I read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when I was in high school. One of the habits that I return to again and again is, “Begin with the end in mind.”

Every quarter, every 6 weeks, every week, and everyday I develop and work off a plan. In addition, I’ll often develop a plan for internal or customer projects.

I do a lot of thinking and planning and I always begin with the end in mind.

This intentional approach is always helpful, but I’ve noticed that it’s easy to degrade the effectiveness of it through generalization.

To give you an example, when I plan weeks, I start with the question of, “What would make this week great?”

It’s easy to respond, “If we made progress on our six week objectives.”

That’s not a terrible answer. It orients in the right direction. But the general nature of it doesn’t provide any traction. It presents no obstacles. The lack of specificity inhibits innovation. Only when you’re clear on exactly what the end is, true issues and opportunities begin to reveal themselves.

As it pertains to small business growth, there are all sorts of environmental restraints that will prevent a small business from growing. But the axle around which they revolve is your effectiveness, your ability to make reality match your vision.

Featured image is Rye harvest on Gotland, Sweden, 1900–1910. Used under public domain.