Small Business, BIG Vision: A Video Teaser

Think back to the moment you decided to go into business for yourself.  How did you feel?  Excited?  Nervous?  A little of both?  Did you have a creative outburst and pour your heart and soul into your business from the beginning?  As time goes by, and excitement makes way for routine, a vision plan will help you recapture the passion that got you started in the first place.

Clarify Your Vision

Create a clear image of exactly what you want to achieve.  This isn’t something esoteric.  Simply imagine a tangible target and write it down.  Your vision may be a financial goal, a personal acquisition, business expansion, or anything else your heart desires.  It’s about you and your loved ones.

Set Milestones

Contribute time and effort everyday to achieving your vision.  A large challenge is more easily digested when you chop it up into little bite size morsels.  Now that you’ve got something well defined to aim for, start taking the appropriate steps to reach your goal.  Think of your vision like the rocky peak of a sky-high mountain.  Would you try to climb to the top in one day?  One year?  Your milestones are your checkpoints as you scale your way to the summit.  After you’ve written down your milestones, your vision plan starts to come into focus.  What before had only form, has now taken on structure.

Vision Plan

Your vision plan is about personal inspiration, it’s not a business report.  Look to pictures or evensongs for inspiration.  Let your vision be pragmatic but also strive to feel your vision in the emotional centers of your brain.  A clear vision should tug at your core, driving you forward with resolve.  Harness that determination and fill in the gaps between the milestones you’ve set.  Chop up your plan into monthly mini-goals and then further into daily and weekly action items.  If you feel a part of your daily schedule is interfering with realizing your vision plan, cut it out.  Look for fresh ways to become more efficient in reaching your milestones.  Make a commitment to yourself and begin to effect changes in your daily life to make your vision a reality.

Use Your Vision Plan

Let your vision plan be your map in the territory of accomplishment and consult it everyday.  If you were a pirate hunting buried treasure, would you look at your map one time and then discard it, hoping for the best?  Don’t make the mistake of tossing your vision plan into a cluttered desk in your drawer and then neglecting it.


Roadblocks are inevitable on any road to success.  You’ll experience feelings of fatigue and disheartenment.  Keep in mind that anything worth doing doesn’t come easily.  Your vision plan should be your ally and your muse.  It should also be somewhat demanding.  If you’re not feeling motivated, consult your map and remember the commitment you made to yourself and your plan.  Don’t let your vision plan down.  After all, it’s a reflection of your dreams and ideals.

Making a personal vision plan is not just a fun way to systemize your thoughts.  It’s a powerful inspirational and organizational tool that pushes you face first toward success.  It reminds you of why you became an entrepreneur and keeps your passion burning like a never-ending candle.  Get started on your vision plan today and don’t look back.

‘Small Business, Big Vision’ [A Book Review]

Over the years I have read business books voraciously. And every now and then one comes along that I find particularly useful. That’s certainly the case with Small Business, Big Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs by Adam and Matthew Toren. So what is it that makes this book a powerful?

Advice from the Trenches

Many of you know me as a leadership resource and I’m sure you imagine that I sit in soft chairs all day and tell other people lofty ideas about themselves. Here’s the part you may not know: That leadership role is very recent. I came up the hard way and learned business in the trenches. From there, I expanded into the natural space of coaching which always seemed so familiar to me. So, when I look at a business book I want to know that the entire breadth of business acumen is nested in what I’m reading. I look to see an appreciation of both the ‘nuts and bolts’ of business as well as the personal development that I know is the driver of good outcomes.

More about Camels

I am sure you have all heard the saying “follow your bliss, but don’t forget to tether the camel.” For many years I toiled at the task of tethering camels. I was a merger/acquisition specialist as well as an executive manager of many companies. I learned my leadership style by working like a donkey. I must confess, and I’m sure this comes as no surprise, that I respect the basic hard work of building a company. When I read Small Business, Big Vision, my expectation was that it would be heavy on vision and light on the hard-core execution pieces necessary to get the job done.


Every now and then someone pays attention to the whole symphony of entrepreneurial music. I would be shortchanging my commentary on this book if I didn’t tell you that it delivers something even more. Adam and Matthew have actually figured out a way to not only cover the two major drivers of business, but to place them in today’s environment. Yes, they start with the necessity of a big vision. And they cover the development of a business plan, accumulating investors, hiring good employees, and even the need for social media. Certainly a book worth the read for just those pieces.

