“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Okay, it’s time for a bit of honesty. In the last nine years that my company, TheAIDG has been in existence, I have never even considered the possibility of writing a Business Plan – and I probably never will. Does this mean that I am anti-Business Plan for others? No, but for me and my company, we’re going to do it this way. I understand that there are many of you who have already taken out 7 months of your life to write and revise an extensive business plan that charts out every single move that your company will make from now until 2020, and that’s fine (for you). I think that entrepreneurship is like spirituality – it’s a personal relationship. And I am only preaching from my experiences, which takes nothing away from yours. For me, Business Plans are far too restricting and limit the flexibility required to make decisions on the fly that can’t be planned for. In those times, I would prefer the maneuverability that comes from trusting my gut in the moment, over attempting to stick to a 20 page business plan that I wrote nine years ago.
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”
-Winston Churchill (or Benjamin Franklin depending on who you ask.)
What I don’t want you to take away from this post is a feeling that my company has been free falling or walking around blindly for almost ten years - because that would be far from the truth. I could probably blame this all on my Piscean nature… the free spirited part of me that goes with the flow of the waters I’m swimming in (but isn’t afraid to swim against the currents if it’s in my best interest) - and keeping my company afloat is definitely in my best interest.
Over the past decade, my company has made several pivots, adjustments, turns and quite a few dramatic changes. In 2003, TheAIDG started out as a photography company (with an entirely different name), then added print design in 2006, and expanded to web design in 2008 – I won’t tell you what’s next, but trust me, there is something else coming. Behind every strategic move, there has been a vision. Has every move been in the right direction? No. There have been things that I have done completely wrong – but more importantly, there have been things that I have done completely right, and it’s the balance of these experiences that gives me the perspectives that I share with you here. Through it all, there has been consistent perpetual movement; constant momentum – sometimes a sprint, sometimes a brisk walk, sometimes a stroll… but always movement. Standing water spoils.
“Write the vision, and make it plain.”
Though I have never had a Business Plan per se, I won’t lead you to believe that I don’t have a plan for my business. Though informal, I do tend to jot down ideas of where I want my business to go, and how I’d like to see it grow in the coming weeks, months and years. Sometimes we need to see the vision on paper to really see the vision. I see things way before they happen. I have a vision of what our next phase of business cards will look like in the coming months. I have a vision of how I want our website to look next year. I have a vision of what our offices will look like when I do my interview for the cover of FastCompany. I see it all.
Whether you decide to write down your Business Plan as a formal document, jot notes on napkins, or keep all of your ideas in your head - it won’t matter if you don’t take action to see these plans through. I am a visionary, and that has helped me get to where I am so far in business and in life. Even when the unseen obstacles cause me to make detours, my vision will get me to where I’m going. With my eyes wide open to take it all in… I will see it through.
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