How to get to the Moon

The following blog is made up of the best bits of editorial, articles and blogs that I’ve come across in my 38 years of working life, 30 of which I spent as my own boss at a very successful Creative Agency.

I thank all those that have inspired me to make (and write!) my own observations on these subjects. I now want to switch my focus to helping the next generation find the success that I did, and hopefully avoid a few of the pitfalls I didn’t!

On 12th September 1962, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, stated in a very matter of fact way: “By the end of the decade, we will land a man on the moon and return him to earth”.

This is one of the World’s best-ever examples of a vision statement. It was definitive, time-limited and very specific. It was then down to NASA to deliver the goods!

I’m constantly surprised that people run businesses without knowing where they are heading. The equivalent in the JFK example would have been him saying: “We’re going to build a rocket sometime in the future for a yet undefined purpose”. 

A successful plan should always start with what is wanted to be achieved, and by when. Then, you have yourself a specific, desired outcome. From this desired outcome, you can then go right back to today - and begin the planning phase. 

NASA didn’t go straight into building that rocket. They broke the problem down into its component parts and started planning around that. Once they’d reached a specification for each of those vital components, then they would start designing and testing each one. 

Eventually, they would bring them together. The Saturn 5 rocket, with the Lunar Module on top, would take a man safely from the Earth to the moon and back again. No mean achievement in the late 60s.

Let’s translate this into a business scenario, specifically a marketing agency:

“In 5 years, we want to grow from 5 employees to 15 and retain 10 clients, spending a combined £500k, which we will top up with project work to the value of £250k. We want to make a net profit of 20%.”

This is a measurable and well-defined goal, and is within a specific timescale. Now, let’s turn our attention to how this can all be achieved. This creates a level of focus, it oils the wheels of thought and prepares the business for its planned trajectory. 

Whilst the route we travel from A to B is never straight, and will undoubtedly bring setbacks, the core plan will ensure you stay focussed and stay as near to the track as you can. 

NASA also had many setbacks. They were seeking to take men where they had never gone before - and this was by no means an easy journey. 

As we all know, the Apollo 11 landed on the moon on 20th July 1969, returning all three astronauts back safely to Earth some days later.

BusinessJonathan Leafe