Monday, November 5, 2012


It's November. Halloween has passed, we've turned the clocks back and daylight hours are fading fast.

In other words, it's that time when a business owner's thoughts turn to planning.  Our TAB members are working on securing this year's successes and focused on defining their priorities for 2013.  Happily, most of our businesses have seen gains this year, as is the case with many owners who are part of a knowledge-sharing group.

While each business plans in a way that is unique to it, I have found that the ones that are most successful in achieving their goals share some common approaches:  they focus on fewer, but very specific goals; they set hard targets and timelines; and they lead their organizations to the achievement of the goals without doing the work themselves.

When leading planning discussions, I like to start with three baseline questions:
  • What are your three priorities for 2013?
  • What resources do you need to achieve them?
  • What do you need to stop doing to make them happen?

That last question is usually the stumper.  Many business owners -- and a vast majority at certain stages -- feel that their direct, continuous involvement is critical to the achievement of organizational goals.  And that is certainly true, up to a point.  Once an business has reached a certain size, however, the owner often becomes the becomes the bottleneck to growth.

Getting past the "I do it better/best syndrome" is one of the keys to unlocking the potential of your business.  You must continually shed tasks by delegating them and teaching your employees the what and why of the goal rather than focus on how to achieve it (hint: it may not be the way you'd do it.)

Many business owners, especially ones in family businesses, haven't had formal training in management or organizational development, so they are not good at it (they haven't been trained), are  are distrustful of it (they tried it once and it didn't work), or view it as a cost, rather than an investment.

Big mistake.  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result may be the definition of insanity; it's also a symptom of a stuck business (and business owner.)

As you proceed with your plan for 2013, plan for doing less yourself by focusing less on tasks and more on coaching your organization.  If you remove the remove yourself as the bottleneck to growth, you might just achieve your champagne wishes.

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