One of my favorite mantras is, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”.  So, before I launch something major (like I did with The Entrepreneur Equation), I put in a lot of preparation.  And as I think about preparation, I always focus on probable vs. possible.

-It’s possible that you will marry a supermodel (possible, but not probable)

-It’s possible that you will become the ruler of an island nation (possible, but not probable)

-If you are female, it’s possible that you will marry George Clooney (possible, but not probable)

-If you are male, it’s also possible that you will marry George Clooney (slightly more possible than the above scenario, but still not probable)

When you focus on future plans, while many things are possible, it doesn’t make those things a good use of your time.  If you want to be wealthy, you wouldn’t invest all of your money into lottery tickets on the possibility that you will win the lottery; you would focus your efforts on the more probable strategies like a balanced portfolio.

So, if you are launching a new project, product or service, focus on the probable.  It’s possible that you can be featured on Dr. Phil or on the front page of The New York Times, but the probability is that your message and product will spread through people who know you, who trust you, who like your past products and/or messages and who like you (or at least respect you- being liked is a tad overrated).

Those are the people that you should be focused on.  Leverage your current customers and networks, and start building new connections way before you need them. Those people that you cultivate relationships with will have a far greater impact than any advertising or PR strategy can ever bring.

So, start early and prepare.  And if you are seeking some guidance on preparation, here are a few things to remember:

1-Focus on the influencers: Think about who has the power to influence your target audience or customer.  Those people can be very valuable to your network.

2-Give to get: Give to people first, but not because you are looking for quid pro quo, because you love what they are doing and want to be supportive of their efforts.  It’s a great way to start a relationship.

3-Make reasonable asks: If you are going to ask something of someone, make sure the “ask” is reasonable, given your relationship.  You wouldn’t meet someone at a networking event and then ask to borrow their condo in Florida for two weeks.

4-Always be authentic: Relationships built on phoniness or ulterior motives aren’t relationships and don’t last.

Remember, if the possible does happen, it will be gravy, but do your preparation around the probable.