Is that enough?

What are you doing this month to reinvent your business?  2018 is only just around the corner.  It’s kinda crept up on us, unobtrusively hiding itself in the shadows.  But the Christmas lights will soon bring it out of the shadows, and it could overwhelm you before you’ve prepared for battle. 

It is time to start thinking about what’s going to happen next year in and with your business?  Have you thought about it?  What do you hope to achieve.?  What profit are you planning on achieving?

If you don’t have an objective, you can’t be accused to failing to achieve it!  The business that has nowhere to go will get there!  But I’m sure that’s not really what you want.

So let’s start thinking about where you want to be at end of next year, and then we’ have a look at some basic steps you might want to take.  Now I’m not talking about a full-blown business plan, but rather a few practical steps that might make 2018 more of a path to the future, than a voyage into the unknown.

And we also have to look at the infrastructure you need to get there.

But first, what’s the ground you’re standing on like.  You can’t do a high jump from marshy ground.  You have to make sure of the ground you are launching from, before lifting off.

Do you really know, to a reasonable degree of accuracy, what the state of your business is at this very moment?  Is your business like that, you don’t know where you are, how you are travelling, or even whether you are heading in the right direction?

Without context, and a clear path to follow, it’s easy to feel like you are driving in the fog.  People need to see where they are, where they are going, and how they are going to get there, so they can relax.

Dr. Greg Chapman reckons “Understanding where your business is and where you want it to be is the first step in planning.”  I disagree.  That is two steps, not one.

You can’t properly address the “Where to” if you don’t know and understand the lift-off point.  Sound information; i.e. data plus analysis, is necessary if you want to set achievable goals, and know how you can realistically achieve them.

This dilemma I looked at in “Can you see the way ahead?”,

So to the next step:  Where to?

Where do you want to be by this time next year?  Is it profits? Cash in the bank? Market share?  Decimating the competition?  I can’t tell you that, but you can, whether it is dreaming in the early hours of the morning, or hard planning session with your team.

Do you want to turn your business into a profit machine, a profit machine that gives you the returns you seek, the payback you dreamt about when you started your business, the respect from your peers that say this bloke knows what he is on about, he knows what he is doing, he is a success?

There is a big difference between having a picture in your mind about what you want to achieve with your business and being able to translate that picture into words on a piece of paper.  I see it all the time when I run business planning workshops; getting small business owners to be clear on what they want to achieve with their business is difficult.

They toss around vague terms like “be profitable”, “success” and “being successful” with gay abandon.

But what do they really mean?  What is success?  How much profit?  By when?

One of the functions of a vision is a “guide to decision making”.  In fact, it is the foundation on which you base all other decisions.

The fastest and surest way to achieve you vision is to be able to think through that vision clearly and correctly, and write it down.  Articulate it.  Then you will make clearer and more useful decisions.

All the strategies and plans in the world won’t help if you have not laid the foundation for them with clarity on what you are trying to achieve.  So it is worth spending some time thinking it through and achieving that clarity.

Most people don’t.  They are even uncomfortable in trying to do so.  They come up with a form of words and move on to the more detailed work; specific goals to achieve that unclear vision, specific strategies to achieve those specific goals to achieve that unclear vision.  Some foundation!

No wonder so many small businesses flounder and go around in circles.  Their decision making is flawed from the start.  

There is a second facet to this issue, and that is if you have no clarity about where you are going, and what you are trying to achieve, then it is hard to identify what is holding you back.

And if you can’t identify what is holding you back, how then can you remove that impediment?

So how can you obtain that clarity?

There are three steps:

Step 1 - ask yourself these questions:

•    What kind of business do we want to be?

•    What will the business be like when we achieve the Vision?

•    What do we want people to say about us as a result of our work?

•    What values are most important to us?

•    What will be the key characteristics of my business in x years’ time?

Step 2 - Then, and this is designed to really loosen the shackles of the mind, undertake an ‘imaginary journalism’ exercise:  Imagine you are a journalist writing an article.  Create a story vividly describing the successes you and the business will have achieved at some future time two, three or five years from now.

Have a bit of fun with it; this is when you can write with jolly impulsiveness.  Liberate your hopes and dreams.

Step 3 - The hard work starts.  Convert that journalistic licence into a SMART vision.

Specific – the beginning of clarity.

Measurable – if you can’t measure it how will you know your progress to its achievement.

Achievable – What you are trying to achieve should be a stretch, after all its part of your dream, but dreams beyond reach fail to inspire for very long.

Relevant – you are in the wrong business if your vision is not related to the business you are in.   

Time-based – Hey, you want to achieve that ‘success’ but when?  

Remove the haze from what you are trying to achieve.  Clarity of your vision is your foundation for the future, leading to better decisions and helping you remove the impediments to your progress!

Do that, and you will be ready to turn the corner into 2018, so that next year is not just more of the same.

Have you clearly defined your Goals for the next 3 – 5 years?

When clients approach me for coaching, clients with businesses that are underperforming despite the crippling hours and effort the owner is putting into them, they are sometimes held back by lack of knowledge of what is possible.  A lack of focus of potential improvements leads to a lack of control over their business, and eight times out of ten that lack of control comes down to a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the business, and what their peers are achieving.

For more than 29 years I’ve been helping small business owners plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them understand where and how they may change their business to be a leader in profitability, productivity, and competitive advantage.  I assist you analyse:
•    The strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats of your business
•    Determine where you want to be – clear, achievable goals, and
•    How you are going to get there – strategies to achieve your goals

This is sometimes known as the NOW – WHERE – HOW model.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here.  

© Copyright 2017 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective  

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