This article talks to both the entrepreneurs with long-term focus who can clearly see the big picture, and those who have difficulty visualising that, and prefer to focus on the detailed steps in the shorter-term.

My aim is to help you find that big picture, keep it in mind and identify the steps you need to take to get you closer to it.

We’re talking long term goals, breaking them down towards a line in the sand for 12 months’ time which is a point of time that keeps you on that trajectory to the vision.

The big picture – your reason why

It can be really difficult for people who are detail focused to see the big picture. Often, they are servile in nature and content to work on daily tasks of short-term projects, feeling appreciated and needed by the people they’re working for, whether that is clients or employers. When I ask someone like that what their reason for running their own business is, it’s often a reaction to a situation – They felt more in control of their workload as their own boss, they were made redundant, or weren’t reinstated after furlough…

But the big picture isn’t that hard to see, really.

The ultimate goal for most entrepreneurs is to retire with an income or healthy pension that allows them to spend their later years in comfort and happiness.

Goals to set before retirement get a little more complex.

So, I invite you to take a moment now to think about what your big picture and purpose looks like, is it the holiday of a lifetime, is it to sell a business and start again, it could be to buy a larger home or set up a loved one in their own home, own that beautiful car/motorbike/caravan or is it to work a three day week so you can play more golf, take more spa days or learn an instrument or new language..? Let me put this on record – they are all worthy goals!

These are your desirable outcomes. Running your business in the interim is your well-considered activity that takes you towards that desire.

Your 12-month line in the sand

It would be impossible for me to ask you to do everything now, that will get you to that goal, so we need to bring the big picture closer by breaking it down into smaller pieces, like a jigsaw. You can’t tip a 5,000 piece puzzle out and expect it to be even partially complete, so we’ll look at the composite parts you need to bring together. I call those parts high pay-off activities and 90-day plans.

So, where does your business need to be this time next year to stay on the trajectory toward the big picture? I can’t answer that for you I’m afraid, but I can help you figure it out by using my experience with other entrepreneurs and my own business knowledge. A lot of it depends on how long we have overall, and how risk averse you might be, how many people are in your team and what collateral you have.

Tip: Keep your big picture somewhere you can see it, share it with the people who influence your day-to-day activities and talk about it in your network. The more you focus on it in this way, the more real it feels, and less of a dream. Keep it in your subconscious. Keep accountable to the execution of those activities.

Breaking the year down into even smaller steps

We’re talking 90-day plans now!

I ask my clients, ‘what happens just before you achieve that goal? And what happens just before that, and before that…?’

This way we can break down the year into 90-day chunks, consisting of a concise set of high pay-off activities, high-level bullet points and actionable plans.

Is spending 90 minutes a day on LinkedIn the best use of your time, or would it pay you more to be writing and designing leaflets? Do you need to spend time with your staff, training them in an area so you can delegate to them more effectively, or could you be on the phone with potential customers or referral partners?

Within this 90-day plan we need progression measures, or key performance indicators to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction. They might be; numbers of new connections, training x number of staff within x number of weeks to do x number of tasks, or anything else that clearly shows successes in number form.

From these 90 day plans you can take your priorities for the next 30 days, next week, tomorrow.

Meeting in the middle

You are currently considering the gap between now and where you want to be, so I hope this article has gone some way to helping you see both the big picture and the smaller steps that lead to it. One tool that helps with breaking down the big picture into smaller steps is the one-page business plan If you would like support in completing this for your business, or if 90-day plans are new to you and you’d like to learn more, get in touch for an hour of free business mentoring, I’d be honoured to help you on your way to the business you deserve.

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