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So you’re primed, hungry and ready for your big success (or at least that’s what you’re hoping). Is it really as easy as having a blind faith and loads of energy or is there more to it? In this blog I want to talk to you about finding your winning zone and staying there.

Following my post last month about finding your winning zone, here are some additional tips on how to get your emotional state correct and keep it there.

Tip #5 Make a plan and write it down

This does not have to be War and Peace but also it can’t be on the back of an envelope. My first plan from when we started Upstream was six pages long (I still have it today). The last page was our proposed financial plan and the other five were our views at the time of what the business was all about and why it would be successful.

Most business plans like this one don’t work out exactly how you plan them, but they do serve as a fantastic starting point and basis for focussing your energy and activities. It’s OK to review your plan every few months and modify it based on your actual experiences. I’ve also observed many people who don’t document a brief plan and change their mind about what they are doing every couple of weeks. This is a pretty good recipe for failing, just as is trying to plan for every given scenario and spending too much time planning and not enough time doing.

Tip #6 Identify your critical success factors (CSF)

Most business plans will have only a few CSF’s. These are the things that will make the most difference to your success or failure. Many people when they embark on their new plan have trouble deciding what areas to really focus on and what areas not to. An example of this might be somebody spending countless hours on the design and layout of their business cards and logo in a business venture when these are unlikely to be make or break decisions. It’s very easy to be too much of a perfectionist or control freak on too many aspects of your plan that won’t have a large bearing on your success. Your CSF’s however are those things that will make or break you.

Figure out what they are and figure out how to concentrate most of your time and efforts on these things. If you’re having trouble figuring out your CSF’s run your business plan through your support and mentoring network and ask them to help you figure out what they think.

Tip #7 Manage your time, energy and focus

Embarking on your new plan will most likely involve long hours. Working 60 hours per week or even more is no guarantee of success. Be very careful about working endless hours and not managing your time, energy and focus. You will be much more successful if you learn quickly how to identify and plan the use of your most productive time; your A Time.

Nobody is capable of working long hours and maintaining high energy and high focus. You will serve your plan much better with 20 well planned A Time hours than 60 unplanned tired hours. I’m not suggesting you only work 20 hours per week but I am suggesting you figure out when you are at your best (highest energy levels and best focus). Is that mornings, evenings, different days of the week? Make sure you spend your A Time working proactively on your critical success factors. I break my time into three zones, A, B and C based on my energy and focus levels. Plan these times each week and spend your time where you can get your best bang for buck.

Tip #8 Learn the numbers

Understanding the basic financials of how your business makes money (or plans to make money) and manages its cashflow is not that hard. Learning how to be a fully fledged accountant or finance guru probably is but you don’t need to be that sophisticated.

Too many business people cop out when it comes to the numbers “that’s not my thing” or “my accountant does that”. I’m not suggesting you can’t be successful if you don’t understand your numbers but it’s not that hard and it does leave you particularly vulnerable. Being able to clearly articulate how you plan to make money and manage your cash will make your venture much more attractive to the banks or any other investors.