Updated: May 15, 2018
As a business owner or leader, you know it can feel as if there are not enough hours in the day. We all have this feeling from time-to-time, but it certainly shouldn’t be the “norm.” Your focus—working toward great results, customer needs, and expectations is why you got into business in the first place. So often that seems to be the last thing on our “to do lists.” Employee issues, payroll, cash flow—they all seem to be at the forefront of what we spend our time doing instead.
Maybe you found time this year to attend a time management course and maybe you even took away some great ideas. You left the course inspired, but implementation of what you learned was difficult to say the least. You likely asked, “Where can I find support?“ or “How do I improve my results?” or “How do I get back to focusing on the parts of the business that I love?“ A great #strategy will allow you to do just that. Strategy development is the key to our success, but less than 10% of businesses actually create strategy. Even less of us do more than just create it and let it collect dust on the shelf. If this is you, you are not alone and there is an easy way to rectify your situation.
Results are always the key to business and the key to success for individuals as well. Entrepreneurs are by definition, problem solvers. The business that entrepreneurs create is designed to solve problems for customers. With this in mind, when running the dynamics of your business starts to “get in the way” of solving problems for other people (your customers) it is time for you to reconnect with customer needs and expectations at the base of your new strategy. You created your business or lead your company/organization in order solve problems for others. The business should not add to your list of problems. So how do we find the time?
The problems for the business obviously have to be resolved as well. If you don’t take care of the day to day, you won’t be there for the customer anyway. You have to find balance! Balance is only found in a well thought out, implemented and integrated plan. The plan has to not only address your vision for 3-5 years out, but how everyone on your team interacts every day should be integrated into that plan. It is a process that will change your results immediately. Integration is the key component, but is so often not even on the radar.
These things are all true. Running the business is a priority, but basing the strategy that is centered on customers is critical. You can get lost in the “forest” if you aren’t careful. Taking the time to “sharpen the saw” as Dr. Stephen Covey explains in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People is an important step. He discusses the idea that if two lumberjacks go into the forest to cut as many trees down as they can. They both spend the same amount of time in the forest, but one cuts wood all day long. Never stopping to rest or nourish himself while the second lumberjack cuts wood, rests, nourishes himself and sharpens his saw before he returns to work. Which of these two cuts the most wood that day?
Taking the time to “sharpen the saw” for a small business owner and their team might be the most important step to bring results that you desire. It doesn’t matter how fast or how hard we are working day in and day out if we aren't getting the results we intend. We must look at the base of our thinking, planning, actions and results to find the little “tweaks” we need to adjust to transform our results. We get paid for results and hard work, but long hours that do not produce results, are not going to allow us to solve problems or improve our profitability. We must revisit our strategy at its base.
Strategy is never a waste of time, but when we are simply going through the motions, we don’t do a deep dive into the issues and customer focus needs for strategy development. Good and authentic strategy development is not complicated, but it is methodical in its approach when done correctly. Brainstorming and creativity are snuggled in the middle of the process and preceded by good information and data gathering from our customers and other stakeholders. We then get creative when we work to find new and better ways to identify our customer and their needs and expectations.
Effective strategy will focus on the goals, objectives and methods of the business. Invest in your strategy. It will yield results. Remember the saying from one of my favorites, T. Harv Eker, “What you focus on expands.” Focus on your strategy and focus on your results. You will be glad that you did.