News about the economy may be edging positive, but there is little doubt we are in a different and still-changing business environment. Many business owners are operating cautiously, perhaps feeling chastened and downright scared from recent turmoil. They may be paralyzed, unable to move, even as their business grows weaker and weaker.
Other business owners are thriving in spite of the economic climate. What makes them different? Here are three things they have in common:
- Successful Business Owners have a Clear Plan – and stick to it.
Rather than living in denial or paralysis, owners of thriving businesses approach economic conditions as opportunities, and figure out where and how they can thrive and grow. They ask that all-important question: How does their product or service provide value to their target audience in a way that differentiates them from competitors? From there, they build a plan. Using their experience, market knowledge and focused research, they “guesstimate” what the future holds. From those assumptions, they formulate a strategy to help them get from HERE to THERE in prioritized, stepwise fashion. A plan like that need not be voluminous nor complicated. It may be only a single page! But it’s worth its weight in gold.
- Successful Business Owners know their numbers.
Successful Business Owners are aware of where they are financially. They have a good system to track and monitor their revenues and expenses (like QuickBooks or industry-specific software) that are kept updated at all times.And they know how to read and evaluate their P & L and Balance Sheets regularly, noting trends. Their numbers are tied inexorably into their plan, and each supports the other. It may be intimidating at first, but once the skills are learned, it changes the way owners of thriving businesses “keep score.”
- Successful Business Owners Measure and Monitor Progress, and they Evaluate and Adjust regularly.
Owners of thriving businesses check in frequently with their plans. Focusing on executing their plan also provides a sense of stability for owners. It is a consistent measure against which they can all calculate your success.They trust it because it represents their best hypotheses, but they keep close tabs on progress of their goals and measures of success. At least monthly, and perhaps more frequently, they pull out the plan, review the assumptions, and check their progress. They ask themselves: Does this still seem like the right course? What has changed in the environment or my assumptions that would make me want to change it? If there is no better information than what they had when they made the plan, they just manage they progress.
If it’s been a while since you’ve gone offsite and made a through review of your company’s performance and direction, now is the time to take that time away. Go on your own first, spend some time reviewing the past, and then look into the future. Then, get your team members on board. Hire a facilitator (so that you can fully participate) and do the same thing, agreeing together about what the future holds, and how you will respond to it. That clarity will pay big dividends as the waves of uncertainty come crashing in.