was realizing with his video business. If he gets just 30 more clients, he won't be able to handle the work. Mike, your planning on how to get out from "white water" is focused more on systems than on sales. You must borrow, steal, invent systems to handle volume now - you are scaling your business. Imagine white water rafting, rapid speed of water makes it hard but if you have technique - it'll get you where you want to go. At this stage you must focus on systems more than on sales. You plan how to handle volume of work. It is just as hard, if not harder than "early struggle" phase.
Once you figure it out, that's what Les calls "Predictable Success". And then we know, corporate bureaucracy starts kicking in and we have a whole set of new problems, but that is beyond what I wanted to start with this thread.

The most important thing to remember is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to business planning. What works for one company might not work for another. So find what works for you and stick with it. With a little trial and error, you'll eventually find the perfect formula for success.
@Antifragile this is exactly what I was looking for.

I know there's a ton of frameworks to follow and it's easy to get distracted by them, but I'll stay disciplined with this way of thinking that you put here.

Thanks for this awesome thread!
 

heavy_industry

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