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Lost in the Business Startupping Maze? Use Your Goal to Find Your Way

By K. MacKillop
December 16, 2009; 6:10pm EST

Startupping a business, especially for the first time, can be a complicated mess. There is so much information available, and much of it in conflict, that it can be difficult to determine where to start and what to do next. In addition, "starting a business" can mean very different things to different people -- from working for oneself as a one-man band to launching the first phase of the next multi-million dollar conglomerate. Obviously, different paths require different tools, a different set of priorities, and a different level of information.

Trying to figure out what you are looking for, much less finding it, can leave you feeling like a rat in a maze -- hopelessly lost, irritated, confused, and, possibly, hungry for a little cheese. The best thing to do at this point is to take a step back and change your perspective. Remember those difficult pencil mazes in which it seems like every turn leads to a dead end? How did you solve them? The best mazers give up on starting from the beginning and try starting from the end of the maze.

By eliminating inappropriate options at the end of the maze, it is often easier to make the right choices from the beginning. In startups as in mazes, working backwards can allow you to see more clearly the path you need to take to succeed. In terms of considering a startup, the same logic applies. You need to know where you are going before you can make a plan to get there. Begin by creating a vision of where you want to be in five years. Do you picture yourself in an office with a full staff? Working at home, by yourself?

Travelling among multiple locations while others manage the day-to-day? What will be your specific responsibilities? Who are the customers you will be serving? What are the products you want to be offering? The services you will provide? What financial position do you want for both the business and yourself? There are no right answers, just be honest about how you want your life to be down the road.

Committing the answers to these questions to paper will help solidify your goals and remind you of them when you hit those branches in the maze. Once you have a clear idea in mind, work the plan backwards to today. For those with plans for significant growth, you will need to include additional tools in your startup planning now so that you are prepared for growth as it comes.

For those satisfied with self-employment over the long-term (no employees, limited growth), your priorities and needs will be very different. There is a right path to success in any kind of business, and the keys are good planning, effective marketing and solid financial management, no matter how big or small your venture will be. Be sure you know where you are going in order to make the best decisions to get you there. Don't stay lost in the business startup maze. Define your goals and plot your path to success!

About the Author
About the Author-K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur, is founder of LaunchX and blogs about starting a business. No matter where you are in the maze of business startup, the LaunchX System will help you reach your goal with step-by-step startup instructions, key software, management tools, business coaching and more. Visit LaunchX.com for a free Business Readiness Assessment.

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