In 2002, Elon Musk founded SpaceX, essentially because he wanted to colonize Mars, but he didn’t even have affordable rocket power to send some plants to the planet. Late last year, NASA signed a contract with SpaceX, making them one of two companies contracted to take passengers to the International Space Station.
Granted, most small businesses don’t have the financial resources to literally reach for the stars in such a grand fashion. But, this doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t think big.
Here is an organized approach that can help your company move toward amazing accomplishments and profits.
Develop a lofty long-term vision
You’ll never fly to Mars if you don’t even know that you want to go there, but a vision with a strong sense of purpose can make anything possible. Musk believes that populating a second planet with humans is the only way to prevent the extinction of humanity. On the other hand, you may believe that a previously untried way of implementing the software design process can bring greater efficiency to your company and profound benefits to your clients.
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If you can imagine that achieving your vision will put your face on the front cover of every business magazine — and interviews on prominent cable business networks — then don’t worry about the potential costs or even immediate client acceptance. This is your perception of a better future; you’ll address the practicalities soon enough.
Create a segmented strategy
It took countless steps for SpaceX to get to today’s space station contract and it has many more steps to go before they begin populating Mars. The chances are that your company cannot fly to your long-term vision in one fell swoop, either.
Your job is to break your long-term goals into manageable chunks. Step 1 is to look hard at all possible options. There is probably more than one path toward accomplishing your vision, so take some time to try to predict the pros and cons of each step before writing down the ones that make the most sense. Once completed, your strategy document can double as a road map of the implementation process.
As you start working your plan, recognize all the strategizing in the world cannot prevent surprise glitches. Everyone knows that failures are the best teachers, yet most of us fear failure more than we welcome its valuable lessons.
You have to dig down to the underlying reasons, which might turn out to be very minor in nature. Did your new programming strategy fail because someone missed important steps when designing the new process or did a minor typo create the glitch?
The point here is that failure seldom signals the need to quit. In many cases, you need to identify the causes for failure, fix them and then applaud the fact that you are one step closer to achieving your vision.
Don’t forget that a perceived failure might lead to another big idea. The adhesive used for sticky notes was developed by a failure to create super-strong adhesive for use by the aerospace industry. It took about five years, but someone finally recognized the value of a mild tacky substance that led to must-have products for office workers everywhere.
Share your vision
Everyone on your team has different skills and interests, so you never know who might think of something that will take your vision over the top. It is so important for everyone in the company to know where you want your company to be in the near, middle and long-term future. Invite them to share ideas on how to get there.
Also, consider discussing your dreams judiciously with individuals outside of your immediate business. Friends and family members can surprise you with solutions that you may never have considered, and professional organization meetings are a great source of ideas.
Factor in realism… to a point
Even NASA says that the odds are in favor of a successful SpaceX Mars mission, but getting people there safely is less certain, much less planet colonization. In late 2016, Musk addressed an enthralled audience about the project and its progress, but he clearly indicated a lack of concern about the many serious outstanding issues.
For small business owners, most big visions do not come with the potential for fatal outcomes, but any number of major concerns can still factor into the mix. Naturally, you need to identify the risks and consider them in your plans. But, if you want to achieve big goals, you can’t let seemingly unmanageable problems hamper your vision. By keeping your mind open to the impossible, you can often achieve it.
About Carol Roth
Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.
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