We Burn a Lot of Fuel On Takeoff

Business owners are always wondering how the next guy seems to get things off the ground so well and why they themselves are always struggling to just keep what they have afloat. It’s because we don’t understand momentum.

Ideas don’t happen because we thought them up, and they aren’t sustained because we kick started them. I have a lot of business owners right now saying to me, “Doesn’t if feel great to have your book totally done and out there?” (see my book). Some of them know it’s only the start, but a lot of them are saying this to mean, “Won’t it be fun to sit back and watch the sales roll in?”.

Birthing a book, a project, a new product, a business, hiring an employee or any other new initiative is a lot like having a baby. If you brought a newborn home would you show it the house, lay it beside the refrigerator and say “Well, you’ve gotten the tour and there’s the fridge. We’ll be playing golf if you have any questions!”

Too often we start new things to solve a problem, but end up creating one because we pull out of the process way too soon.

A jet on a 3,000 mile transatlantic flight burns at least 50% of it’s fuel just getting to cruise altitude in the first few miles. The next nearly 3,000 miles takes only half as much effort. Everything in business is a lot like this.

“Finishing” a book, hiring an employee, training on a procedure, bringing on a new client, or rolling out a new product all require outside help because initially these have no momentum of their own. The inertia is overwhelming and the only way to overcome it is to push hard yourself. When you do this, you feel like the airplane at the beginning of the runway – a lot of fussing and fuming, roaring of engines and blinking of lights…and the wheels haven’t even moved yet.

We don’t get it because we put out a huge amount of effort getting that project started and since there is no movement, we assume things are going wrong. The only thing going wrong is that we don’t understand momentum.

You burn a lot of fuel before the wheels even move, and a lot more just rolling down the runway, and still the wheels aren’t even off the ground. The only way to break through all the inertia is to push even harder. But just before the wheels are about to leave the ground is about where most business owners start slowing down. The project never quite does what they wanted to accomplish and they chalk it up to outside forces.

The joy is if you push through the initial inertia, the project, employee, book, etc., will begin to get momentum of its own, requiring less and less outside momentum from you. Just know that your commitment, excitement, vision, clarity, direction, purpose, and in-the-trenches hard work are required to get it there.

Don’t stop pushing until you’re at cruise altitude. And when you get there, make sure you have someone else pushing and someone else at the controls. You’ll make more money in less time and enjoy the ride a lot more if everything is in place to keep it all in the air for you.

Planning won’t even get you a good plan, let alone success.

Stop thinking. Get moving.

Planning does not create success or even the best plan. It also doesn’t create action. Most planning just creates paper, spreadsheets, complexity, doubt, paralysis, and dream-dampening. There are two things that create a far better plan than planning itself.

If you believe that meticulous and detailed planning of every possible contingency is the best way to create success you won’t like this post. To make matters worse, I’m probably going to accuse you of living in a dream world.

How many SUCCESSFUL businesses were started from a highly developed business plan? Next to none. And of the very, very few I’ve found that were started from a business plan, when asked how that worked out for them, most laughed but none said that reality had followed their excel spreadsheet plan.

Yet we keep slavishly promoting an antique practice that has almost never done anything for anyone except get someone an “A” in an MBA class on how to build a business plan. Oh, and it will get you into debt, because banks are still requiring business plans so they have a teddy bear to hold while they give you money. None of those work out either, but most banks haven’t figured out there is a much better way to see if someone is going to be successful.

This isn’t a blog on the attributes of success (maybe I’ll do that one next week), but creating a 30-page business plan isn’t one of them. To the contrary, the simpler the initial plan, the better, because it’s going to change anyway.

I advocate a 2-Page Strategic Plan (never do another classic Business Plan unless you have an antique bank asking for one). A simple 2-page Strategic Plan is set up to change, adapt, and be clarified every one to three months – you know, sort of like life.

It shouldn’t take more than a few hours to do it because, again, like life, it’s going to change very quickly. The only part that is likely to not change is the objective – what do we want to see as a result? The rest of it is up for grabs – anything that gets us to that result will be added and anything that isn’t will be removed.

Once you’ve got a simple plan, the two keys to making it into a great plan are:

  1. Commitment (to the objective, not a plan)
  2. Movement (in a purposeful directions toward the objective, not “activity” based on a plan)

It is NEVER how good your plan is that creates success, but how committed you are to the bad plan you’ve got and how willing you are to get moving on it NOW. As you move with absolute commitment in a clear direction toward the objective – that commitment and that movement will work together to make your so-so plan into a world class one.

Commitment and movement create success, not a tortured 30-page document. And a simple 2-page plan will become brilliant over time if there is enough commitment to the objective and enough movement to inform you what to keep doing and what to keep changing.

Stop thinking, get a clear objective and get moving with abandoned commitment toward that goal. Use the movement to make the plan better all the time. You’ll make more money in less time by committed movement than you will by sitting around trying to figure out what might go wrong.