Social Responsibility?

But my excitement really rose when I came to the chapter about socially responsible entrepreneurs. For here they had put their finger on the new wave of business today. It has always been my opinion that leadership is being pulled into the space of personal development as a result of the demand of our newest generations. New, young leaders have looked at the old corporate paradigm and come to an astounding conclusion: The corporate wingspan is not wide enough and does not benefit a large enough portion of the community from which they come. These new leaders are courageous enough to stand and say “I will not work where I am not nourished,” and nourishment to this crew means thrusting your ego aside, forgetting who gets credit, and creating the gratitude of seeing a world much bigger than themselves benefited.

Awakening and Tethering

My job is to bring this kind of awareness to larger corporations that now see that they must provide personal leadership development in order to keep the best leaders. But I will never forget my roots and I am gratified to see that someone is taking care of the small business and entrepreneurial market. For the best way to have a great business is to start with great basics. Small Business, Big Vision gives a blueprint to the new generation of entrepreneurs that will allow them to hold a possibility much bigger than the normal book about business plans. My book Awakened Leadership describes the personal journey and its relationship to business building. In every generation the story of how to build a business must be told in both the language and the wingspan of that very group. Adam and Matthew have done a great job of giving us the current version of the entrepreneurial story. In my mind it is a wonderful companion to my leadership story.

If you’re curious to learn more about Adam and Matthew Toren, please visit their site

Small Business, BIG Vision Wins Gold – But Don’t Just Read It

My brother Matthew and I would like to thank all of you who helped make Small Business, BIG Vision the 2012 Gold Award Winning Small Business Book. We’re proud and honored to have won the award, and we appreciate all the support we have received from so many of our readers.

And from what we know, most find there’s more to the book than just reading it. Small Business, BIG Vision may be an interesting and valuable read cover-to-cover, but if that’s the only way you use this book, you’ve only gotten half of the benefit from it. With a combination of big-view insights, stories of success, and real-world everyday ideas to apply to your business, we think SBBV is a good read and also a good resource.

When you read a book from start to finish, much of its information gets lost in the process. There’s a communication concept that’s known as “Primacy/Recency.” This means that we tend to remember the first and last things we read much more than everything in the middle. To avoid losing that valuable insight, chop up your learning. This also works well for a non-reader. Here are some tactics we’ve used with our favorite business books. We hope some of these ideas help you to take full advantage of SBBV.

Copy and cut. As you read, are there concepts that strike you as valuable – possibly too valuable to just read past? Copy that page and cut out just the piece that drew your attention. Enlarge it and place in a file folder. As you continue through the book, copy and clip the concept highlights. Post one of these on a nearby bulletin board or on a wall by your desk. Change them out as they become too familiar. Over time, you will own those concepts.

Story power: SBBV is full of first-hand tales of successful entrepreneurs. Each had his or her own style, but every one of them found a path to success. How about reading one of those stories every Monday morning before you write your plans for the day or the week? As you read it, think about how that entrepreneur’s approach might apply to your business. Did he or she use tactics that might make your company stronger? Does this week’s entrepreneur have qualities that you would like to develop in yourself? Over the course of the week when faced with a decision ask yourself, how would this week’s entrepreneur handle this?

Tidbits: Every page of our book includes hands-on tips and suggestions to help your business run more effectively. Employee issues, contemporary marketing tools such as social media, and developing and writing a business plan are covered in straightforward and practical ways. When a topic is discussed that you know has come up or will come up as you build your business, make sure you can track down the source. Buy some of those page-market post-its, position them as appropriate in the book, and write a few keywords down on the flap. By the time you finish, you will have bookmarked every important area for easy reference.

Sharing: If you read something that you’d like everyone else in your organization to understand, tuck a brief quote in a memo, add it to a staff meeting agenda, or leave a copy of SBBV in the break room with a page marker and a note encouraging everyone to read it over coffee. Every member of an entrepreneurial organization will perform better if their understanding of the goals and challenges are improved.

Inspiration: Sometimes being an entrepreneur can seem overwhelming and discouraging. Grab some of the inspiring quotes and phrases we added to Small Business, BIG Vision and let them motivate you on those tough days.

We wrote this book with the hope that it would be read, paged through, used, and generally kept handy on every entrepreneur’s bookshelf. We hope you agree that reading it is just the start.

