Nadia James recently posted a thoughtful article on “Why Entrepreneurs Must Stretch to Reach Their Visions of Success” that included the following daily checklist for aligning efforts with goals for your business.
- What vision did I have for my personal and work life when I decided to launch a business? (Think of this vision for yourself as your intended nirvana)
- How close am I to reaching my entrepreneurial nirvana state?
- What are some key elements of my entrepreneurial nirvana state? How can I break this vision into bite sized milestones?
- How can I better operate my business to achieve my milestones?
- What can I do today to invest in my future vision?
She suggests that you spend at least 30 minutes a day working “on the business” instead of just working “in the business.” I like the checklist and had some thoughts on how to operationalize it.
What Can I Do Today to Invest in My Future Vision?
I would start with this question on a daily basis, consider actually planning for tomorrow at the end of the day so that you can start with a key list of todo’s (“What can I do tomorrow to invest in my future vision). As bootstrappers the primary question is where to invest time and focus and how to delegate to others in a manner that communicates the context you want them to operate in, not just the specific task. Explaining your vision for the business in a way that others can act in it is also worth your time.
How Can I Better Operate My Business to Achieve My Milestones?
I think this question is worth asking at the end of each project milestone you complete or any result you deliver to a customer. Daily may be too frequently unless you are working on very small deliverables. There are two things to think about in building raw material for an after action:
- what did I observe that was surprising (or violated my expectations) and
- what are key metrics I can track so that I don’t rely purely on memory when I do the actual actual lessons learned.
Another trigger for this question could be a regular weekly or monthly review of key metrics that measure “distance traveled” and “distance to goal.”
What Is My Vision For The Business
If you can boil this down to high level goals then you have can construct some decision rules for whether you are moving toward your “True North.” Periodically you may come to understand that key assumptions you made about the world, the market, or yourself were wrong and you need to make adjustments. But I think these adjustments are either in response to clear failures or something that you do more on a quarterly or twice a year basis.
How Can I Break this Vision into Bite Sized Milestones?
I think this is great advice, in particular if you can see how you can build a small viable business that you can scale into your full vision. While the vision is important I think the ability to break it into a sequence of milestones is critical to being able to achieving it. These milestones would typically involve things that are directly under your control:
- number of sales conversations,
- saving money to give you more flexibility,
- completing product features or clearly defining the services that you want to offer.
You also need to define “stopping rules” where you have to reconsider an approach or even your commitment to the business so that you can be objective in the face of setbacks.
What does entrepreneurial success mean to you? What milestones must you hit to get there?
How Close Am I to Reaching My Entrepreneurial Vision?
By definition I think your goals evolve as you achieve key aspects of your vision.
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”