Real Leaders

Before You Begin, Start With the End in Mind

With any initiative or venture, getting started can present challenges from financial planning and hiring decisions to industry preferences and market strategies.

While the process of creating, operating, and scaling a business is both challenging and rewarding, you should be sure that your intentions are clear from the very beginning.

The adage of “start with the end in mind” is a relatively ancient one, with notable figures like the Stoic philosopher Seneca and Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, both referencing the concept in their works. Clarifying your end goals and true intentions before you begin a project, especially one as involved and demanding as starting a business, can give you guidance, direction, and insight that you might otherwise lack.

By planning ahead, taking steps to make your goals a reality, and keeping a firm grasp on the end you desire, you can make your business venture more effective and successful. I dive deeper into these principles below so you can understand how to make them work for you and your career goals. 

Working with Clarity, Efficiency, and Purpose

By establishing clear end goals before diving into a new venture, you can improve how you execute essential preparations, functions, and strategies. When you start a business knowing what you ultimately want to accomplish, you will be able to make decisions that are better tailored to helping you achieve your goals without as much deliberation or confusion.

Clarity is key for any entrepreneur. By establishing end goals and priorities, you can give more attention to essential tasks and productive pursuits, resulting in higher rates of efficiency and optimization. Setting specific intentions and goals for your business venture can eliminate wasted time and give you a sense of purpose, especially if your business goals align well with your personal ideals. Striving to achieve meaningful goals can make the labor required to start and manage a new business more appealing and satisfying.

The practice of starting with the end in mind is productive and fulfilling, and aspiring entrepreneurs should prioritize this mindset to encourage greater clarity, efficiency, and purpose in their work.

Answer the Big Questions

Before you start a business, you should ask yourself some big concept questions to better understand what you really want to achieve and how you want to accomplish your goals. These questions might include:

• What are you good at? Think about your skills, qualities, and characteristics.

• What problems can you help to solve? Be as specific and niche as possible.

• As you work to solve a problem, what will be your real differentiator? And is this part of your natural skill set? 

• What do you need to learn to assist? Or how can you help develop a team that can assist as well?

Questions like these are not always straightforward to answer. You may not have a concrete answer right away, but addressing the big, long-term questions can give you a more actionable idea of how you want to build and run your business, not only at the very beginning but throughout its existence, as well.

Explore Your Exit Options

Deciding on an exit strategy before making other strides toward starting your business may feel unproductive, but knowing your options and preferences can help you make informed, strategic decisions.

The number of exit options available to businesses is relatively plentiful, but entrepreneurs must understand that not all exit options are equally beneficial to all businesses. Assessing exit options by comparing the anticipated complexity and effort of the transaction(s) with the potential value or price of the sale will be effective in helping you determine which options may best suit your business idea and goals.

These options may range from giving control of your business to family or friends (a low-profit and low-effort transaction) to creating an initial public offering or IPO (a potentially high-value and high-effort course). Depending on your desired level of involvement, business experience, legacy aspirations, and more, you may determine that some exit options are unappealing or ill-fitting for your venture.

You do not necessarily need to settle on a single exit option before getting started, but it is essential to consider the options available so that you can plan ahead.

Construct a Solid Business Plan

Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve and how you expect your business to progress, you should construct a business plan that accounts for these goals. When composing this document, you should identify your financial needs in addition to what you hope your business will look like, offer, and accomplish. This document will serve as a formal guide for your business and any potential partners and investors you might attract later.

Suppose you find that you do not fully understand aspects of the business or you cannot accommodate alone. In that case, you can devote time and energy to acquiring the necessary information, resources, and connections. Creating a solid, comprehensive business plan ahead of time can guide you toward productive and proactive business decisions to help you accomplish your goals in effective, efficient ways.

Account for Flexibility and Change

Even after crafting a thorough business plan, remember that you will likely make changes in the future, especially if you have plans to be involved with this business for a long time. Knowing what you want to ultimately accomplish with your business is important, but you should also acknowledge that external factors — such as market conditions, technological standards, and customer needs — may change over time. Additionally, your priorities and interests may shift, resulting in the need for reevaluation.

Before starting a new venture, you should still prioritize assessing your business goals to help guide you, even if those goals may change. Having direction early on can position you and your business for success regardless of shifting priorities and aspirations.

Entrepreneurs looking to start a new business should take care to identify their needs and goals before beginning the process. Doing so will grant you more clarity, efficiency, productivity, and fulfillment as you endeavor to establish and manage your new business. Before you get started with any project, envision how you want it to end, and you may find that the process of creating, operating, and growing your business is more effective and successful.

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