Tom Gardners No. 2 Tip for Entrepreneurs: Have a Plan but Know Its Limits

November was Entrepreneurship Month on theRule Breaker Investingpodcast, and in this segment, Motley Fool co-founders David and Tom Gardner discuss some of their best advice for anyone else who wants to start a business, be their own boss, and create a lasting enterprise.

In this case, Tom's guidance involves strategy, clear objectives, and timelines for your organization, as well as an acceptance that no one can actually predict the future.

A transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Nov. 9, 2016.

David Gardner:Tom Gardner, tip No. 2.

Tom Gardner:Tip No. 2 is the tension between how far you can actually see forward -- so how far can you plan forward -- before it becomes absurd. That idea came to me, and to us, from a friend of ours, Nora Ephron, who wroteSleepless in SeattleandWhen Harry Met Sally. We got to have dinner with her. That's one of the great joys of The Motley Fool is the number of people we've gotten to meet in different fields. I mean, it's just been an amazing experience for us.

And Nora gave the commencement address at her alma mater, which I believe is Wellesley, and she shared that her family had a practice where anytime they had to wait ... it's like 30 minutes until your dinner table [and] you've got to wait 30 minutes sitting there ... her parents would bring out envelopes and they would have to write down a prediction about what they thought would be happening in their life 10 years from now. And then they'd put those in envelopes and set the envelopes aside with dates on them, and not touch them until 10 years later.

And, of course, 10 years have gone by. You have no recollection of what you wrote. And what Nora said in her Wellesley commencement address was that essentially every single prediction was wrong. So, 10 years is a very long period of time to look out. You probably can't do that. But you need to have, let's say, a one-year and three-year plan that everyone who's working with you can look at. And that plan needs to include: This is our purpose. This is why we exist. This is the unique reason that we exist.

Don't make it sound very generic. It needs to be distinct. You need to have core values, and then you need to have an objective. One year out, we want to achieve this. Two years out, or three months out, we have our clear objective, and everyone knows that that's what we're working toward. That's what winning means for our organization. So, getting that document in the hands of everyone you work with, I think, is a great tool for focus and alignment.

David:Nora Ephron died in 2012 of leukemia. One thing I know you read at the time -- I did, too, and I haven't revisited it -- but if anybody has not read her "What I Won't and Will Miss," which was kind of her last article. She probably intended it, obviously, to be published posthumously. It's a wonderful and fun reflection on life.

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