My wife’s department was recently “reviewed” by some peers. The result of the 2.5 day visit was a 53-page report with HUNDREDS of recommendations. None of these recommendations were prioritized, just simply listed one after another in each of ten plus categories.
After I closed my gaping jaw, I asked, “how are you supposed to prioritize all of these? They don’t give you any guidance on where to start”.
These folks give consultants a bad name. We have seen so many consultant reports over the years and most of them are spot on if you can wade through all the noise. The trouble with most of them is that, like this one, they don’t tell you where or how to start.
We see many small business owners who struggle to figure out what to do next as well. Most of them don’t have a big consultant report to wade through. They’re simply drowning in the day-to-day demands of running their business with dozens of things vying for their attention.
Over the last decade of growing our coaching business, we have pulled together a simple framework to guide the running of any organization. We apply this model to any organization we are involved with, whether it is for-profit or non-profit. We have identified the following 7 Keys to Success:
1. Vision: where will your organization be in 10 years? How much will your annual revenue be? How many employees and locations will you have? What will you be selling and who will you be selling it to? Will there be anyone else like you in the marketplace?
2. Profit Plan: most people refer to this as a “budget” which is a word we are working to get out of the business lexicon. Nobody likes being put on a budget! It’s a constricting, dusty, and tired concept. You are in business to make money. What would you like your Sales and Profit to be for the next 12 months? You’d be surprised how few small business owners can answer this simple question. Start with these broad goals first, then work to fill in the details.
3. Marketing Plan: how are all those sales you projected on the Profit Plan going to happen? Who is your Target Market? What Message do you want to deliver to them? How do you find more of them? Who will be doing what marketing activities to fill your sales pipeline?
4. Organization Plan: do you have a Functional Organization Chart broken into the 3 areas of Product/Service, Marketing/Sales, and Administration? Do you have job descriptions for those different functions and is someone assigned to each of those functions? Who should be the next hire or resource brought onto your team and why? How do you keep your team informed and engaged about the key things in your business?
5. Leadership Style (Extended DISC): one of the keys with any relationship is communication. We all have a natural behavior style that impacts how we do things and how we communicate. Each member of your team should understand their own DISC style and how to identify other people’s DISC styles to make themselves more effective.
6. 90-Day Cash Flow Forecast: do you know that your organization is going to have a positive cash balance for each of the next 90 days? You will sleep better at night if you do.
7. Presenting: how well do you Present the above six points? Can you confidently describe your business within the 3 areas of Product/Service, Marketing/Sales, and Administration? If so, you are nearly guaranteed success. If not, you are rolling the dice.
If you aren’t working on one of the 7 points above, chances are you are working on the wrong things as a business owner. So are you feeling good about how your company measures up to the above 7 Keys to Success?
Don’t worry if you don’t have it all under control. In fact, most business owners we meet have only a couple of these things in place, if any at all. If you plug every decision, challenge, opportunity, or problem into the above 7 points, you will always know what should be done next and how it will impact your organization.