 “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France, Poet


Small Business BIG Vision Release DayA little over a year ago, publishers John J. Wiley & Sons approached us about the idea of writing a book for entrepreneurs. They knew that we had founded,, and a few other companies, and they had seen our writing contributions on our own sites, as well as Business Insider,, and others. Their idea was to have us create a book for entrepreneurs, possibly focusing on the Young Entrepreneur market. Beyond that, they wanted to hear our pitch for the specifics of the book we’d like to write.

We were excited and flattered at the prospect of writing a book for Wiley, and we set out to decide what our book would be about. As we discus in the Introduction of Small Business, BIG Vision, we had no interest in an autobiographical book, and neither us nor our publisher wanted to produce “just another business book.” We decided that it was important to us to create something that would appeal to all entrepreneurs and be a resource for helping small business owners and those interested in starting a business become successful.

Through countless interviews over the years for our various websites and conversations with hundreds (maybe even a thousand or more) entrepreneurs at every stage of business, we recognized that there were some common questions we continued to hear. Entrepreneurs wanted to know definitive answers to questions like, whether or not a business plan is really necessary; how to know when it’s time to hire employees; if it make sense to seek out investors, and how to do so; how to make social media marketing work for a small business; and how to turn a struggling small business around.

We created a book proposal and sent it to Wiley, and the rest, as they say, is history. For the last year, we’ve worked hard on writing the book, working with Wiley to edit it, design the cover, and put together a plan to market our creation. It’s been a lot of work, but lots of fun too. And now, today is the day! Small Business, BIG Vision is now available in stores and through online outlets, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

We’re confident that we have created a book that will help entrepreneurs from starting up through long-term success. Whether you’re just contemplating starting a small business or you’ve had your company for decades, there is something for you in Small Business, BIG Vision.

Throughout the process of writing and promoting the book, we’ve had amazing support from our loyal followers, colleagues in the entrepreneurial world, those who agreed to be profiled for each chapter, and many friends and family members, not to mention the great people at Wiley. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all, and wish you great success in all you do. If you get the book, stop back in and tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your feedback.

To your success!

Adam and Matthew


Are You Serious About Becoming an Entrepreneur?

Are You Serious About EntrepreneurshipChoosing whether to stay in what you may consider the comfort and safety of your current job or to venture out on your own can often be a very difficult decision to make. Before you hand your boss a letter of resignation, it’s important to determine whether you’re truly feeling an entrepreneurial impulse, or if you’re simply sick of the way things currently are and grasping for a change.

As we highlight in Small Business, BIG Vision, one of the amazing things about entrepreneurship is that you can create your own destiny. Not only that, but it’s quite an adrenaline rush to build something successful from the ground up. Starting up isn’t nearly as easy as is often depicted by the media, however. It isn’t usually a life filled with neato office studios, pinball machines, and late-night collaborations with an endless supply of pizza. Rather, it’s very long work days – and nights – often alone. You can also forget having relaxing work-free nights and weekends. Often times, business owners use these times to catch up on all of the work that they were unable to get to during the week.

Some Things to Consider Before Quitting Your Job

When venturing into entrepreneurship, many people find that if they don’t have a large savings, they need a credit card advance in order to pay for business expenses, and to cover living expenses too. You’ll also most likely be spending far less time with your family, and more time with business associates. And if you’re thinking of hiring people to join you in your venture, you’ve got to realize that the success of your business means not only being responsible for your own livelihood, but also the livelihood of anyone who joins your team. (This is one reason why, in the book, we advocate outsourcing as much as possible.)

Uncertainty is also a harsh reality of entrepreneurship. Then again, remaining with a large company where you aren’t building any equity is living the reality of uncertainty as well. Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, there are risks involved. What needs to be done is an assessment of exactly which set of risks you are willing to take.

The HUGE Up-Side to Entrepreneurship

You may be asking yourself why on earth anyone would venture into entrepreneurship after learning of all of these difficult aspects. Obviously, there are also some outstanding advantages to entrepreneurship too. If there weren’t, the numbers of entrepreneurs around the world would not be increasing at the fantastic rates they are.

The day-to-day life of an entrepreneur can be utterly exhausting at times, but as we discuss in Small Business, BIG Vision, if you’re truly passionate about your vision, it will become a labor of love and you’ll wind up enjoying yourself more than you’d ever imagined. Being an entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to build a company of your own, contribute to the world in a meaningful way, and truly fulfill your dreams. There really is nothing else like it, and once you get bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, there’s no turning back.

