The other day, I was explaining a hope I had for my business as I was opening a stack of mail. My well-meaning-but-wet-blanket husband repeated his favorite quote, “Hope is not a strategy.”

At that moment, I opened an envelope that contained a check from a person I had reached out to with a business proposition. I had not heard back from her, but had been hoping she would sign on.

“Ah ha,” I shouted. “See this? Hope is too a strategy.”

What my husband means, of course, is that you can’t just put your art out there in the world and hope people will find it and buy it. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come. To succeed, you need plans and strategies. And to create those you need to do research and identify your competitors. You need good branding and messaging. And you can’t always do it alone. Sometimes you need to hire people to help you build a better website or create stronger sales language or teach you how to manage your social media. You need to embrace marketing and promotion so people find you in the first place.

But my husband is also wrong that hope is not part of your strategy. You can’t tell me Steve Jobs or Bill Gates has never uttered the words, “I hope this new product flies.” Or that Adele has never thought, “I hope people like my new album.” Or that some Broadway actor has never said, “I hope I win a Tony someday.”

No matter what your passion or profession, you gotta hope your work will connect with the right people. In fact, I’d argue that without hope, none of us would ever start a new project. If you think of it that way, hope is the very first part of any strategy.

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