The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, September 18, 2006

Finding Your Way through the Maze





As business owners we are constantly bombarded with “opportunities”. Everyone is promising something that is going to transform our business. But, by the time we have evaluated at all the opportunities, we seem to be back where we started from. And we have spent all that time and energy going around in circles in a maze.

In fact, for many owners, it is just like a maze. But here is a tip to help you get out of the maze. Can you remember when you were a kid, and you were given mazes to solve. Some were pretty easy. You could solve them without putting pen to paper. But others were so complex, that it didn’t matter where you started, or which turn you took, you always found yourself in a dead end.

And if you got really frustrated, just before you gave up, you tried starting at the end of the maze, and worked backwards. And in most cases, you were able to find your way to the beginning. The reason why this worked is that mazes are designed to stop you reaching the goal, and so offer you lots of promising opportunities or paths that lead nowhere. But when you start from the goal, you skip the dead ends.

Now as kids, we were discouraged from doing this because it was cheating. Like looking up the answer in the back of the book. But in business, as long as it is legal and ethical, its ok. So this is why it’s so important to start at your goal and work backwards to today. When you do that, all of a sudden, you recognise that most of the opportunities are actually dead ends.

When you have a long term goal, you can better see what you should be doing today to achieve your goals. And just as importantly, you can see what you should not be doing.

So, create a vision of what you want your business to look like in the future. Then put some detail on the vision. Ask yourself some questions like:

· What products and services will I be providing?
· Who will I be providing them to?
· How will I provide these services?
· What are the numerical targets behind these answers?
· When will I achieve them?

When you have answered these questions, you have described the end-point in the maze, and so now, you are over half the way to finding your way out.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is a Business Coach and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems.

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