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Reverse Engineer Success – Begin with the End in Mind!

All things are created twice, once in the mind, and once in physical reality. To manifest our mental creations, we must visualize what is that we want, professional and personally. The best way to do this is by defining what we want before we even begin. Not from only a surface level, but also from an internal perspective. This is the concept of reverse-engineering, also popularly known as starting with the end in mind.

The term may seem technical, but in reality, it is a very simple concept. When we reverse engineer, we define and establish our target in our minds. When we do that, we establish direction and destination. At that point, we take constructive action, building what we want day by day. With patience and persistence, we will achieve our goals.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, beginning with the end in mind is imperative for success. When beginning a venture, our initial thoughts are on our goal. Not only is this visual process useful, it can be deconstructed and utilized as a point of lift off. Once we complete the deconstruction process, we can begin to label what components we can attack first, and what we will need to hold off on. There are four basic steps to focus on : determine the most basic level of the goal, confirm your commitment, identify the specific steps you must take to achieve your goal, and finally and most importantly, taking action.

To understand this process, lets proceed with a hypothetical example – let’s say I want to build an internet business in the food catering industry, particularly one that focuses on developing and sharing free content to attract an audience that will purchase premium digital products related to improving their catering business. I’ll provide a brief explanation of what a step is, and an example of the step.

Basic Level Determination

This step will lead to multiple questions and considerations as we move forward. The  definition of the “Basic Level” is what you want you want the outcome of your actions to be. What is it exactly you want to achieve within a specific time-frame? In brief, this is your ultimate goal.

Example: Start a food catering blog with frequent traffic within a one year time period. I want my business to sustain my basic needs and provide practical, valuable content to individuals seeking to expand their food catering business.

Ensure Your Commitment

Each entrepreneurial project has a different commitment level. Some involve basic steps, and commitment here is easy because we have the means to dedicate to accomplishing our goal. Some are very resource intensive and require significant means to accomplish.

At this stage, we must assess our commitment, and essentially ask ourselves how much we are willing to sacrifice to get to our goal. We can begin a personal commitment assessment by asking ourselves the following questions:

  • Will this problem solve my frustration?
  • Is this the only option?
  • Am I willing to dedicate X number of hours to this project?
  • If I don’t do this, what will happen?

Does this align with long-term and short-term goals of my organization? Of my personal plan?

The number of questions to reaching a definite commitment is theoretically endless. But, focusing on growth/improvement and estimating a resource cost will help you to remain committed.


  • Yes, it will lead to be to a place of freedom
  • Yes, according to my time constraints.
  • Yes, I am willing to dedicate 40 hours per month, or 360 hours per year.
  • If I don’t do this, I will not progress in the direction I would like to.
  • Yes.

If your answers are primarily positive, then you have guaranteed commitment. There is room for a positive outcome, and now you go into the meaty portion of the problem.

Envision The Steps to Take

This step is relatively simple, yet can be the most daunting. Why? Because none of us are fortune tellers. In this component, we must take a step back and perceive a staircase. Which steps will you have to take to get to the point where you have met all the requirements in Step 1 (see above; determine what you want). Similar to Step 2, we will ask ourselves questions that lead to the final answer.

Let’s take the example and work from there.

My goal (from step 1) l: Start a successful catering blog – success defined as supporting myself from it’s revenue, and also providing valuable content.

  • How much money do I need to support myself (and family if necessary)?
  • Who will my target market be?
  • Why would this target market want  to buy from me?
  • What type of product can I offer them?
  • How long will it take to create this product?
  • What features are the most important?
  • Are there other forms of this product currently available?
  • What type of content will I create to retain interest?
  • How I will I drive leads to my website?
  • Is there anyway to monetize my blog sooner than later?

I purposely limited the amount of questions to 10, but in reality, there are a variety of steps. Specifically, in the case of a catering blog with hopes of monetization, the steps will be related to content, content delivery, sales leads, consumer feedback, frequency of content production and posting, and the development of the product.

The ultimate goal is to create a mental staircase, whether it be winding, or straight. In the case of winding staircase, your previous answers are driving your current questions. A straight staircase is limiting, because you are not considering feedback. That is why I suggest constantly asking questions that compound on your previous solutions.

At this point, you’ve accomplished 50% of working backward. You’ve outlined what you want to achieve, if you can rationally commit to getting where you want, and what specific steps you will take to get there. The last step will determine if you will get there or not.

Take Action

The hardest step is the most pivotal step. Now that you’ve outlined your personal resources, and considered questions related to your positioned objective, it is now time to take action!

At this point, it is important to remember to avoid analysis paralysis –  the tendency to overanalyze and remain inactive. Being prepared and planning is the point of this exercise, but ultimately, the entrepreneur must move forward or nothing will come to life. Therefore, I suggest that after writing down 20 steps, you take the first one. It’s easy to get caught up in considering all the angles, but our objective is to act with confidence and clarity, and after 20 steps, you should be mentally ready to do something productive. After the 20th step, stop, sit down, and start!.


Starting with the end in mind is a lot like other planning exercises, yet it is different because it asks you to detail and visualize what you want, consider your personal resources, and what immediate steps you must take. With this tangible plan, you can work towards your goal with purpose and confidence.

This article was brought to you by Chirag Shah – if you’re looking to get in touch you can do so here:


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