Sure, the path to entrepreneurship can be a bumpy one, but if you have the right reasons for starting your new business, and have realistic expectations, the road will be smoother, and you’ll find that it’s actually immensely enjoyable.

Regardless of where your entrepreneurial urge comes from, making the decision to follow that urge can be life-changing. When it comes down to being truly serious about venturing into entrepreneurship, the fundamental question to ask yourself is this: Are you willing to give it your absolute all, knowing that you may fail? And when you experience setbacks, do you have the resilience to get back up, dust yourself off, and try again? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then it really is time to go for it! There’s no guarantee of success, but one thing is certain – you will never be bored!

10 Keys for Preventing Startup Sabotage

Startup SabotageAs an entrepreneur, you’re bound to run into challenges and obstacles at every stage of your venture. It’s survival of the fittest, even in seasoned businesses, let alone a fledgling startup. You’ve seen the statistics that ominously warn of the failure rate within the first year of business, and while the stats don’t necessarily tell the whole story, there’s no doubt that making it through your first year is no cake walk. But there are some steps you can take to improve your odds. To prevent you from sabotaging your business, here are a few pointers to practice:


Ten Good Habits of Successful Business Owners

1. Provide a product or service that’s viable

When you come up with the initial idea for your business ask yourself, “Is there a need for this? Who is my target customer? Why will they want to buy or need this?” Many businesses sound like they could be wildly successful, but maybe only at first glance. Researching market need and product or service viability is an absolute must if you hope to succeed.

2. Seek advice

See your idea and business with a different set of eyes. Seek advice from successful people in diverse businesses – experts who can comprise your team and be your focus group. Do your homework, and take heed of their advice and startup stories. In Small Business, BIG Vision, we explain how and why to set up an Advisory Board. This is one of the best ways to ensure your business is being guided well from the start.

3. Find a balance for change

Sticking to your business plan is admirable, but when the world is changing around you at light speed, you better power-up for some changes. Seek a balance between making so many changes that you’re no longer stable and just keeping the status quo. We talk a lot about flexibility in the book, and this is the one quality that can serve your business well at any stage – and in any economic climate or market shift.

4. Use your budget wisely

This one is a balancing act too. You need to use your money to make your business grow. Have some money to market yourself, and make people aware of what you have to offer and where they can find you. But be sure you don’t just spend and run out of cash before you even get up and running. Lack of capital is the number one reason for early stage business failure. Don’t let your company become part of that statistical group.

5. Hire the best, and fire the rest

Finding the best people to staff your new business can take time. Responsible, intelligent, creative, and passionate people are out there and want to have meaningful work, especially in this job market. No business owner has to keep non-team players who ruin morale and don’t contribute on a daily basis. Of course also remember that employees aren’t always the answer. As we detail in Small Business, BIG Vision, outsourced workers can be a very valuable tool for early stage startups.

6. Use the right resources and tools

All the home remodelers on TV make it look so easy. That’s because they have the right tools. They’re not using a hand saw to do what a miter saw will do in seconds. The right tools can make any work easier, faster, and more accurate. They don’t have to cost a fortune and can even be second-hand. Subscribing to trade periodicals, newsletters, and buying guides can also make it easier for you and your staff to work smarter.

7. Price Properly

Ask for advice with actual customers or a focus group, to find out what your product or service is really worth to them. If your product is perceived to be priced too high, you have sabotaged your success. If priced too low, you’re loosing profit margin. Perceived value for the price paid is what sells – not necessarily a rock-bottom price. Don’t make the mistake of competing solely on price early on, or you could be stuck under-pricing your offerings forever.

8. Focus on customer experience

When the service you provide your customers fails to meet their expectations, you lose them. It doesn’t matter who was “right.” The old saying about an unhappy customer telling everyone about their experience is true – and very damaging to your reputation. The bottom line is that there’s plenty of competition in every sector, and there’s always a competitor willing to sell what you offer for less. Differentiating through outstanding service is the best way to build loyalty and secure your business for the long term.

