Strategic Business Planning is Like Carving a Pumpkin

Happy Halloween

This weekend we carved our jack-o-lanterns. It’s been a fun tradition over the years watching the kids grow and expand their pumpkin carving skills. This year they are old enough to pretty much handle the entire process on their own. Since my pumpkin didn’t survive the recent snow storm, I got to sit back and observe the process. What came to mind during the process is that carving a pumpkin is exactly like strategic business planning! Let me help you see my vision.

1. Find the perfect pumpkin

Finding the perfect pumpkin is key to having a successful jack-o-lantern. Over the years we’ve explored various pumpkin patches to find the one place that consistently sells top notch pumpkins year after year. Not only do you need high quality pumpkins, but you also need to watch the weather. See, here in CO we tend to get the first few snow falls of the season throughout Oct. Unless the pumpkin patch hauls in pumpkins, you’re going to want to pick your pumpkin before the first snow. Otherwise the pumpkins get squishy and rot quickly. Finally, you need to find that perfect pumpkin – shape, color, size, lumpiness, characteristics, etc.

Finding the perfect pumpkin is like creating a business. You need to research the ideal location for your business that will maximize your customer base. You need plan for events outside of your control (ie early season snowstorms). These can be market crashes, competition quickly gets up to speed, etc.. Finally, you need to plan to maximize your profitability. Like finding the right pumpkin, you want to invest your time and energy in putting together a viable business plan to ensure you get off to the right start.

2. Make a plan

Before you start carving, it’s important to draw out your face or design on a piece of paper. This allows you to easily make changes, make adjustments if the vision in your mind is too complicated to execute, and have a pattern to copy on your pumpkin. Having a well thought out plan ensures your pumpkin carving turns out right.

To be successful in business, you need to have a well thought out plan. You need to spend time thinking about the products and/or services you are going to sell, design a marketing and advertising plan, map out your 1, 3, 5, and 10 year goals, consider what your competition is currently doing, and investigate the changes taking place in your industry.

3. Invest in tools

Remember when we had to carve pumpkins with kitchen knives? What a disaster! Then someone invented the little pumpkin carving knives. This opened up a whole new world of pumpkin carving creations!

Your business can also benefit greatly by having the right tools in place. Tools can help streamline workflow, improve organization, automate processes, help speed up the manufacturing process, create better teamwork, etc.

4. Recruit your team & Bring in the Experts

Carving a pumpkin is best done with friends and family. Hoping for a scary pumpkin, you might need to recruit your dad. Dreaming of a silly pumpkin, you might need to recruit your brother. Looking for a piece of art? You might need to recruit the creative & artistic kid at the end of the block. Want that intricate pattern carved into the side of your pumpkin, your patient mother might be a good choice.

Same thing for your business. You need a team of people behind you who see your vision and are excited about your mission. The best employees are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty when work needs to get done. They also need to have their own ideas, know how to execute, and be a fun team to work with. As your business grows, you’ll need to bring in external experts as well to help with accounting, financial planning, cash flow management, a legal team, and marketing gurus.

5. Execute

Now the most important step, execute! Pull out those carving knives and create your masterpiece to be proudly displayed on Halloween night!

Execution is also the most important part of running a successful business! So many business owners get wrapped up in the planning, they forget to execute. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and execute your well thought out business strategy plans! This is where you make your dreams a reality, sell your products, and make the world a better place!

As you can see, strategic business planning is like carving a pumpkin. Next time you get overwhelmed, step back and tackle it just like you would carving your award winning jack-o-lantern.