Spring means hitting the backcountry on horseback for me. A few years ago in the Spring a very good friend of mine and I headed out for an all day ride to make sure the trails were clear for others and to get the horses in shape for summer. The trails were in great shape, not much snow left. The heat wave had melted most of the snow in a matter of days. The fast snow meltdown this particular Spring also increased the flow of water down the streams and rivers we typically cross.
After making our plan on how and where to cross a treacherous area of one river we nudged our horses to step into the raging waters. My horse was bigger and stronger than my friends so he went first. Things were going great until his horse was halfway across the river. Now, surrounded by rushing waters on all sides and struggling to stay on his feet, the horse turned and looked down stream. Having lost sight of the landing point on the other side of the river, the horse and my friend started stumbling and the river began to sweep them away. My friend immediately lifted the horse’s head and turned it to the destination. Now, with a new focus on the landing point, the horse was able to recover and they made it safely to the other side of the river.
Before you start a new business or direction within your company, make a plan. Think through it carefully. Visualize the final outcome of this new venture. Plan for the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario. Be clear. Be exact. Write down every detail. Remember, the plan is for you. It doesn’t have to be nicely formatted and printed on expensive paper. It just has to be specific.
In your plan, answer for yourself three questions.
What is the mission of this new product, service, or company? Think of the mission as the purpose. Are you trying to change the way the world performs a certain task? Are you offering the world a less expensive or more efficient way to perform a task? Are you providing a service that proves to be more cost effective or thorough than someone trying to do this themselves? When you can answer one of these questions in a sentence or two you have written your mission statement. Yes, write it down. Immediately below it, write your vision.
Your vision is nothing more than a statement of where you are going. Perhaps you are inventing a new, environmentally friendly mousetrap —your mission. Your vision could be to market and sell a portfolio of environmentally friendly rodent control products worldwide. Think big. This is not the time to worry about how you get there, but rather where you want to be. Write it down just below your Mission Statement. It should only be a sentence or two. Below your Vision Statement write your Goals.
You have to be able to measure your progress so your goals must be specific, quantifiable, and achievable. For example, you may want everyone in the world to know about your new product. This goal would be too broad, difficult to quantify, and may not be achievable. However, you may set specific goals to write a press release and submit it to two online press services and call 20 editors who cover your products and services with a goal to schedule two interviews. Write down detailed lists of what you will do. After having accomplished every item on your list, collectively, they will accomplish your Mission and be a steppingstone towards your Vision.
Now that you have a clear Mission, Vision, and list of Goals, get going. As you work through the day-to-day tasks checking off each goal as you complete it, keep focused on your Goals and Mission. Each time you complete a task you are one step closer to your destination. Don’t get side tracked by something that looks fun and could easily be justified, but does not get you closer to achieving your goals and ultimately accomplishing your mission. Read your Mission, Vision, and Goals before you start each day. Read them as the last thing you do each day. Do not get disoriented by the rushing waters all around you and do not look downstream. Keep your head focused on the destination or you will be swept down the river.
Dano Ybarra is a leader, global executive, corporate warrior, serial entrepreneur, husband, father, and Internet pioneer. To learn more about Dano please visit www.danoybarra.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information visit my Beyond.com profile.