Thursday, January 10, 2008

Steering by the wake, not

This also involves two things: creating a business plan, and executing that business plan.

I’ll bet you would be surprised at the high percentage of would-be entrepreneurs, both online and in the real world, that skip part one and go straight to the execution part. This is good news for their competition.

I have put execution before the plan several times in my life, to my personal grief and financial loss. I remember one time when I was very young when I was working in a job that I absolutely hated. More than anything, I wanted to be independent. To me, that meant I wanted to be self-employed.

Without really thinking about what I wanted to do, much less how to do it, I went out and rented a building. Incredibly, that seemed logical to me. After all, no matter what business I chose to open, surely I would need a building. Talk about putting the cart before the horse!

So there I was with a building. It came with some fixtures and equipment left behind by the previous bankrupt owner. An ice cream shop. All I had to do was clean it up, buy some product, turn on the lights, unlock the door, and begin to count my money. Of course the next step was equally as logical: I quit my steady job right away. I had realized my dream. I was independent.

Are you laughing? Don’t. Just look around at all the unplanned blogs and other websites on the internet. The ones that look terrible, have nothing to say, and are monetized so ineptly. They have rented a building. They have dragged some undesirable basic “stock” into that building—stock that they may know nothing about. They have pasted a lot of signs in the front windows. Now they are sitting back and waiting for people to bring them money.

What could I have done differently? What important step did I leave out? Have all these new internet store owners already quit their day jobs? I hope not.

I think it was the great American sage Yogi Berra who once made the comment, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else.”

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