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    Successful business operators tend to be people that create lists. If you think about it, lists are essential, and keep you on a profitable path.

    The action of setting tangible goals is closely related to the creation of lists. One seldom exists without the other. Lists, composed of all different sizes, shapes, and intent, are everywhere in our business. We’ve seen detailed (and roughly accurate) financial projections listed out on a used pizza box. MBA students sometimes favour little index cards. A well-known photographer client uses archival-grade photo portrait paper for his marketing plans, along with a black felt tip pen.

    No matter whether your list consists of pixel driven PDA calendar items, the ubiquitous text and number driven spreadsheet tabs, or hundreds of dog-eared little sticky notes, these small reminders help you to keep your priorities at hand, line out (un)forgettable details, and do much more than just remind you of the trivial.

    Lists have great potential for planning, for action, and for ideation. Lists keep you focused on big-picture planning, and serve as a subtle reminder that your entire business strategy does not have to operate in your mind’s frontal lobe all of the time. Lists keep you from forgetting those critical little things, those tiny details that only matter to you, and yet, sometimes make all the difference in the world, to you, your customers, your family, clients, vendors and employees.

    The most important list of all? Your planned annual goals. They should be realistic, quantifiable, and clearly spelled out. They should be integrated with your business model. There is no better way to verify incremental progress and make sure that your priorities dovetail correctly with the performance of your business.

    Every calendar year, it’s absolutely critical to re-examine your business goals. This action is the bedrock of business planning. A loose mental picture isn’t sufficient. When lined out, item by item, they become solid, actionable, trackable. Revenue goals aren’t enough.

    It’s more meaningful to make the list personal. What do you wish to learn this year? What would you like to change? What part of your business do you want to see succeed? What actions give you the most personal satisfaction? Most importantly; Do you have the correct business model to achieve what you want to achieve? There is an old saying: when you are dying of thirst, it is too late to think about digging a well. Start digging that metaphorical well today by aligning your daily lists with annual planning goals. It will help you and your business prepare for adversity as well as success. And for goodness sake, clean up all those old sticky notes.

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