Be a Visionary
March 14, 2017
Many business owners fail to think long term and end up closing their doors. As a business consultant, I’ve talked to many successful business owners and they all tell me that one of the reasons why they are successful is because they were visionaries and were always thinking ahead.
It sounds exhausting to always be planning and thinking about what’s going to happen, but successful business owners live and breathe by this practice. They have to analyze how the market and their business are doing and where they will be in a year, five years, or even ten years.
The same principle applies to our own personal situation. I teach accounting and finance classes at the community college level and one of the first things I ask my students on our first class is about their future plans. I simply ask: where do you see yourself in a few years or after you graduate? It’s funny because many look at me like as if I was speaking a foreign language.
Many say they’re going to get a job and get rich quick, others say they’re going to graduate school, and others just don’t have a clue.
But when I ask specifically how they’re going to be rich, they just don’t know how. We do a little exercise in class that can also be applied to the business world. We see the future and then we start working backwards.
Working backwards just means you need to have a set a goal, personal or business, and then work the scenario backwards. When I do this exercise in class we start discussing professions that in general earn a lot of money such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. If somebody wants to become a lawyer, then we discuss the requirements of being a lawyer such as passing the bar exam, going to law school, obtaining a college degree, among others.
The same applies to businesses. In business, you should always be asking yourself where you’ll be in the next year, five years or even ten years from now. If the goal is to become a multi-million dollar company then let’s look at the possible scenarios. If you are in construction, a multi-million dollar company means having multi-million dollar contracts. These contracts don’t come by easily.
To have access to multi-million dollar contracts you sometimes need specific certifications with different public agencies such as the City of San Diego, School Districts, the Port of San Diego, the State of California, or The Small Business Administration and be able to bid on these contracts. To get certified, you need certain licenses, like a contractor’s license, and there are certain classes and paperwork that you need to complete before you are even taken into consideration. So the natural start would be to get a contractor’s license first and for that there are requirements to obtain this license.
Once you get on a procurement list they’ll look at your background and jobs you’ve done in the past. So experience is a must which means you’d have to grow slowly until you start getting larger contracts.
Capital is also a recurring issue. Many contracts demand a lot of money in the bank and bonding which means you need to have assets and a decent credit for a bonding company to work with you.
It seems like a lot of work but nobody said success was easy. And believe it or not, many successful business owners start with baby steps. Every year they get better and build their client base if they’re doing things right. They do not build multi-million dollar companies overnight.
So it is very important to really think ahead, work backwards and ask yourself “what do I have to do to get there?” Business owners should be asking themselves this regularly. I once read a book that asked “how do you spend your free time?” Successful people spend it towards planning their future, not playing video games.