Written by James Garvin for Gaebler Ventures
Most entrepreneurs are visionaries who can see point B often before they see point A. The future of the business is so clear to them that starting the business is a no brainer, but not knowing how to actually get to point B is an entrepreneur's double-edged sword.
As an entrepreneur you must be visionary, you must have that idea that you know will succeed, and you must believe in your idea so much that you are willing to take the risk to get there and forego the hardships that will come trying to get there.
Entrepreneurship is not just about knowing where you want to go; it's knowing how to get there! There is a big difference between the two, and one that not all entrepreneurs understand or think about, especially first timers. Building a business is a long, arduous (and fun) process, but it doesn't happen overnight, it's not easy, and just because you have the best idea in the world and the greatest vision, it won't mean anything unless you can execute the necessary steps to get from A to B.
Tony Hsieh from Zappos.com saw an unparallel opportunity in selling shoes online while most investors and other entrepreneurs sneered at the idea. Zappos of course went on to recently get acquired by Amazon for $928 million, but Zappos didn't just set-up shop one day and become a million dollar hit. Tony and his team were able to clearly understand what they needed to do to get from point A to point B; point B being a hundred million dollar in revenue company and the leading online shoe retailer. Zappos focused first on alleviating the concern and doubt that everyone had about buying shoes online. They were told that consumers would only buy shoes that they could try on. Zappos knew they wouldn't succeed with out overcoming this obstacle and implemented a policy where they would ship multiple pair of shoes to you for free to try and you could return any unopened pair of shoes within a year.
So how exactly do we get from A to B? It starts with working backwards. Draw a line from where you want to be 5 years from now and work backwards to determine what you'll need to do to get to each step prior to the one before. For example, if Zappos wanted to have $25 million in revenue selling shoes online by its 5th year, what would the organization need to look like in 5 years to support these sales? How many employees would it need, how big of a warehouse would it need, etc? How many people would it need visiting its website and what would the cost of acquiring these visitors be?
Once you know what the requirements are for your 5 year vision, start working backwards on each element year by year, month by month, and day by day until you have a daily action plan today! Your daily action plan is what guides and motivates you to get those things that you have to get done in order to get to where you want to be. I see to many entrepreneurs who start a company and are disappointed when sales did not meet their expectations. The #1 cause of sales not meeting expectations is lack of clearly understanding and executing on what you need to do on a daily basis to get to reach your point of success.
When starting a company, we often get so blindsided by the upside potential of being successful entrepreneurs that we can sometimes forget that the process can be a long-uphill battle. I highly recommend keeping tabs on your progress. Write down weekly goals and check of the milestones that you do reach. When you reach those points in your business that you feel like you are going nowhere, pull out your checklist and look at how many milestones you have hit. Remind yourself that you will continue to reach your future milestones, day by day, week by week, and month by month. Keeping your eye on the big prize is necessary, but don't lose sight of the day to day requirements you need to accomplish to get you there.
James Garvin began his education studying biotechnology. In recent years he has turned his interest in technology to helping two internet startup companies. The first business was an online personal financial network and the second was an e-marketing platform created to help entrepreneurs demo their web sites. Currently a student at University of California Davis, James is spending his summer incubating two new online businesses and writing about his entrepreneur experiences.
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