Here’s the good news about you and your business: the potential that you can see and feel in the odd quiet moment is real. It exists. It’s not a pipe dream. You can create a business that can be sold for that figure you’ve always had in your head. It’s doable.
However, like a rough diamond buried in the ground, it’s not going to reveal itself without some digging and polishing.
What do you need to be working on heading into 2016?
Here are 5 of the most important issues:
1. Execution Capability
The only way to make your business successful is to execute on your good ideas. Ask yourself a few questions:
How many times have you attended a conference or workshop and heard something brilliant?
How many times have you been able to turn that something brilliant into an idea that works within your business?
If you are like most businesses the number for the first question is much larger than the number for the second.
Yes, you have to have a plan. But more importantly you need to be able to put it into action and that’s the core skill for any business owner. As the saying goes, “business is 10% strategy and 90% execution”.
Every week it’s important that you spend time solving issues. Businesses that solve issues move forward.
2. Taking Baby Steps
It’s super cool to read about an entrepreneur who has transformed the world in a jiffy. Good for them. However, the old adage that overnight success takes about 15 years still holds true for most of us.
It’s not the 15-year time frame that guarantees success, it’s what you are doing with it. Success in any sphere seems to occur miraculously in others, but it’s just not true. Behind any success story there are hours, months and years of graft.
The key is focusing on the incremental improvements. From time to time you might have a major breakthrough, but, after the quick wins have been captured, new growth comes from walking your idea forward in baby steps week after week.
That requires patience and understanding on the part of the business owner and let’s be honest, for most entrepreneurs, patience isn’t their strong suit. They’re good at generating ideas, but often pretty poor at the follow through. They get bored if something doesn’t succeed in two weeks.
The truth is to go larger and to create your saleable asset is going to require small but regular improvements in how things are done within your business.
3. Addressing The Issues Others Don’t Want To Address
In my work with business owners this one certainly plays a big part in separating the best from the rest. Those that succeed are prepared to deal with the tough issues that others won’t/can’t. What are some of those issues?
a.) Getting the right team in place – Sometimes this involves difficult decisions that affect people’s lives. That’s about as tough as it gets unless you’re a sociopath. However, you’re running a business. That’s what real leadership is all about. What you’ll find is that taking the tough decisions actually frees everyone up to do what they’re best at; even the people that might have to leave your firm.
b.) Accepting change as a given – Buddhists believe that all suffering stems from attachment to things. I believe that all suffering in business stems from being attached to the status quo. It’s true that for human beings change is hard. However, those that embrace the constant need to be changing and improving reap the rewards.
c.) Personal growth – The handbrake to success for all owner-operators is themselves. To grow your business you have to grow yourself. As you reach each new level of success, another challenge pops up that, to be honest, you’re often not equipped to deal with. The only way onward is through. You can rarely sidestep these personal growth issues. However, if you’re up for the challenge then the rewards (personally, professionally and financially) are immense.
4. Only Do, What Only You Can Do
Barry Horner, Chief Executive Officer of Paradigm Norton, made this point in his 10 Questions For… piece he did for us earlier in the year. It’s great advice, yet how many of us truly embrace and adopt it?
Getting business owners to let go of stuff that other people could do is one of the biggest challenges I come up against in my consulting work. Everyone accepts the logic, but very few can take the steps to let go. However, it’s eminently doable, so don’t let that stop you.
Tracey Underwood, Managing Director at DB Wood Ltd, did an exercise with a group of adviser-owners at one of my courses recently. She asked them to list all of the things they do or are involved in within the business. She then listed other team members like advisers, paraplanners and administrators, and asked the owners to see which of their current tasks might be able to move away from them to one of the team. What a revelation!
If you added in some other support options, such as a Virtual Assistant (or Personal Assistant), a bookkeeper, HR consultant, report writers etc., you could really start to free yourself up.
I often get owner-advisers to do this another way, by listing the things that only they can do in the business. What you find is it’s a very short list. It will include things like rainmaking activity, seeing the top 20 or 30 clients, and setting business strategy. For most, that’s about it. Everything else can be handed off to someone who can not only do it, but do it better than you.
That might include things like:
- reading, sorting and replying to your emails
- booking meetings
- managing the business
- managing the business finances
- dealing with HR issues
When you start to get serious about doing what only you can do it changes everything.
5. Working Smart … Not Hard
Building a business is a creative enterprise. Creatives don’t work 14 hours a day and 52 weeks per year. They understand that to be creative requires time, space and energy. I covered this in a blog recently. You’ve got to refill the well otherwise it runs dry.
The day you decide to stop working hard and start working smart is the day you’ll start to really achieve. Working smart can often mean stalling briefly or feeling like you are on pause, while you solve a problem within your business. However, solving problems rather than just working around them is the magic that takes you forward.
Be a belligerent ‘so-and-so’ when it comes to any problems you identify. Deal with them. They can be seemingly small issues, but if they’re causing you grief then fix them. If you find yourself working long hours, or taking forever to process certain types of work fix the underlying problem. Even if it takes you a large amount of time, the payback for a problem solved goes on forever.
There’s a wide range of issues I could write about in an article like this one. However, these five are the ones that I see the great firms really fronting up to.
You can build the business you’ve always envisaged, but you’ve got to be working on the important, not just the urgent.