Every business owner in this country wants to grow their company into an efficient, self-sustaining, and highly profitable business.  The harsh truth is that most business owners don’t even come close.  And while there are a variety of factors that separate elite companies from the rest, the biggest difference between world-class and mediocre businesses is simple.  Successful business owners don’t just hope for success… they plan for it. In great detail.

Chinese military strategist Sun-Tzu wrote that “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” It’s true in war, and it’s true in business. When I work with business owners, I can predict their success with a high degree of accuracy based on how proactively they plan for success. Below are three specific ideas to consider:

  1. Set specific goals.  What do you hope to get out of your business?  How much revenue do you want to generate each year?  How much net income are you hoping for?  How much time do you want to spend at work?  Once you have created this list, you have identified your “destination.”  From there, it’s a matter of figuring out your path to this destination—yet, most business owners never complete this important step.

  2. Identify the positions you will need to fill in order to meet your goals.  Right now, you may only have three employees.  Or you may be a one-man operation.  In any case, in order to meet your long-term goals, you will need to grow your team.  Most business owners wait until they are overwhelmed before seeking additional help—at which time they often grab the first suitable candidate that walks in the door.  This approach to hiring leads to inefficiency and often disaster.  Right now, before you need to hire more help, create a hiring plan.  What positions will you need filled?  Take the time to visualize your operation as it grows—who will you need to hire?  And in what order?

  3. Commit to evaluating your progress on a weekly basis.  The two steps above are a great start.  You’ve identified your goals.  You’ve begun to create a plan for accomplishing them.  But if you walk away from your plan and don’t think about it again for months, you’ve wasted your time.  It’s not enough to have a plan.  You need to commit to executing your plan on a regular basis.  That means time, each day or at least each week, in which you review your progress and adjust your plan as needed.  If you aren’t willing to commit the time, you aren’t going to accomplish your goals.

Without a plan, you’re flying blind. Maybe you’ll get lucky—but the odds (and my years of real-world experience) say you won’t. Don’t just hope for success… plan for it!