One of my favorite quirky movies is Wordplay, which focuses on the man most associated with crossword puzzles, New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz. In the film, there is a short clip with Bill Clinton speaking about crossword puzzles themselves and as a way to address large, complex issues. Using crossword puzzles as an analogue, he finds that even the most complicated problems can be broken into small, knowable steps, which pave the way to achieving a more complete answer.
All business owners face complex issues from time to time. Next year’s budget? Mapping workflow processes? Capital investments? Most of us look at projects like this, which in their entirety look far too daunting, and simply take a pass. Then we wonder why we never tackle the strategic stuff.
Instead of getting ahead of yourself and trying to tackle the entire problem, try this. Work from your strengths – work from what you know.
For instance, if you are building a budget, ask your accountant to provide you with a breakdown of monthly revenue and expenses from the current year. If you have multiple years of data, look at each year’s monthly revenue and expenses, average all years, then plug the average into a spreadsheet for the next year – month by month. This is not your budget – (to be covered in a future blog)– but it is a place to get started.
There can be no finish, if there is no start.