Preparing your small business for next stageThis past Monday, I went with my daughter to cheer on her teacher who was running the Boston Marathon. Every year, I am in awe of the thousands of people who run the 26.2 miles that snakes its way from Hopkinton to Boston. This year, it seemed more personal because I know one of the runners. It was a hot day and the Boston Athletic Association warned runners that the heat could be potentially dangerous.

Preparation is crucial

Even without the unusually high heat, preparing for a marathon is something that people think out and practice running often each week. Their diets and how they hydrate become key pieces of the plan.Their bodies and personality would combine to make it possible to finish or not finish this long race. They make a plan and follow it.

This became apparent as I was watching the marathoners pass by. Some were walking. Some were running very slowly and looked like they were in pain. Others were running by like it was nothing. As I reflected on all of this, it reminded me how running a small to mid-size enterprise (SME)  is analogous to running marathons.

“Failure to plan is planning to fail”

This quote is often attributed to Alan Lakein and may be a cliche at this point. However, that doesn’t diminish its truth. Consider this for a moment…do you have a written business plan? It’s astonishing how many business owners who have been in business for 5+ years will tell me they don’t. Sure, your instincts can be excellent and you can create a successful business. That’s all fine and dandy until you reach the point when you are ready to expand your markets, go after a more sophisticated customer or hire new employees.

Are you hitting the wall now?

For marathoners, the wall is the moment when they have used up the glycogen in their system and it feels as if they can’t run another step. For small business owners, it’s the time when the business is ready to go to a more sophisticated level and there are increased feelings of stress, overwhelm and a lack of focus.

How are you preparing for the long run?

It always starts with writing down your plan. Involve your team or your top staff members. Their input may remove some of what may seem so daunting about the plan.

Here are  some questions to get you started:

1. What do you imagine happening between now and the end of the year?  What is your intent?

2. What is your specific revenue goal?

3. Who is your target customer and why?

4. What are your goals for the next 3 months (specific, measurable, time-specific)?

5. Who is your accountability partner? Are you talking with a mentor, trusted peer, mastermind group, advisory board or executive/business coach?

This is just the beginning of your long run. How do you want to prepare for your business to go all the way?

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about a new business opportunity to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.