Working Backwards to Move Your Business Forward

Let’s start from the end. Can you picture your dream; that big goal you have, the successful business you want to start? When you close your eyes, can you see it? Do you know what it looks like, what it feels like to be there? If you can see it, you can do it. The challenge in reaching that dream is staying focused on your goal and developing and executing an effective plan to get there. Often when we are business planning, we can get too consumed by the beginning of the process and not focused enough on the end. We imagine our dream, and then jump to the beginning in order to start building a plan, when we should be starting from the end.

When I was a kid, my dad challenged my brother and I to solve the Rubiks Cube. Who ever finished first, won a cash prize. Frustrated and impatient, I took it apart and put it back together correctly, instead of working my way through the puzzle. It was not my finest moment, as I had to admit to my dad that I cheated, but the process of taking it apart led me to understand how the game worked and after that point I knew exactly how to solve it. Little did I know that it was teaching me the value of reverse engineering.

Reverse engineering is the process of deconstructing the fished product of something in order to understand how that thing works. Sometimes we do this in order to learn how to make something exactly like what we have taken apart. Sometimes we do it to learn how to make something entirely different. You may not realize it, but you are already an expert at this. You have been doing variations of reverse engineering throughout your childhood. You have destroyed puzzles and put them back together. Lego kits provide you instructions but how many times have you destroyed your creation after learning how all the parts and machinery works to remake it into something else. Understanding what the finished product looks like, and how it works is essential to knowing how to build it.

Deploying a reverse engineering approach to designing your business requires you to following these three steps:

  1. VISUALIZE your successful business in detail. This step should capture what your business looks like in 3 years or 5 years, it should include a detailed description of your products or services, and represent in detail what success looks like to you.

  2. IDENTIFY the components that are necessary to run the day to day operation of your successful business. For example, this step should include your infrastructure needs, your human resource needs, client attraction and retention needs, and financial capital needs.

  3. BREAKDOWN the timetable and action steps necessary to meet the day to day components of running your successful business. This step is where the meat of the work gets done, it includes a lot of questions, and is where you will deconstruct how you accomplished your success. For example, start by asking yourself how you set up your infrastructure, how long did it take, what resources were necessary, etc.

Over the past four years, I have walked over a hundred entrepreneurs through this process. It can seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it can create a much more rich business planning process and provide a more robust roadmap to success. It is also quite helpful (and a lot more fun) to work through the process with someone else. You can help each other by sharing the visions you have for your successful business 3 or 5 years down the line, asking each other the questions and help by being a sounding board and accountability partners for getting the work done.


In this example, you are a successful photographer, with your own photography studio. You earn 70% of your income from shooting portraits and products, primarily from your studio. You make up the remaining 30% of your income by providing online education and support to up and coming photographers through a membership site and fee based webinars and classes. The DOWNLOAD also includes sample questions you can ask to get the process started. GOOD LUCK and let me know how it goes!

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