It was a truly impressive display of planning your work and working your plan. Here’s what I saw:

  • It started with my daughter’s personal vision for her perfect wedding. (A long-range vision.)
  • Then, she started making lists and putting her thoughts down on paper. (Establishing goals and written plans.)
  • This, in turn, led to Katie asking various people (including me, but especially my wife Joyce) to handle assorted aspects of the operation. (Delegating – Assigning specific tasks to specific people with specific timeframes and outcomes.)
  • Katie followed up with the people involved and on the planned activities to ensure all was proceeding as expected. (Using Key Performance Indicators to measure progress and success.)

I saw a potential lesson for small business owners. What if a small business owner planned and managed his or her business this way? Now, I know that this is not a perfect analogy. A wedding is a one-time event, and a business runs continuously. I understand that. But isn’t there something to be gleaned from such an example? For the most part, entrepreneurs know what needs to be done. The shortcoming isn’t in the knowing; it’s in the doing (or not doing.)

Suppose Katie had established her vision, and maybe even went so far as to develop written goals and plans, and then dropped the ball. No follow-through. No delegation. No execution. The results would be predictable.

Instead, she was passionate about her vision, was focused on her goals like a laser beam, and was committed to executing her plans.

And so, I ask again: What if a small business owner planned and managed his or her business this way?

Back to “knowing and doing” … Let’s assume that you know what you want to accomplish and you know what needs to be done to get there. You’ve got the “knowing” part squared away.

Turning “knowing” into “doing” starts with a plan. Many business owners get tripped up at this stage. We entrepreneurs are natural optimists, and as a group we have no shortage of self-confidence. As a result, we sometimes tend to anticipate unrealistic outcomes. I frequently see small business owners whose to-do list would choke a horse. A relatively short list of major initiatives is plenty for anyone’s annual plan. Better to set optimistic yet realistic goals and achieve them than to set yourself up for disappointment by expecting too much.

So a plan is written and now it’s time to execute. Now what?

In my daughter’s case, she still had to deal with the ordinary, day-to-day stuff … her job, socializing, paying her bills, time with family, time with her fiancé, errands, and so on. Yet, because she was passionate about her vision, was focused on her goals like a laser beam, and was committed to executing her plans, she pushed through the clutter. Pushed through the distractions. Pushed through the interruptions. Discipline allowed her to turn her vision into reality. (I’m a down to earth, nuts-and-bolts guy, so I don’t want to sound too mushy, but I believe that your level of discipline is directly proportionate to your level of passion.)

She did much of the work herself, but she also delegated much of it to my wife and to others. For many business owners, one of the following scenarios comes into play. See if you can see yourself in any of these:

  • Nobody can do it as well as I can. Therefore, I may as well do it myself.
  • By the time I show someone else how to do it, I can go ahead and do it myself.
  • I don’t trust my employees with the information they need to handle this task, so I’ll do it myself to guard the information.
  • I try delegating to my employees, but I just can’t let go. I’m there micro-managing every step of the way. So I’m 100% wrapped up in all the details, and no time is saved.

Learning to delegate effectively is a critical skill. It was a big part of this event’s success. Fail to delegate and your enterprise will suffer. Finally, as time passed my daughter followed up with the various players to ensure that tasks were accomplished as planned. When needed, plans were adjusted and corrective action was taken. You can do the same in your business. Use your passion for your vision to muster up the discipline needed. Set optimistic yet realistic goals, develop written plans, and then focus on them like a laser beam. Commit to executing your plans, and don’t allow yourself to be stopped by day-to-day distractions. Delegate. Measure your progress and make adjustments as needed.