Businesses often talk about what's next—the next product, the next step or the next creative idea they'd like to implement. What's next is a crucial question for all of us—in life and in business. But the glamour of tomorrow should never overshadow the goals of today; your biggest "next" may be your "now".
Entrepreneurs and new business owners are full of creativity. It's what makes them passionate and unique. They often expect success and push for progress. But unchecked, creativity can become like a kite without a string. The string is very small—almost trivial in comparison to the kite—yet it's a vital anchor.
I often ask business owners to describe where they see themselves in six months and 12 months. What's next for them? Where do they want to go as a business? Discussing their goals becomes a great exercise in expanding vision and clarifying passions. However, I then ask them to define a more present reality: "What do you need now?"
While tomorrow's ideas may seem more immediate, more impending, more exciting—today's needs may be more critical to the survival of a brand or business. Before we discuss where we want to go, the best practice is to evaluate where we are. I've witnessed businesses wanting to move on to the next product, or next subsidiary without fully establishing their business' foundation. Are brand standards applied to all active collateral pieces? When we talk about the business, is our brand story consistent? Do we understand our target audience? Are there current frustrations that we've been ignoring—like aging technology?
We all want to make progress. But before we move on to what's next, objective present evaluation of where we are is the first step in getting us to where we want to be.