Building a business is similar to taking a long road trip. The more time, energy and effort you put into planning and preparing, the more likely you are to not only successfully reach your destination, but actually, enjoy the journey as well.
If you were to decide to drive from LA to NYC, you probably wouldn't just jump in the car and start driving. You would probably do some research to see what the best route would be, where you might want to stop along the way and set goals for how many miles you wanted to drive every day. In fact, the more plans you make - including alternate or backup plans - the more likely your trip is to be a smooth, successful and enjoyable one.
Your Business Strategy Road Trip
Organizing a successful business strategy involves many of these same principles.
The first thing you need to do is decide on a destination and then you need to figure out exactly what you are going to do to reach it.
Generally, this involves a great deal of testing and research before you simply get in the car and start driving. Let's say you have an entirely new product you want to launch. You can go through all the work and expense of getting your product manufactured on the assumption you know exactly who is going to buy it, only to have it be a huge flop because you did not test your theory first.
TAKEAWAY: Before you go spending a fortune marketing a product for a certain demographic, you need to find out if your product actually appeals to that demographic.
If it doesn't, you need to find out why. In some cases, it might be the product itself while in other cases, it might just be an issue with the design or packaging of the product. Once you have a product that appeals to the market you are targeting, you can start building a marketing campaign for that demographic. Here are three steps to organizing an effective and successful business strategy:
#1 Decide on your destination
When you think about it, you can't get to where you want to go if you have no idea where you are going. While your desired destination may change over time, before you get in the car and start driving, you need to at least know where you want to go.
While this seems like a fairly simple concept, it is somewhat shocking how few people really have a firm goal in mind when building a business. Building a business is a long journey and you will need inspiration along the way.
A key motivation that is likely to keep you going when things get rough is to see how far you have come.
Without a specific destination, however, it will feel as if there is no end in sight - because there isn't. When you decide to drive from LA to New York, you can measure two things: how far you have come and exactly how much farther you have to go before reaching your destination. The closer you get to your destination, the more excitement it creates and the more impetus there is to push through and reach it. Without a destination, however, you just keep driving and driving and driving, with no idea where you are going or how you will even know when you've arrived.
#2 Develop a comprehensive plan for reaching your destination
The more research you do in advance, the more likely you are to reach your destination. This is exactly why a destination is a crucial factor: you can begin to research the various ways of reaching your destination and narrow them down to the most expedient.
Remember that above all else, your goal is to develop a smooth, efficient, streamlined system for reaching your destination. Even Ford knew he needed a streamlined system when he was thinking of ways to increase the number of vehicles he could produce in a day. He wouldn’t stop until he found a system to improve car production lines in such disruptive ways that everyone else had to follow suit if they wanted to keep up. This system helped him achieve more profit while making his product more affordable, which is one of the best ways to get more people to buy from you.
#3 Start moving, testing and tweaking as you go
Things rarely work in the real world the same way they do on paper, but that doesn't mean the work you've done on paper doesn't matter. The more planning you have done, the more prepared you will be to deal with the unexpected. For instance, it would be foolish to go on a journey of several thousands of miles without ensuring that you have travel insurance, some type of roadside assistance and access to extra funds for emergencies. If you took the time to put all of these contingency plans in place before setting out, however, you are less likely to fail in your journey due to a flat tire, vehicle breakdown or running out of gas.
Nothing in life is ever going to go 100% according to plan, but like the old adage goes: if you fail to plan, plan to fail. The more comprehensive and solid your business strategy is, the more likely it is to get you exactly where you want to go.
About the Author
Jen McKenzie is an independent business consultant from New York. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie