pat-dolen-business-photo-2014

Aligning vision, people
and performance

Enter your email here to receive my weekly newsletter:
Connect

rssbookmarks

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

linked-logo

plaxo_logo1-300x95

facebook

Resolutions All Small Business Owners Should Make In 2014

The following guest post is by Jason Zickerman, president and CEO of The Alternative Board.

If the New Year was all about new beginnings, why is it that so many of us make the same old resolutions over and over? While renewing the long-expired gym membership or covering ourselves with a second skin of nicotine patches, we’re so high on hope that we’re completely blind to the other areas of our lives that could use a fresh perspective.

Maybe you’ve created a strategic plan in the past but just didn’t see the value. If that’s the case, take a new approach this year. Keep your focus narrow. Perhaps just focus on how your business is going to achieve your Commander’s Intent. Then, rather than creating a plan & filing it away somewhere, put an appointment on your calendar at least one time per month – preferably more often – to review how you’re doing against your plan. Share the plan with your staff. Taking the time to think through your strategies and tactics for achieving your business of the business and committing to getting it done will go a long way towards achieving your Personal Vision of Success.

  1. Create a Personal Vision of Success

    Every reputable business has a mission statement. It’s the message that lays out your principles and guides your actions. But how does your company’s mission statement align with your own goals? It’s hard to say until you’ve crafted your own personal vision of success.

    Think of your personal vision of success as the mission statement you’ll use to shape your own choices and strategies. Ask yourself what success means to you. Will you measure your success by how early you can retire, or how much money you get when you sell the business? Will you measure it by the number of influential products you’ve launched or jobs you’ve created? Will you know you’ve finally “made it” when you’re able to set up a scholarship foundation or fly your family around the world?

    There’s no “right” vision of success, but once you lay yours out in terms of concrete, measurable goals you’ll have a clearer focus and be able to align your business plans towards a greater purpose. That sense of purpose is powerful and you’ll be amazed at how it can transform your approach.

  2. Learn to Communicate the Commander’s Intent

    In the 1980s, the U.S. Army adopted a strategy which they came to call the “Commander’s Intent” (or CI). This system was created to cut down on needless communication, to save time and to make sure that every man in the field was focused on attaining the same objective. There’s a lot that entrepreneurs can learn from this method. In their book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath explain what a CI is and why it’s so effective:

    Commander’s Intent manages to align the behavior of soldiers at all levels without requiring play-by-play instructions from their leaders. When people know the desired destinations, they’re free to improvise, as needed, in arriving there.

    Just like war, commerce is unpredictable. Threats can change and previous plans can be rendered obsolete. That’s why it’s important to use your own kind of Commander’s Intent every time you communicate with your partners and employees. The goal here is to focus on the end destination, instead of the path one should take to get there.

    So in 2014, when you’re crafting a quarterly newsletter or sales strategy, try boiling down your ideas to one, clear and simple statement. Use a template like this one: “The single most important thing we must accomplish is ____.” Front-load each communication with your Commander’s Intent statement. When your intent is clear, your team will function more smoothly (and you may even find that they achieve goals in surprising, innovative ways).

  3. Revamp (or Create) Your Strategic Plan

    When was the last time you took a serious, critical look at your strategic plan? If you’re like most business owners, it’s probably long overdue. Luckily, the new year is a perfect time to think about your company’s goals and how you plan to achieve them.This year, take a new approach in analyzing your strategic plan. If you created your original plan with a few partners, try relying on an internal advisory board for a new perspective. If your advisory board updates your plan every year, hire a third-party advisor instead. And try focusing on areas you may not have honed in on in the past like, for example, the job descriptions and responsibilities of your top-tier employees.

    A recent survey found that 82% of entrepreneurs are working more than 40 hours per week, and many are putting in those hours in small doses by taking over responsibilities that should be delegated to other employees. Develop a strategic plan that clearly lays out expectations and goals for your execs and partners, and you may score more freedom for yourself and your schedule. Who wouldn’t like to shave off five or ten hours from their workweek? Implementing a solid strategic plan can help make that happen.

You don’t need to choose just one of these resolutions — to truly challenge yourself and improve your business, I’d recommend adopting all three. If you’re afraid of getting overwhelmed, tackle one at a time in the order they’re listed. Once you feel like you’ve truly changed your habits, stop back here and let me know the impact you saw on your business.

Comments are closed.

"Pat brings her charm, wit and insight into her advisory relationships and shares the same with her audiences. She's got the systems to back up her concepts."

- Frank Maguire FEDEX Senior Founding Executive

John Maxwell

tab21

Profiles Int'l