Lessons From Ike: Tips for the Battle-Ready Entrepreneur

by Thomas Samph · 18 comments

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Woo! BGB is back online!

If you dropped by at all in the last week or so, you may have noticed the unfortunate maintenance signs hanging around the joint.

Me with my DIY’er mentality tried to fix a teeny design issue and ended up creating a much BIGGER design issue.

In short, I broke it. Yes I’m a dork and that’s what I get for trying to tell myself I got skills. Heh.

Anyhoo, this is a guest post courtesy of Thomas Samph. Ya’ll know I love a good battle analogy, and in this post he talks battle strategy, leadership skills, and how it all boils back down to planning and being organized.

Oh yeah and how it can be applied to YOU sweetcakes, as a savvy and uber smart entrepreneur. As always, make him feel welcome by dropping your thoughts in the comment area below this post.

 “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower, five-star general and 34th President of the United States, knew what it meant to be a leader. From humble beginnings as the third of seven boys, “Ike” rose to command the Allied troops in the invasion of France and Germany and went on to lead desegregation in the army as President of the country.

Like all great leaders, planning was the basis of Eisenhower’s leadership.

Whereas plans are stagnant, planning evolves. And Eisenhower knew that a leader must constantly adapt to changing situations. A leader must constantly be planning. In battle, pursuing a stagnant plan means defeat; planning, however, evolves to solve problems.

So how can Eisenhower’s words help a budding entrepreneur? First we need to take a look at why plans are useless.

Your Plan is Useless

Why is a plan useless? Eisenhower’s statement implies that you can never know all of the obstacles you’ll face. There will always be unforeseeable problems. Your plans will change.

Entrepreneurs can think about starting a company as Eisenhower thought about going to battle. Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. While a plan can solve foreseeable problems, what’s going to solve the problem that comes after that?

For the unforeseeable problems that are certain to occur planning is indispensable because your plan will always change. Entrepreneurs, like Eisenhower preparing for battle, need to adapt.

What Eisenhower Left Out

While Eisenhower was right that planning is indispensable, there is something he left out of his quote.

Goal setting.

Without goals, planning is useless as well. When Eisenhower was preparing for battle, he had a goal. When he was running for President, he had a goal. When he was running the country, he had a goal.

Setting goals is the reason planning is necessary. As an entrepreneur, first you need goals. Once you’ve clearly indicated what you’re going after, then you can start planning.

So what do you need to start your planning?

Tools For Planning

The planning tools available to leaders and entrepreneurs today are quite a leg up compared to what Eisenhower had.

We can accomplish accounting, management and problem solving tasks with software that would have taken more people and more time to accomplish 60 years ago.

The software tools available today streamline planning.

However, you have to know how these tools can help your business. You have to know how they can help your planning.

What’s more, the tools can’t teach you better planning; they facilitate good planning. Finding the best software for your business will streamline and increase productivity. But only if you have the software that’s right for your needs.

For small businesses, you need to find software that will grow with you. Here is a list of the best tools for entrepreneurs to grow their business.

Staying Organized

Project management software will help you stay organized. The best project management software for a growing business is Basecamp. Produced by a company called 37signals, the basic plan for this software starts at $24. Clients can access projects currently in progress from any remote location.

Message boards facilitate discussion, storage space provides easy access to project files, and integrated scheduling makes sure tasks are completed on time.

For planning, project management software is a must. Although Eisenhower succeeded without project management software, that doesn’t mean it can’t help you. Those unforeseeable problems constantly loom on the horizon. Being organized with your planning will make you more adaptable to overcome problems in the future.

Coordination is King

Eisenhower coordinated the successful invasion of a continent. Those are pretty big shoes to fill, but you’ve got a computer. And a computer that can run remote desktop software, no less.

With remote desktop software, you can safely backup and manage projects from anywhere. Your best bet when it comes to this kind of software is LogMeIn, a company based just outside of Boston, MA.

For individual consumers, LogMeIn is free. You can access your desktop remotely from another computer, or even from your smartphone or tablet computer. However, you won’t be able to backup your files.

For businesses, LogMeIn comes with premium features. The ability to remotely manage and print, transfer files, share files and access via mobile devices comes with the $70 per year pro package.

Although LogMeIn provides encryption to keep your connection safe, look for the encryption features of other remote desktop software as a comparison. You want to know that you’re using safe remote desktop software.

Be Accountable

If your business has grown enough to need accounting software, AccountsPortal should be your first choice. It’s not too expensive, and scalable enough to grow with your business. Plus, you can access the web-based service from anywhere.

Always look for inventory management features on your software: accounting software with these features will help reduce human errors.

As Eisenhower said, planning is indispensable: you never know when those errors might occur.

Final Thoughts

Entrepreneurs should think about starting a company like Eisenhower thought about going to battle. Get the right tools to facilitate your planning, and know that you’ll always have to adapt to solve unforeseen problems.

OK BGB’er… there you have it. Tools, planning (constant planning) and rolling with the punches. All are essential to being a leader as well as a kick ass entrepreneur. Now do me a favor? If you like this post or found it useful, please consider sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, Google and/or SU. 😉 Much obliged. 

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