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Start as you mean to continue

Certain self-improvement circles like to use the phrase “fake it till you make it”. The idea behind this is that by pretending to be the person we want to be, we will eventually become that person. This same premise can be applied to just about any endeavour. For example, in small business planning we begin as if we are already fully operational, even if all we have are a few ideas on a sheet of paper. This starting point allows us to view our goals not as far away dreams or wishful thinking, but as part of the essential daily operations of our business. We are essentially starting as we mean to continue.

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This is part of the process of seeing tomorrow as today. An article appearing in the 1858 Methodist Quarterly Review observed that the art of the sculptor lies in "finding the perfect form and features of a goddess, in the shapeless block of marble; and his ability to chip off all extraneous matter...". Likewise, as we imagine our fully operational endeavour, we see it within the shapeless mass of our projected future and must chip away those things in our present lives that are not part of that future reality. This means cleaning house and clearing away the accumulated junk so that the future we imagine can manifest.

The power of perspective cannot be over-exaggerated. When cleaning house we will find things we labelled as successes and others as failures. Successes can bolster confidence, but can also lead to disastrous over-confidence. Those things we call failures can either make us wary of moving forward or be honoured as necessary learning experiences. Ultimately, we decide their meaning and what we take forward with us.

Another important aspect of small business planning is preparing for every eventuality. The problem is that as we look ahead to the realisation of our goals, we do not know what we do not know. It is difficult to plan for eventualities that we may never have known existed. This is where another apt cliché comes to our aid. “It is not what you know but who you know.”

Part of planning for eventualities is planning for our own ignorance. Organisations such as the FSB can prove to be a valuable resource in this regard by providing guidance and support today so that we can better plan for tomorrow. You may be tempted to rely upon the experience of friends and family. Though well-intentioned, they also have their own lives and may not have the time to be there when you need them. Also, their resources are limited.

Setting goals for the future can be both exhilarating and daunting. When moving into the future it is easy to get enthusiastic during the planning but lose interest in the execution. The other extreme is subjecting ourselves to needless worry as we imagine things going wrong and never begin. This is why cultivating the right mind-set is important. Set your goals starting as if you have already arrived. Eliminate those things in your life that do not support your goals. Finally, as you plan for every eventuality, it is important to have the support you need. These are the habits for success.

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