Entrepreneurs have a tendency to overlook a key component of their initial business startup…where is the finish line? They have a great idea for a new “widget” that will revolutionize the world and make them gobs of money and they will retire and never have to work again! Sound familiar?

Most startups don’t make it to revenue positive. Most companies don’t make it past their 5th year of operation. Some companies have been hanging on for 10 years just breaking even never making a leap to the next level. I have seen many entrepreneurs/business owners fail for numerous reasons, but find that the majority fail due to their lack of focus on the finish line!

As we consult for companies, we see this trend more than not. Some entrepreneurs feel that “if they build it, they will come”, others, have never thought of it, they are too busy just getting the business off the ground, running the day-to-day operations, working on R&D, marketing, hiring, selling, accounting, legal, paying the bills and everything else they have to worry about!

We recommend entrepreneurs start at the finish line and work toward the starting line! What do we mean by starting at the finish line? Start with your exit strategy first and work toward how to get there in reverse. For instance, if you are looking at an exit strategy of being acquired by a larger company in your space, then you would use that as a starting bench mark. Create your Business Strategy with the exit strategy in mind.

Strategy is that part of business that defines the future of a business, including its business model, plans for growth, and ways of defending itself against external threats and competition. In recent years, many companies cut back or eliminated strategic planning. They rationalized that it was too difficult, given the rapid pace of change. But as many companies learned from the dot-com meltdown, a realistic business model and strategy are essential for survival. The challenge for most companies is to find the time, resources, and expertise to do strategic planning effectively.

Next, seek the right people to manage the strategy. Bring in people who share your vision, understand the exit strategy and have the experience and knowledge to get it done! It is important not to skimp here. You get what you pay for, so go after people who will make a difference as you build your business.

I have talked about this before, you can’t do it all yourself, so find people who can help you succeed. Business conditions today are more challenging than ever. Business owners constantly face global opportunities and threats, changing economic conditions, stricter regulations, and disruptive technologies. Each of these challenges demand executive time and attention to formulate alternatives and decide a course of action.

Yet, business leaders are already stretched to their limits. Responding to cost pressures, companies have thinned the ranks of business and barely have adequate resources to handle day-to-day operations, let alone take on new initiatives — even those that could bring significant improvements.

As you work from the finish line back, you start to see a very clear picture of your company’s path to the finish line…because you already have been there! There is clarity when faced with trials and tribulations along the way. You see the “big picture” opposed to road blocks that slow down progress and you continue to move your business forward.

Stay focused on the finish line and build your business with intensity and most of all PASSION!

To your success!