A Blog For
For Small Business Owners and Leaders
One of the best ways to begin thinking about your organization’s long-term strategy is to start with a simple statement: “We believe….”. It’s eye-opening to clearly outline the organization’s fundamental beliefs – why you are in business, what challenges you see in the world, and how you plan to solve them.
I firmly believe that a big, bold vision is what motivates people. Telling your team that five years from now your organization will look pretty much the same as it is today, serve pretty much the same customers – even though the need and/or the market is growing – is pretty much NOT motivating. Your employees will do basically the same things they do today. You will not attract big investment or donor dollars. You will NOT see excitement in the marketplace. You probably won’t attract those massively talented people you want.
If you and your company have outlined a solid strategic plan and it seems to be moving at a glacier’s pace (or worse), you need to figure out why. Here are some of the biggest issues I’ve seen (and some ideas on how to beat them). Think about these and see if you as the leader are experiencing any of them:
So, your business has been successful and you want it to continue growing. Who doesn’t? But you should know that there are a number of pitfalls most growing businesses run up against. Some are things you can foresee and some are not. And many of them can be significant enough to derail your company’s growth – or even kill it completely. Here are just a few of the challenges you will probably face as your organization grows.
How many times have we approached a situation with expectations, read the signals around us, and then just lost it when our expectations and the signals we read don’t match with reality. Are we able to adjust? Are we able to get the results we want by taking a different path? Sometimes we are so married to having things go a particular way that any variation throws us off. We give up. We panic. We freak out. We shut down. As a leader, you have to read the signs around you…and then adjust your approach as needed.
I believe we should all trust our intuition more than we do. I’m not suggesting we make reckless decisions. I’m saying listen to the inputs and the advice and in the end make the decision that just feels right. And, yes, sometimes that will go against the market research or go against what brilliant (ahem) strategists might advise you to do. More often than not you will make the right decision. Trust yourself more often.
Entrepreneurship and small-business ownership is glamorous, right? Well…..sure….ummmm……..more often than not. OK, let’s just say it and get it out in the open. Sometimes running your small business can be a real challenge. The glamor of day-to-day business – selling, churning out products, making deliveries, and (maybe our fave!) doing the accounting – is not lost on you! So, who can blame us if every once in a while we need a little jumpstart? More than your daily venti latte can deliver. We need excitement. Something to be enthusiastic about. We need something to get our (business) motors running again.
One of my favorite definitions of “strategy” is “Strategy is the creation of forced choices“. I thought this was a wonderful way to describe it. Properly developing a strategy does mean that we are choosing a path and it does mean we are giving up other things. And that’s the beauty of it! Too often I see organizations work without a strategy for many reasons (or excuses). Let’s not be afraid to be more targeted and not try to serve everyone.
Visualizing the future. A waste of time. Can’t be done. What’s the point? Do these sound familiar? I hear them all the time. And I completely disagree. In my 20+ years of being a management consultant, a business advisor, and an entrepreneur I have found that organizations that take the time to develop a clear, concise long-term vision typically find that the benefits far outweigh the investment.
When you implement a customer feedback system it’s critical to look for these types of disincentives or areas that could lead to false, misleading, or incomplete information. Or if you have a process already in place you need to look at it critically and identify where problems might lie. Here are some ideas to make sure that your customer feedback is not being unduly influenced.