Month: January 2020

Imagining the Unimaginable

Buckle up! Because here we go, spinning at 24,000 mph, over the event horizon into a shiny, brand new decade! How do you feel? Like an adventurer? Or spinning out-of-control on an amusement park ride? If only we could predict what is ahead! And that is what humans have tried to do for hundreds of years, because we have both anticipation and trepidation.

We try our best to predict the future. As I type this, many entrepreneurs are creating folders on their desktops with names such as Plans, Projections, and Predictions For the Next Decade. But, if you have been an entrepreneur for any length of time, you know how incredibly hard it is to guess the future. Small Business projections are about as accurate as weather predictions. In other words, enter the Butterfly Effect, better known as Chaos Theory. So why should we even do it?

Despite the risks and hazards, planning in small business still comes highly recommended–even the dreaded financial projections. Despite the high margin of error, here are five reasons why you should do your best at predicting as far out as you can see:

Planning helps set your dreams, and dreams, at least sometimes, really do come true! William Blake said, “Everything that exists was first imagined.” Without imagination, innovation would cease to exist. In your wildest dreams, what can you imagine in your future? I feel a lot smarter when I peruse predictions made in the 1800s about the here and now. They got a lot of things wrong. Still, some predictions were amazingly accurate. In 1865, Jules Verne imagined a trip to the moon in a lunar module named Columbia. Piloted by three astronauts, his aluminum vessel was approximately the same weight as the real Mercury Capsule. His imaginary mission launched in Florida, with a splashdown in the ocean–all eerily close to the actual events that happened over 100 years later. Go figure! The 2001 Space Odyssey predicted the ‘flat screen news pad” in 1968. Beyond the novel, Nikola Tesla predicted wireless communication, and Marshall McCluhan predicted the internet. I could go on and on. How far can you see into your future? Go ahead and dream! How do you know that it will not, someday, come true?

Planning helps set the trajectory you want to take. Even if it is a general trajectory, at least you are headed toward the right galaxy. What is important to you? Where do you want to go? How will you get there? In the years that I have been helping small business owners with their advertising, I cannot tell you how many entrepreneurs took for granted their partner was on the same page. It was painfully evident that they were not. All business decisions become easier when a plan is in place.

Planning helps you avoid at least some of the pitfalls of small business. Small Business is a perilous venture, with many unknowns. Around every corner, you will encounter meteors in your flight path. Planning helps you to recognize trends, and trends help us to identify things that are outside the norm– things that may indicate a threat. If you have already prepared for the known pitfalls, you will be in a much better position to handle those pitfalls you cannot yet see.

Planning helps you connect the dots. Many opportunities will not appear until you have mapped out the path. We travel forward with the light we have, but only when you get to the end of your headlights will the next part of your journey be illuminated. Sure, a single prediction is highly unstable. Creating different if/then scenarios will help you to pivot to a new dot when necessary.

Planning holds you accountable. To get where you want to go, you must begin where you are. Creating measurable benchmarks and goal posts along the way helps you to know you are making progress. Even if no one else is holding your feet to the fire, the plan creates the gentle reminder to note the difference between what you said you would do, and where you are.

Entrepreneurs will forever seek to discover and predict the rest of the story. We must continue to dream! We need to plan to control whatever we can control because there is so much in our environment that we cannot. Evolution theory would concur with this. The survival of the fittest favors those with at least Some Fear.

That is, at least, how my T-shirt reads: Some Fear. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is moving forward, even in the face of fear. This is our wish for you. We wish you courage to move forward with your dreams, and #2020Vision for 2020!

Happy New Year!