The secret of making progress is to get started. We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are
An entrepreneur is someone who sees a new opportunity and creates a business or social enterprise to exploit it. Throughout the Pacific are examples of young, and not so young, entrepreneurs who have seen an opportunity to do something for themselves and grasped it with both hands. In this series I am exploring what it means to be an entrepreneur in the Pacific. Today my focus is on how best to plan the way forward – to make progress.
‘First steps are always the hardest, but until they are taken the notion of progress remains only a notion and not an achievement’.
Most entrepreneurs start their journey with a dream, a passion to do something – for themselves, their families, their communities, their world. However, vision without action will not change anything. You need to take the first bold steps and then, once you have done that, every further step will feel easier and more straightforward.
Try creating your own entrepreneur way forward plan.
Start by imagining your life in 5-10 years’ time, when you have achieved your dreams or are on the way to achieving them. Draw pictures, write a song, write down your ideas, involve others – brainstorm and use your imagination. This stage is called ideation - Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas. It is best done with others – friends, family, colleagues, staff. What will success look like? How will you feel?
Once you are clearer about your 5-10-year visionary goals then decide on say three short-term goals that are going to help you get started. These goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time limited. For example, ‘I want to lose weight’ is not a SMART goal but ‘I want to lose 10 kilos in the next 6 months’ is.
Once your three ‘way forward’ goals are clear, then you need to create a strategy for achieving each one. Start by considering several options for each goal before deciding which one to go with. Choose the one that is most likely to work for you. Sometimes you might choose an option that seems to be the right one at the moment but then external events, like cyclones, get in the way so it is always a good idea to keep an option list nearby in case you have to rethink at short notice.
Then start to identify the milestones or results you must reach as stepping stones to achieving your goals. Do not just list actions but focus on the result you want from the action you take. Put a date against each milestone when you intend to reach it. Be realistic but push yourself to make progress quickly!
Decide what actions you are going to take to achieve each milestone and what resources you will need to complete the actions. Remember to include your time and other people in your list of resources. Identify the cost of the resources and make sure you can cover these costs. Obviously, there are a lot of free resources available but you need to hunt for them and decide which ones will be best for you.
Finally, what help or support do you need from others? No-one achieves their goals on their own – two heads are always better than one!
You are likely to benefit from the support of a coach or mentor as you develop your entrepreneur way forward plan. You might even do this as part of a group with other entrepreneurs taking the same approach. Then you can help each other.
My own experience of planning is that it is much more fun when done with other people and you can enjoy the process. It needs to be an evolving process of creativity, not a tedious computer based or paper-based exercise resulting in a long document. Buy yourself a whiteboard or cover a wall with large sheets of paper and use that as your main visual planning tool. Look at it everyday and allow others to look and comment as well.
Keep your focus on the activity of planning, not on the finished document! It might never be finished – it might always be a work in progress.
Remember, life is all about making progress. It is never about perfection.
Next week, I will focus on the best ways to develop and sustain an entrepreneurial mindset. If you need any contacts or advice, then do get in touch.
I hope you enjoy this series. As always, please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told.
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.