9. Mind your own store

Some entrepreneurs seem to be obsessed with their competition, the market, or other factors outside their business. Knowing what your competitors are doing is important, especially to startups; however paranoia about them or other outside factors shouldn’t keep you from managing your own business. Focus on what you’re doing to make your business a success, and customers will gladly tell you about your competition. From there, it’s just a matter of managing your time in a way that prioritizes nurturing your own business over worrying about everything else.

10. Find “me time”

Non-entrepreneurs often think that because you have your own business you can take off whenever you want. NOT! Sometimes you eat, breathe, sleep (or not-sleep) every day at your work. It’s a commitment that can wreak havoc with life-work balance. Having a day off, or even a few hours, will not kill your business, especially if you have the right team of people working for you and you trust them. Working hard on a new business is a given, but burnout is your body saying “Out of Business.”

If you’re not doing all that’s listed above right now, remember – it’s never too late to put a good habit into practice. The most important thing in business is that you keep your focus on your BIG Vision and never give up!

10 Excellent Excuses – And How to Move Past Them

No ExcusesIn Small Business, BIG Vision, we talk a lot about, well, vision – of course. One thing that will get in the way of reaching your vision more than just about anything else is making excuses for not taking the actions necessary to reach your goals. There are times when saying, “No” is much easier than saying, “Yes.” And there’s no doubt that sometimes “No” is the most appropriate answer.

The trick is to know when you’re not doing something because it’s the right move, and when, in fact, you’re just making excuses. Not only do we sometimes make excuses to others, but often we can find we’re making excuses to ourselves.


Below are examples of 10 common excuses – and how to move past them:

1. I’m too busy: Using the excuse that you’re too busy won’t get you any sympathy from anyone, and it won’t get you what you really want. The fact is, we’re all busy. This isn’t something that’s exclusive to only you. Since everyone is busy, nobody’s really going to care how busy you are. The bottom line is that if something is important to us, we make time for it.

Sometimes, people feel that using the “I’m busy” excuse will get them off the hook for not taking necessary action. The truth is, you’re just hurting yourself if you put things off – for any reason. Instead of using the excuse that you’re too busy, ask yourself what you need to be able to do everything that’s most important to you. Maybe it’s just better time management, or maybe it’s foregoing your weekly golf game. It’s a matter of prioritizing what’s important, and managing the 24 hours you have each day.

2. I’m too tired: Just as with “I’m busy,” telling yourself or someone else that you’re too tired to get things done won’t get you very far. Let’s face it; we are all tired a lot of the time. Using the excuse that you’re too tired to get things accomplished is just that – an excuse. People who are determined to get things done will get them done regardless of whether they’re tired or not.

If you truly feel as though you’re too tired to do what’s needed to build your business, take a look at your diet, and the amount (and quality) of sleep you’re getting. Unless you have a medical condition, how you feel is in your hands. That’s what makes “I’m tired” an excuse. Take control of your own energy, and make sure you’re not to tired to make your dreams realities!

3. I don’t feel good: There will inevitably be times when you’re genuinely feeling too ill to get things done. Most people are sympathetic during times like these and will certainly cut you some slack, and it’s important to take care of yourself when you’re legitimately sick. The problem is that a lot of people use this excuse during times when they simply don’t feel like putting forth the effort required to get a project completed.

Again, how you feel is almost always within your control. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, and don’t let how you feel physically get in the way of accomplishing what you want in life.

4. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea: We often see entrepreneurs put off starting a business because they just don’t know if their idea will fly. Guess what – you won’t know. There is no surefire way to know without a doubt that any business is going to do well. There is one guarantee we can give you though: If you don’t even try, you definitely will not succeed.

If you’re not sure your idea is a good one, you need to do your due diligence. Research the market, competitors, costs, and the needs of your target audience. You still won’t come away with a guarantee, but all you need is to be confident you have what it takes to make your idea a reality. With confidence, many “bad” ideas have been wildly successful!

5. It’s not the right time: Timing can be important. If you’re just now entering the vinyl record manufacturing business, you’re going to have a rough go of it. But that’s not the kind of timing that most people use as an excuse. What we often see is that entrepreneurs are waiting for the perfect time in their life, schedule, or career to launch their venture. Unfortunately, many great ideas never come to light, because that perfect time never comes.

To move past this excuse, ask yourself how you can get started right now. Maybe starting now – when everything isn’t in perfect alignment – will mean it will take longer to get your business off the ground. That’s okay. If you wait for the perfect time, it may never happen!

