A good way to keep your planning realistic is to know what knobs you have to turn.

For example, say you’re working a tractor trying to dig out a boulder in the middle of your yard or field. What knobs (for controls) do you have to turn?

  • You have controls to move the tractor forward, move it backward, and turn it.
  • You have controls to go faster, or slower.
  • You have controls to deal with the tractor equipment, like the blade and the digger.

And those knobs are your universe of solutions. So you deal with your problem given the controls you have. It doesn’t do you any good to think about what you’d like to do if you don’t have a control that can do that.

This is an important concept to keep in mind in business. You might want a lot of things for your business, but if you don’t have the resources to get there, if you don’t have the right people, or the know-how, or the working capital, then you have to plan on getting the resources first.

Strategy has to be realistic. Know what knobs you have to turn. Keep it real.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.