Spring means hitting the backcountry on horseback for me. This past Spring was no different. In early May a very good friend of mine and I headed out for an all day ride to make sure the trails were clear for others and to get the horses in shape for summer. The trails were in great shape, not much snow left. The heat wave had melted most of it in a matter of days. The fast snow meltdown this Spring also increased the flow of water down the streams and rivers we typically cross.
After making our plan on how and where to cross a particularly treacherous area of the river we nudged our horses to step into the raging waters. My horse was bigger and stronger than my friends so he went first. Things were going great until his horse was midway across the river. Now, surrounded by rushing waters on all sides and struggling to stay on his feet, the horse turned and looked down stream. Having lost sight of the landing point on the other side of the river; the horse and my friend started stumbling and the river began to sweep them away. My friend immediately lifted the horse's head and turned it to the destination. Now, with a new focus on the landing point, the horse was able to recover and they made it safely to the other side of the river.
Before you start a new business or direction within your company, make a plan. Think through it carefully. Visualize the final outcome of this new venture. Plan for the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario. Be clear. Be exact. Write down every detail. Remember, the plan is for you. It doesn't have to be nicely formatted and printed on expensive paper. It just has to be specific.
Answer yourself three questions.
The Mission First, what is the mission of this new product, service, or company? Think of the mission as the purpose. Are you trying to change the way the world performs a certain task? Are you offering the world a less expensive or more efficient way to perform a task? Are you providing a service that proves to be more cost effective or thorough than someone trying to do this themselves? When you can answer one of these questions in a sentence or two; you have written your mission statement. Yes, write it down. Immediately below it, write you vision.
The Vision Your vision is nothing more than a statement of where you are going. Perhaps you are inventing a new, environmentally friendly mousetrap — your mission. Your vision could be to market and sell a portfolio of environmentally friendly rodent control products worldwide. Think big. This is not the time to worry about how you get there, but rather where you want to be. Write it down just below your Mission Statement. It should only be a sentence or two. Below your Vision Statement write your Goals.
The Goal Now that you have a clear Mission or purpose and you have a Vision of where you are going, it is time to get some details written down. Start with the bigger tasks and then break them down into smaller tasks. Goals must be measurable. I like to build a chart with four columns. The left column is the task. The next column names the person responsible for getting it done. The third column has the due date. The fourth column has the actual completion date. I also break the chart into functional areas even if I am the one doing all the tasks. For example, I may specify engineering and then list all the engineering tasks under this topic. Then marketing with all the marketing tasks listed below that title. Then sales, operations, finance, etc. You can do this in a word processor using the columns feature or in a spreadsheet. Be specific.
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