Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

Starting a business can be a very scary experience, especially if you are a working-class kid trying to realize the American Dream.  That was me over 35 years ago and I remember saying to myself, “If I was a farmer back in the early 1900s, I’d have to get up early, work the fields, harvest the crop, shovel manure, and do everything; working long, long days.”  I never expected it to be easy.  Nothing worthwhile ever is.


In fact, when I started my business my wife and I worked over eight and one-half months without a day off.  We’d go to work in separate cars.  I was out making sales calls and she was in the office.  I’d wake up at six in the morning, run two miles, come home and shower,  then get on with my day.  After working in the field with salesmen and seeing clients until around five o’clock, I’d then work at the office until around 11:00PM and repeat that performance five days a week and work both days on the weekend.  It was a twenty-four-seven proposition.


That crazy schedule moderated over time, but the life of a small business person certainly isn’t nine-to-five.  Most people don’t have a clue what is involved in starting and building a small business from scratch.  Even the President of the United States doesn’t.  If he did, he wouldn’t want those of us who have been beaten the odds and become successful to pay more taxes.  He’d use tax policy to encourage more job creation and investment.  Small businesses are the nation’s largest job creator.  We do it from the ground up!


I’ll make a deal with President Obama: if he can give me all that time back in my twenties and early thirties  when I worked for nothing and re-invested every dime I made into my fledgling business and, by the way, created 12 jobs and was under tremendous pressure; then I’ll gladly pay more taxes.  It takes enormous effort and sacrifice to start and bootstrap a business and if you are reading this and involved in the “game,” I congratulate you!  Believe me, there is nothing more rewarding emotionally.


In the beginning, for me it was about creating an activity plan.  I knew that to earn the money I needed and wanted, it would involve a formula of making X number of phone calls per day to create Y number of appointments per week, and then Z number of sales per month.  I also targeted two referrals per appointment in order to build my sales prospect inventory.  I would also teach this formula to my sales staff.


The activity plan was my security blanket because I knew my job.  That was another courage-building conversation I had with myself.  I always succeeded at every job I ever had, so I had to look at this new venture as just another job.  And in order to be successful, I had to plan my work and work my plan.


© 2012 Steven M. Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steve Stroum

Steven M. Stroum, founder and president of Venmark International is a seasoned publicist, marketer, and entrepreneur who has been featured in INC Magazine, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, Industrial Marketing, OMNI Magazine, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, The Middlesex News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other media outlets. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, addressed many business and civic groups, and been a guest lecturer at Boston College, Babson College, MIT, and his alma mater Northeastern University.

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