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The first element of your business strategy is vision. Outlining the dream gives you goalposts to aim for, and with a goal you’ve got something to call a “success”. Creating your vision involves three stages:

  1. Dream BIG.
  2. Get Real.
  3. Ship.

Dream BIG.

Its important to think big. Stretch the boundaries of what’s possible, and come up with a remarkable idea and project. There are no limits on your imagination. Dream BIG.

"It’s Not how good you are...
It’s how good you want to be”

A great little best-seller by Paul Arden (here's a slideshow showing his core ideas) and great for helping you define and explore your vision. There’s so much truth in that title, especially when you’re young.

You still know how to dream BIG. Teen businesses don’t have to be just mowing lawns or selling lemonade. Remember what you dreamt about when you were six, seven or eight. You know how to dream big.

Where do good ideas come from?

Steven Johnson explains how ideas form and come together. Hopefully you’ll identify with some of the things he talks about; collisions of lots of different “hunches”

What we need then is to generate lots of different “hunches”, and then to let them mature. Better still, your ideas and vision will evolve over time as you have more and more hunches. So here’s a few suggestions and little articles to help with this:

  1. Dog walks - I’m lucky in living near the sea. My best ideas come from walking along the quiet beach in the morning. That half hour or so away from a computer, parents and other distractions just gives the space needed to think over ideas.
  2. Use paper - Here’s a fantastic article and guide to using paper to generate and nurture ideas.
  3. Join More Creative Communities - OpenIDEO is a project run by a IDEO, a design and innovation company. They’re in the business of coming up with new and innovative ideas and solutions to big problems.

    OpenIDEO was launched to create a community-driven idea generating platform where you and thousands of other contributors from around the world can collectively work on a problem.

    Its a great way to ‘practice’ creativity and get rewarded for it as well (perfect for building more and more ‘hunches’)

  4. One Bad Idea A Day - At least one bad idea everyday! Crazy, but then with “the worst version”, you’ve got the perfect platform to build something great from. Besides, its a lot of fun, and it makes generating “the awesome version” so much easier. Try it.

One Long Shot, Three Fish In a Barrel

Imagine a shotgun; your targets right on the edge of its range. You’ve got only a couple of shots, if that. Maybe you might be able to walk closer and take a pop, but that’ll take time.

That long shot is the big dream. And yes, its maybe a little farfetched. That’s why you need your ‘certain wins’ - your fish in the barrel. Three of them. These smaller, more certain wins help you move towards that big goal. The profits, the learning from small success and the motivation of jumping hurdles.

Three fish in a barrel might include paid consulting around your area of expertise, blogging about what you’re doing then packaging your best advice into a book and sharing your ideas and expertise. Famous chefs give away their best recipes, but they’re still in business the next day.

When Do I Become "Successful"?

A fascinating thing happens when you get near your goals and objectives though. The persuit of your vision changes. Suddenly its something else, just on the horizon. This persuit of vision is what drives entrepreneurs - they can see their idea alive, now its just up to them to get there.

"Success is when reality catches up to your imagination."
- Simon Sinek

But in order to make something happen, and turn your vision into a reality, you need to go beyond “thinking big”. You need to think realistic - what do you need to do to put your first foot forward and get started?

Get Real.

Literally, “get real”. What’s the minimum you need to make this work? What can you chop and change? What can’t you live and do without?

It turns out coming up with a good idea isn’t that hard. What’s hard is making the next step - getting real is one of the toughest processes, especially for the visionary. Getting real is understanding what it takes to get your project and idea off the ground now. Getting real is ignoring the doubters, creating an action plan and making your idea realistic.

Don’t listen to the people who say, “that’s a stupid idea” unless it is, clearly, stupid. A lot of business is simply ‘applied common sense’. And a lot of business advice comes straight from people who have never done anything remarkable. Be careful who and what you listen to.

Listen instead to the people who suggest compromises. It means they have at least some faith in your vision. Its a discrete word of encouragement. However, their advice may not necessarily be the best either. You could OVER-compromise and be left with a shrunken, bastardized version of your original dream. That’s no fun for anybody.

getting realOne of the important challenges of getting real is making your dream, our dream.

How can you share your vision with other people so they feel compelled to follow and work with you to make it happen? What’s in it for them? It’s much easier to turn pipedreams into a reality when you’ve got more than one pair of hands.

