Entrepreneurial lessons from Alice in Wonderland

If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which road you take. BUT, you may lose a few customers taking the wrong path.

As Alice navigates Wonderland, she stumbles upon the Cheshire Cat – a “Management Guru” in feline clothing. His advice to her is extremely relevant to entrepreneurs. Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which way she should go and his wise response is, “Well, it depends on where you’d like to get to?”  When Alice indicates she isn’t sure, the Cat’s sage advice is, “If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”

As entrepreneurs, we can easily get caught up in the day-to-day operations of running a business and lose sight of our overarching goals. The unfortunate result? Like Alice we can get lost in wonderland! Your customers and vendors don’t have the time for you to figure things out, and as a small business you definitely don’t have the luxury of making costly mistakes.  To be competitive it is imperative for you to find a clear and effective path to your business goals.

Easier said than done, when you are trying to increase sales, cut costs, build a social media plan, pay taxes, and the list goes on. With limited time and competing priorities, running a business can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips that my husband and I can share as fellow small business owners:

  • Set time aside during your lean period for goal setting and make it an annual planning activity.
  • Invite your supporters (including friends and family) to join a relevant part of the goal setting process. Think of your friends and family as your starter board. It might be best to skip Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum though!
  • Goals are incomplete without deadlines. Consider which goals you’d like achieve in the next five years, three years and the coming year. And, schedule time to check the status of your goals in the next six months. In the absence of the mystical Cheshire Cat or an expensive project manager use a simple excel spreadsheet. Call that friend who likes to tabulate and color code so you can track the progress of your goals.
  • Develop your identity. Alice is constantly being asked who she is – and so will you. Your brand is not just your logo; your brand identity represents your business’ services, values and personality. A consistent and well-positioned identity can generate customer loyalty and make you the envy of your competitors.
  • The next time you get ready to make a budgetary decision for your small business, think about where it fits with your goals. Will this investment get you closer to your goals? Will it make your customers happier? Improve operations? Build your brand? If it isn’t going to help you meet your short or long-term goals then you may be going down the wrong road and should reconsider that expense.
  • That being said, make the occasional exception and take a risk. It is okay to go mad, bonkers, and completely off your head. As Alice said to the Mad Hatter,” All the best people are!” The journey down a possible “rabbit hole” may result in a new opportunity that you may not have initially mapped out. Use your starter board to help you think through the implications of a major expense or new opportunity so you don’t make a hasty decision.

Figuring out where your small business is going is one of your most important responsibilities. So, where would you like to go?

Akanksha Aga, Co-Founder, My Méz                                                     

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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