The quiet days between Christmas and New Years provide opportunities for reflection and thinking ahead.
There is reflection about younger years in Africa (and this time last year when I travelled with my family to Zimbabwe to introduce them to the continent and return to the place where I discovered adulthood.)
Forward thinking: To a planned week-long cycling experience in Eastern Europe, two months after my business launches perhaps the most ambitious publishing project in my business career.
The incongruities here are quite amazing. I can visualize and have confirmed bookings for specific hotels and flights and travel details from Aug. 8 to 21, and a scheduled launch of the new ontarioconstructionnews.com daily in early June — but the planning for the August trip seems much more certain and reliable than the new business set-up.
In part the differences relate to the fact that the travel plans will follow structured processes and long-established (traditional) practices. The processes make it relatively easy to determine the budget and schedule, and set out the details well in advance.
The business start-up on the other hand requires the uncertainties of new systems and relationships. Sure, I can apply historical business knowledge and build many of the building blocks with people I know and relationships that are well-established. And there are (for a start-up) some unusually reliable data-points that allow me to assess the market and manage the risk. I have enough confidence in the schedule and processes that I can safely plan an overseas vacation, where I will have limited communications just 10 weeks after the business launches.
Yet it still feels strange to be able to track specific details for a vacation and yet I cannot see with anywhere near the same clarity how the new business will do.
I can estimate projected sales volumes, but cannot be certain.
I can project staff/time requirements and make sure we have the available resources in place, but cannot know absolutely how things will go.
And I can develop systems and processes to deal with problems — for example, technical support back-up when I am away — but of course I cannot tell exactly what messes will appear out of the blue at the last minute.
There are parallels of course for anyone trying to develop a marketing strategy or specific marketing campaigns.
We may have historical data to guide us, and we may have a clear understanding of best practices and processes to make it less likely that anything goes really wrong. We may even be able to plan the budget , at least at the starting phases, down to the cent and with a specific launch/start time.
But we can’t tell everything ahead of time, and there is still risk that things won’t go as we plan.
That is part of the enjoyment of the adventure, though.