The folks at 37signals wrote a book on ‘Getting Real’, written for software and web app developers - but there are gems in there for everybody. Seriously.

And the best news? Its available to read for free, now, online. Please read it.

Ship It.

This is the hardest part of your vision. Shipping.

Shipping, in the broad sense, means getting something out the door; “Make it happen” as my Dad says. Shipping is anything from doing the washing up to sending an email to launching a new product. Shipping gets harder and harder the more something matters.

It’s what’s known as the resistance.

Procrastination, nerves and that voice in the back of your head yelling “people are going to laugh at you. What the hell are you doing?!” - they all form the resistance. They're the CRAP - the Criticism, the Rejection, the Ass-holes and the Pressure.

The resistance will force you to over-compromize and “make do”. The resistance will turn your dream that kept you wide awake at night when it was first conceived in your mind, into mediocrity.

Few people push through the resistance. Its hard. That’s why you hear so few remarkable stories of success. Success follows people who have persisted with fighting the resistance; that’s what persisting is. An ongoing war.

Failing Your Way to Success

Many entrepreneurs will argue that you need to fail first before you succeed - its a learning experience they say. Two things here; its one thing having a failing project, and a totally different thing to have a failing company. Apple is successful, despite having its share of flops. But a failed company is just that - a failure. How would that be a good thing?

Surely the best thing is to learn from success, and this is the second point. You’re not accountable for other people’s failures, so why should “learning from failure” be a path to success. Just because other people fail on the way, doesn’t mean you should.

Doing Justice to Your Idea

Ideas are fiction. Success is reality. Your ideas want to become a reality, so if you don’t “make it happen” your doing your ideas an injustice; similar starving a small child. Yeah, serious stuff...

Your ideas matter. You need make them happen. Don’t procrastinate. Do justice to your ideas by making them happen now.

Awesome Links and Further Reading

  1. Make Big Plans
    Seth Godin shares the importance and power of making and spreading big plans and ideas

  2. How Do You Get Good Ideas for a Startup?
    Paul Graham, a prolific investor in the startup world, shares his suggestions for coming up with startup business ideas

  3. Quieting the Lizard Brain
    Seth Godin describes the lizard brain - that scared, tired, hungry, horny brain that controls most of human behaviour - and how to pin down that lizard brain so you can make your vision a reality.

  4. The Top Idea in Your Mind
    We only really ever have one *big* idea on the boil at any one time. Your top idea. Paul Graham discusses some of the pros and pitfalls of this kind of "ambient thinking".

  5. The Truth About Shipping
    Seth Godin answers the most common, heart-breaking questions about getting your ideas out the door.

Go to the Next Chapter: Leverage Your Strength

Focusing on what you're good at, you'll get more done. Here's the thorough guide to identifying and leveraging your personal strengths.

Teen Business Strategy Guide | Next: Personal Strengths

Return from Your Vision to Your Teen Business

Go to the Next Chapter

  1. Your Vision
    Why dreaming big can have such a huge impact on your business, but how "getting real" is what will make your dream a reality.

  2. Personal Strengths
    How and why to build a business based on your personal strengths, why you should embrace your limitations and how to maximize your talents.

  3. Passion
    Passion is that unusual force that means you wake up in the morning; here, you'll learn why money doesn't equal passion, how to find your passion and what to do with it.

  4. Resources
    How to get all the people, the money, the kit and the training you need to make your business actually happen. Without this, you'll be forever frustrated.

  5. Business Mentors
    Having experienced experts guiding you through this whole "business" landscape is the single fastest-accelerator for your teen business. Discover the secrets to successful networking here.

  6. Masters of Marketing
    Marketing is the single most misunderstood part of everyday business. Here, get introduced to the Masters of Marketing who will really teach you how to win customers.

  7. Make It Happen!

    Its great having a strategy to this elaborate business of yours, but its another thing to actually make it happen. This is your guide to getting things done

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The ideas in this guide were inspired by lots of different books and videos, but none more so than Rework. Written by the guys at 37signals

Here's a quick summary by Jason Fried of what's in the book

It was also heavily influenced by Cameron Herold's TEDxTalk on Raising Kids to Be Entrepreneurs