Those of us engaged in Monopolistic Competition (all small businesses) are closely akin to competing as one football team with another or being a political leader. We don’t have a significant differentiation that will propel us far beyond everyone else for decades, such as a patent. Few do.
Even for those who do, such as Coca-Cola, which has been around for more than a hundred years as a market leader, it isn’t because the guy who started it had a master plan. No, they have had hundreds of master plans over those hundred years because things change. I doubt if they envisioned their product being delivered in cans via tractor trailers or the flavor of Cherry Vanilla Coke when the first bottling plant was opened in Chattanooga in 1899.
So instead of perfecting his planning, I suggest we adjust his reality to the Bret Favre reality (a favorite football player of Waffle).
Bret is the retired quarterback of the Green Bay…er, New York…er, Minneapolis Vikings. Wait, he’s not retired! Hmm. I suggest he get a photo of Bret and put it on his desk. Why? Long term, Bret has difficulty deciding. Regardless of whether he can decide on his long term plan or not, Bret can only play one game at a time. His tactic has to be that of focusing on this game, not taking the eye off the ball, and not overlooking the current minor opponent who may whip him while he’s focused on the big game that is weeks off.
Bret has to play one play at a time and focus on passing when it’s time to pass, and focus on handoffs when it’s time to run, and not focus on the strategy of whether or not to run a wildcat offense. And he has to change his plans play by play, depending on what the other team does.
Even skillful political leaders have to make changes in their perception, based on the realities of what government will do. A governor may want a certain legislative package, but may settle for something less than everything, depending on the number of legislative votes he has.
So here are two thoughts:
- Setting goals and trying to determine where we are going when we grow up is a worthwhile exercise and will be beneficial in getting more of what we want than if we didn’t. So we will set goals and plan.
- Striving to create a plan now that will not have to be changed on a yearly, monthly, or sometimes a daily basis is unrealistic. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to do so.
So if you can’t decide what you want to be when you grow up, put a picture of Bret Favre on your desk to remind yourself to work on a long term strategy to win. But remember that plan will have to be revisited often. Additionally, if you don’t execute the tactics to win the current game, your strategy won’t matter because you won’t be around to see it. Change is the constant companion of quarterbacks and business owners.
Then relax and enjoy the fantastic ride that your business provides—all the way to your personally meaningful goal.
Tom Crouser is principal of Crouser & Associates, Inc., 4710 Chimney Drive, Charleston, WV 25302, 304/965-7100. Follow his weekday tweets at www.twitter.com/tomcrouser. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out the unique business opportunity for small press printers offered by CPrint International at www.cprint.org. This article is available as a podcast at www.quickprinting.com/podcast and from iTunes.