6. I don’t know how to start: A lot of people have amazing ideas that are in no way related to their past experience or expertise. In many of these cases, they assume they won’t be able to be successful, because they don’t know how to get started. In reality, this is just an excuse. There is almost nothing that can’t be learned by someone of reasonable intelligence in a fairly short amount of time. The Internet has all the information you could ever want on almost any subject you can think of. It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough to do what it takes to learn what you need to know. If you don’t know how to start, figure it out. Get help if you need to. Start networking with people who know more than you about the topic. The options are limitless – as long as you really want to get started.

7. I’m scared: How many great ideas never leave would-be entrepreneurs’ heads because they’re afraid of failure, criticism, or the unknown? Probably millions. What many people don’t realize is that the entrepreneurs who have become successful didn’t do so feeling no fear. They had the same fears and concerns but took action anyway. And that makes all the difference!

8. It’s not what I’m used to: We all have a comfort zone, and breaking out of it can feel like quite a daunting task. The reason you feel so comfortable in this zone is because you know exactly what to expect. In many ways, this goes back to #7. Allowing yourself to go out on a limb can feel terrifying because of a fear of failure. You fear that you may lose something, but the reality is that you have so much to gain.

The trick is in becoming comfortable with the feeling of uncertainty and using it to your advantage. Rather than looking at a new venture as overwhelming and frightening, choose to look at it as a new and refreshing journey. You stand to gain so much more when you allow yourself to lower your walls of fear.

9. I’m too young or too old: When talking about business, age simply doesn’t have to be a factor. These days, younger and younger people are finding success in the business world. And nobody is ever too old to chase their dreams of business success. While you may feel that younger generations have an upper hand, this is not necessarily true. With age comes wisdom.

Rather than using your age as an excuse, why not use it to your advantage? After all, there are considerable advantages to both young and seasoned entrepreneurs. And in the end, success has very little to do with age, and much more to do with passion and perseverance.

10. It’s impossible: When faced with an extremely difficult task, it’s natural to want to give up and consider the task to be impossible. However, the word “impossible” is not part of the vocabulary of true entrepreneurs. Yes, this may mean having to fail a few times before becoming successful, but even when we fail, we learn valuable lessons. So if something seems impossible, think of it instead as a challenge. If any person has ever done it, you can do it too. If not, you can be the first!

Recognizing excuses for what they are is the first step in leaving them behind. Beyond that, it’s all up to you. You can either accept the excuses you’re giving yourself and others, or you can work to move past them. Which path do you think leads to your BIG Vision?

3 Big Rules of Effective Planning with Teams

Team PlanningWhether we’re talking about a comprehensive formal business plan, a one-page-business plan, or an on-the-fly plan for a particular project, one thing is for sure: some form of planning is absolutely necessary for reaching your BIG Vision. As we discuss in Small Business, BIG Vision, there is a danger of falling into “planning paralysis” if planning is taken to the extreme. But that doesn’t mean planning isn’t a good idea – just that you need to do it the right way.

This is especially true when members of a team get together to create a plan. Below are three important rules for effective planning with a team of employees or partners. Read through them, and share your thoughts in the comments section. What would you add to the list?

1. Choose the Right People to Assist in the Planning Process

When building a planning team, it’s important to choose committed people who can offer valuable insight and ideas regarding business growth. What’s not important is that the members of your planning team have roles of leadership within your company. To make someone a member of your planning team simply because of their position within the company is a mistake. An effective planning team can consist not only of supervisors, but also sales people and other staff members within your team. Including people from a variety of roles helps solidify your team, and it’s a great way to identify unrecognized talent.

The most important consideration is that your planning team consists of people who truly want what’s best for the company and are willing to work to achieve the overall goal of the planning process. Another important consideration when choosing members of your planning team is to choose people who, regardless of their role in your company, have the ability to keep information shared in planning sessions completely confidential and are eager to participate and contribute to the process.

2. Look at the Long Term Future of the Business

Start by looking at the big picture of success for the future of your company. Once you have a clear vision of the big picture, begin to narrow your focus a bit. Start with the present and first address problems that require immediate attention. Come up with an effective plan that will best solve any issues and allow you to implement the finished plan immediately. Once you’ve addressed any immediate issues, it’s time to develop a realistic vision of where you want the company to be in one year, five years, and ten years. By doing so, you’ll have created a goal that all of the members of your team can strive together to achieve.

