In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice is meandering through the woods when she comes upon a cat and asks, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where —” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“— so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Alice’s interaction with the Cheshire Cat taught me that a goal must first be defined before it can be achieved. It is only after we know where we are going and we commit to getting there that we can choose one road over another.
Once we know where we’re going we can chart a course to get there. We can also calculate how long it will take to get to our destination and what challenges we’ll face along the way. Armed with this knowledge, we can also determine what supplies and others resources we’ll need and what sign-posts or mile-markers we’ll see along the way.
In business terms, once we set a goal, we can establish a plan and a budget.
Business owners universally agree that plans and budgets are valuable tools. So why is it that so few of us use this forward thinking when operating our businesses?
Are we so focused on operational issues and day-to-day survival that there’s just no time for strategic planning? Do we lack sufficient knowledge of our own company, customers and industry to offer any meaningful input to a long-range plan? Maybe some combination of the two?
It is often difficult, challenging and time-consuming to create a plan and budget. However, if we want our businesses to survive and thrive, we need a destination to aim for, a roadmap to guide the way and a system for monitoring progress. Hope and luck are insufficient.
Creating a strategic plan is a daunting task and probably something many business owners need help with in order to do properly, but it is by no means impossible. And the more often you create a plan the easier it is to do.
Take the first step. Where do you want your business to be in 12 months? Now write down your plan for getting there. The results will be worth your effort.
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Cheshire Cat image ©DisneyWiki
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