Every January I publish my success tips for small business owners. I hope these will give you inspiration and guidance for growing a sustainable business and achieving your goals for 2014 and beyond!
Look for your Vision
Many business people think of Vision as some kind corporate-speak “vision statement” that you put together via committee and frame on the wall and put on all your marketing collateral. When I talk about Vision, I mean your personal well-thought out vision of what you want for your own life this year, 3 years from now, and even 10 or more years from now (if you can think that far!). Once you are clear about what you want for your personal life, what is your vision for your business to support your personal vision and those of the other stakeholders in your company? Draft out what your company vision looks like for this year, and at least 3 years out.
Make a Plan
With your company vision in hand, now make a strategic plan to achieve that one year vision. Looking ahead to your 3 year vision, make sure to include in your one year plan the ability to get one third of the way there…or some other appropriate “way point” that you can measure progress against. Your strategic plan will include how to generate more business (marketing), how to improve your profit margins (internal systems and processes) and how to increase capacity to serve a growing business (organizational infrastructure/human and financial capital).
Now you need to actually do something with your plan. Don’t let it gather dust on the virtual shelf! Break out your strategic plan into action steps with due dates and people assigned to take ownership of each initiative. Sometimes some items can be outsourced if you don’t have capacity or expertise within your company to take them on.
One of the biggest barriers to implementation for small business owners is to commit to making time to drive their strategic plan forward. But it is absolutely critical to the successful achievement of your goals. Put time in your calendar to work on specific initiatives or to meet with the people to whom you have delegated action items. Honor your “working ON the business” appointment times just as much as you honor appointments with your clients and prospective customers.
Track your Progress
It has been said, “What you can measure, you can manage”. Check in regularly with your progress on your initiatives. Set benchmarks and goals and measure where you are at least monthly and in some cases weekly. Have targeted meetings with key people to make sure everyone is moving forward and executing their part of the plan effectively.
Much like an Olympic athlete stays focused on practicing every day to be the best in the world, if you really want to achieve your goals for 2014, you also must be fully committed to executing your plan. When you really resonate with your vision, it’s easier to stay committed to taking the actions you know you need to take – so make sure your vision fits! But all of us need support at times to stick with our plan. There are many ways you can support your success: Form teams in your company, get outside advisors, join a peer group or just find a like-minded business owner friend to be your “accountability partner”.
My 2014 Business Success Tips just scratch the surface of how to achieve your business goals this year, but I hope you find a nugget or two that will help you take action on the opportunities you have this year to advance in the direction of your vision. Here’s to your success!