Are you in control of your final destination?
The greatest accountant in the world could not possibly tell you where your business is going to be in five years’ time. In fact, neither could a leading stock broker, a qualitative analyst or a roomful of clairvoyants be able to say for certain where you will end up. Some people might take a good guess, you could certainly make a difference by having a plan, and any of the above (except maybe the crystal ball carriers) would be able to give you a range of sensible possibilities, but no one can truly foresee your final destination.
You can, however, take more control over the path that you are following. It takes a little effort, and needs a degree of skill, but it will help you sleep better at night and give you more security about your future. The secret comes from understanding the very nature of pretty much any journey you are likely to make throughout your life. Whether it is a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a walk to the village shops for some milk, or a holiday of a lifetime on the other side of the world, it will be the same.
You are rarely heading in the right direction!
Did you know, that during an average flight pattern an aeroplane is only pointing towards its intended destination for less than 10% of the journey? If you were driving the 14.5 miles on the A15 between Scampton and the M180 (the longest stretch of straight road in the UK) you would still be constantly readjusting the wheel? And a short walk into town, is bound to present unforeseen obstacles and distractions along the way?
The point is that you need to adapt every time you do almost anything. That is why the most successful people in life are those who are most aware of their surroundings and ready for change. This is the same for businesses, and in many ways is more relevant to business than any other activity. There are so many things that can affect your chosen destination, so you have to be constantly readjusting.
A smart business owner is like a good pilot!
In my book ‘How to Make Your Company Fly’, I detail 27 steps to keeping your business on track. These include escaping the day-to-day, releasing your creativity, getting more sales, and becoming more profitable. The idea in the book is that you implement one step each week and see gradual improvement and better direction. Its real secret, though, is simply to check your course and make small adjustments and realignments often.
Today, you can decide where you ‘want to be’ in five years’ time. You can be as creative or ambitious as you like. If you make a plan (it should have smaller steps, be realistic and measurable) then you have a good chance of getting there. But the only way to be sure you’ll arrive safely (or as sure as anyone can be) is to keep going back to your flight plan, checking it and making the necessary corrections along the way that will ensure your success.
You might need to adjust course to avoid obstacles, you might need to slow down or speed up from time to time, but you do need to keep checking the details. You never know, you might even discover, and decide to follow, an event brighter horizon along the way.