BY ANDI GRAYDilemma: I am so wrapped up in the day-to-day activities of my business that I don’t get around to working on the big picture. How much of a problem is this, really? After all, I love the work we do and we're doing really well.
Thoughts of the Day: A business needs more than its current work. An owner has an obligation to the business to ensure that it stays around to continue doing what it does to serve the needs of its customers and employees. By organizing and overseeing the business, you can also ensure you get to do the work you want to do long into the future.
A business needs a mission, direction, and someone evaluating and guiding its progress. An owner who is head-down in the business cannot see where he is steering the company.
Setting up a business, getting those initial customers, and hiring the first employee can be game-changing for anyone. To ensure the business thrives, its owner has to be heads-up, looking at and evaluating the challenges and opportunities, deliberately navigating around problems, and charting a modified or altogether new course when and where needed.
Operating a business is a contact sport, with outside influences coming at the business all the time. To thrive, an owner has to organize the players, consider different moves, and anticipate what comes next. It’s hard to do that when wrapped up in the day-to-day duties, focused only on how to perform the next task.
Defining where you’re taking the business doesn’t have to be complicated. The following examples might get you started on your own set of goals:
• Each year we challenge the company to grow at 10 to 15 percent, becoming 1 to 2 points more profitable than the previous year.
• We constantly strive to increase the number of customers we serve, the number and value of products or services we offer, and the efficiency and accuracy with which we do what we do.
• We look for great customers who challenge us to grow and who provide us with the highest profit, because they respect and value what we do.
• We work with all customers to help them become great ones, and weed out the ones who cannot or will not understand and value the contribution we can make to their world.
• As co-workers, we respect each other, understanding that different viewpoints and approaches lead to better solutions.
• We boost each other up, encouraging education and personal development, know- ing that as each individual learns and grows, so does the company.
• We work as teams to solve problems, identify opportunities, and implement best practices in all that we do.
• We value productivity and seek to eliminate waste throughout the business.
• We accept that it is our job to anticipate and prepare for a future that can be signifi- cantly different from the present.
• The fruits of our labor result in a business that provides for the well-being of our employees and their families, now and well into the future.
It’s the owner’s job to know if the business is on track, and to make adjustments if it’s not. Failure rates in small business suggest that owners who avoid this obligation doom their businesses to an early death—in which case they, the owners, no longer get to do what they love best.
Sketch out your long-term goals. Include growth, profit and stability. Then form a team to chart the course that leads to those goals. Share the load and your job gets even easier, providing more time for you to do more of what you love doing. [CD0417]
Looking for a good book? Try “Productivity Unleashed: How to Achieve Any Goal in 7 Minutes A Day — Goal Setting Reinvented,” by Mark Messick.
Andi Gray is the Founder of the business consulting firm Strategy Leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.