Here are some questions that will help you to nail down the long term vision for your company:

  • If you could travel ten years into the future, what would the world look like?
  • Are there any trends that might affect the growth of your company – for better or worse?
  • What are some of the issues that businesses in your industry are likely to face?

Of course you can’t really see into the future, but it is possible to create a realistic vision of the future for your business. Once you do that, the members of your planning team will have a much better understanding of what their individual roles are in the long term vision of the company.

3. Face the Facts

Be 100% honest with yourself and your crew when you examine any issues that are in the way of your company achieving its goals. By denying or sugar-coating problems, you’re not only being dishonest with yourself, but dishonest with your entire team as well. Deal with these issues in a well thought-out and calm way.

Include your team of employees in the process of coming up with solutions to the challenges within the company. Doing so will not only help you find different ways of looking at the issues, but your staff will feel included and significant. Including your employees in these types of decisions helps to build morale and encourage cohesiveness within the team. When people feel as though their opinions are valued, they’re far more likely to strive to achieve common goals of the business.

Business planning can actually be a fun process – especially when you bring together a team of creative, committed professionals. So don’t dread creating plans. Know that the work you do to put the right plan in place now will pay off many fold in the end.

Answers to 5 Common Entrepreneurial Questions

Entrepreneurial QuestionsWhen trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, you will have an endless number of questions. Whether it’s your first shot at being in business for yourself or you’ve done it before, some questions are sure to continue popping up. Below are some of the most common questions with some ideas about how to answer them. This article won’t answer all your questions, but it will get you off to a great start!


How will I know if my business idea is a good one?

Speaking with potential customers before you go forward with building on your start-up is important. By speaking with these people, you will either have your assumptions validated, or you’ll learn that they were all wrong. Either way, you’re gaining some valuable insight. Although it can be difficult to hear criticism at times, learning from criticism can save you a whole lot of time and heartache. Certainly don’t fool yourself by assuming that the source of the criticism is crazy and you’re doing everything correctly. Be realistic and face the truth gracefully.


How do I fund for my start-up?

As we outline in Small Business, BIG Vision, if at all possible, you don’t. Bootstrapping is always our preferred startup method. One good idea is to start out by doing some consulting services for customers, which tends to have almost no overhead. By doing this, you’re not only supporting yourself, but you’re also remaining in contact with the customers and are learning which problems they have. Then you can develop a product or service based on a clear understanding of what your customers’ wants and needs are, rather than on your assumptions.


In the next five years, which industries have the biggest growth potential?

Look around. What big problems do you see? By looking for problems, you’re also looking into the biggest opportunities. Poverty, homelessness, energy crisis, water crisis, etc. All of these are huge problems. You could address some of these problems with your new company. Another place to look for problems is within big companies. In every industry, there are giants, and it’s inevitable that within these giants of industry, there are places where they are weak. You can look for these holes and create an expertise related to them. For example, although Google is obviously the largest search provider, it’s not the only one, because others have seen where they are lacking and created companies around the needs that are not being met by Google.


How can I possibly overcome my fear of failure?

In the book, we focus on the importance of having a clear vision. Your vision helps overcome fear because it allows you to picture your business as successful and focus on that picture. You also need to find some sort of philosophy to draw inspiration from. Whether you get your inspiration from a book like Small Business, BIG Vision or Aristotle, the important point is that you’re gaining inspiration. It’s becoming increasingly popular for entrepreneurs to use other business leaders as their sources of inspiration. Look around – there’s something out there for you.


Where can I find mentors?

Take a close look at the people who you’re surrounded by every day. Who has your respect and truly believes in you? Do they respect your work? Someone like this has a terrific potential for becoming a good mentor for you. This type of relationship is a very personal one, so it’s important that you have good chemistry with one another, and not only common business interests and goals. You can expect to invest a lot of time and emotional energy with your mentor. If you can find someone who will allow you to do a little bit of work for them, it can provide a setting in which they can coach you. In a sense, you are working for each other in this way.

So, what about all the other questions you have? Take the time to seek out people who will not only answer your questions, but also provide you with examples of their own experiences. The more knowledge you can gain ahead of time, the more successful you will be. Some of our BIG Vision Offers include time with both of us, and we’d love to work with you to answer your questions and get you on the road to successful entrepreneurship!