How many assumptions do you make about your business on a regular basis? Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- I’m pretty sure I’m on track to meet my goals this quarter.
- It feels like my numbers are about the same as they were last year.
- I haven’t gotten any red alert notices from my bank, so I assume my financials are fine.
- It seems like my clients are happy with the work I’m doing.
- I’m pretty sure my employees are doing the work I’ve asked them to do.
Running your business on assumptions is a dangerous game. If you’re assuming everything is okay, you’re letting yourself off the hook. You need to stop assuming and start knowing.
So, what’s it going to take for you to know that your business is on track to meet your goals, rather than just continuing to assume you’re going to make it?
Ask yourself the following questions:
What do I need to track?
Consider the most important metrics in your business: financials, sales, new clients, referrals, or whatever it is that usually brings you the most growth. Remember these metrics don’t have to be “typical” measures, they just need to be drivers of your goals. Those are the metrics you need to be tracking regularly.
What are my goals for each of those metrics?
Once you know what to track, set a goal for each one. Pick a goal that you can meet within the next quarter, so that it will be easier to track and you’ll see results in a shorter amount of time.
How often do I need to track these things?
You want to track each area often enough that you can see progress when it happens or catch problems when they occur. However, the balance to that is that you don’t want to track so often that it seems like you’re not making any progress at all, because that can be disappointing. (Think of it like weight loss: if you measure your weight every day it can be difficult to see progress, so once a week is a more reasonable time frame.) So this might be daily, weekly or monthly.
How will I hold myself accountable?
You need to hold yourself accountable for actually tracking the metrics, but also for reaching your goals. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be used consistently and deliver the information you need. Celebrate the wins and if you notice a backslide in any particular area, make sure that you take the time to work on that area and don’t just let it continue to falter.
How will I hold others accountable?
Some of the areas you’ll want to track may fall under the responsibility of other people who work for your business. If one of your employees isn’t meeting their goals, it’s your job to hold them accountable for that and also to support them in making corrections. If it comes to it, it may also become your job to let them go if they’re consistently not meeting your expectations.
You are the CEO of this business; if you don’t hold yourself accountable for meeting your goals, how can you expect the other people who work for you to do the same? So you probably need to have a few metrics to track too. Stop guessing, start knowing, and don’t hold back on keeping everyone accountable for meeting the goals you’ve set for your business.
If you need a little help in this area, accountability is my specialty! I work with CEOs to hold them accountable for doing the work that’s going to bring them the results they’re after. I won’t sugar-coat things, but I will give you options, advice, and support when you need it. If that sounds like something you need, click here to schedule a call and learn more about the Operations Engine, my group coaching program for CEOs who are ready to be accountable for their goals.
How long have you been the only person working in your business? Even if you have a few other people working with you, if you’re the one doing all the heavy lifting, it may be time to re-evaluate a few things.
You can’t keep making things up as you go, changing to meet every new challenge, and adapting to every curveball if you want to have a successful business. If you’ve had a series of “make it work” moments in your business lately, it’s time to take a step back and fix that.
Get Clear on Your Role
If you’re looking to grow your business, then you need to think of yourself as the CEO, not a solopreneur, not the sole proprietor. You can’t keep handling everything by yourself, because you’ll be spending so much time working IN your business that you won’t have any time or energy left over to work ON your business.
First, identify all the tasks in your business that truly require the work and talent of a CEO: those are now your tasks; everything else can be given over to someone else. If you’ve already got contractors or employees working for you, talk to them about expanding their role in the company. If they aren’t the right folks for the job, or if you need more people to accomplish all of those tasks, it’s time to start the hiring process. Bring on as many new team members as you need to in order to give yourself the time to truly step into your role as the CEO of this company.
Get Clear on Your Vision
If your brain feels like a browser with too many tabs open, chances are you’re pursuing too many goals at once. Choose just ONE goal at a time, and put all your energy into achieving that goal. If you try to chase too many goals at once, you’ll never really get all the way to achieving any of them; narrowing your focus means that you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more in the long run.
If you feel like you don’t have the time or the headspace to sit down and get clear on your vision, go back and read that last section again, because that probably means you need to hire more help.
Communicate Your Vision
You have a team, and you have a vision: now it’s time to put those two things together. One quick caveat: everyone in your business doesn’t need to have a detailed knowledge of your entire vision. However, each person in your business probably does need to know specific parts of that vision. Start by distilling your mission and vision into one short statement, no more than a paragraph. Share that with everyone in the company, so that they can help you achieve that vision and represent it as they work in your company. Then, think about the people who might need even more information and what that would look like. Your accountant or CFO, for instance, needs more details on your financial goals. Your right-hand guy or gal probably needs a bigger or more detailed vision plan. Your social media person needs to understand how to paint the picture of your company online. Give each person the information they need, but don’t muddy the waters for them by giving them too much.
The last step in communicating your vision is just to make sure that everyone on your team knows specifically what their role is in helping you carry out your goals. What jobs do they need to do, what’s their area of expertise, what are their tasks, and when do they defer to someone else? Communicating these roles clearly will help your team run like a well-oiled machine.
Hold Everyone Accountable
If you have clearly communicated the roles and tasks for everyone in your company, the next step is to regularly check in on their progress. Schedule time for an annual review (or more frequent, if you think that would help) for every employee. Check in on their performance, give and receive feedback on how things are going for them, and set goals for the next year. As needed, during these reviews you may discover that it’s time to let someone go, or to hire some new people to help balance out the workload or take on new tasks.
Remember, as the CEO you’ve got to hold yourself even more accountable than everyone else. The buck stops with you, and that means you also need to check in with yourself. Evaluate your own performance, make sure you’re doing everything you need to be doing (and not avoiding the tasks you find uncomfortable or unpleasant), and drive the ship that is your business. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, you can’t expect your team to follow you.
If you feel like you could use some help in this process, I’d love for you to join the Operations Engine. It’s full of business owners who are working on transitioning to the role of CEO, and it includes guidance and help along the way from me and from the other members of the group. Growth can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself: click here to schedule a call and learn more.
When you first started your business, you were probably the only person working in that business. You had to learn to be the “Jack of All Trades” in order to get your business off the ground and keep it running. This is a solid way to start a business, but at a certain point if you haven’t transitioned out of this situation, your business isn’t going to grow.
It’s time to start thinking of yourself as the CEO of your business, and acting accordingly.
Get Clear on Your Vision
As the CEO of your business, you need a clear vision: a mission statement that details what your business does, who it serves, and where it’s going. If you don’t have a vision, then you’re just treading water, and you aren’t going to gain any momentum.
If it has been a while since you thought about your vision for your business, it may be time to revisit that. Think about what you really want from your business, and actually write down your big-picture vision. Post it somewhere that you will see it often, but also make sure to share it with your team.
Identify the Roles in Your Business
As part of your vision, think about how many roles your business needs to have in order to function properly and keep moving toward your goals. (It’s important to note that a role isn’t the same as a person; for some roles, you may have several people doing them, and for others you may have one person covering several roles.)
If you have been carrying too many of those roles yourself, it’s time to delegate them to someone else. Get clear about what you want out of your role as the CEO, and put everything else on someone else’s To Do list. As the CEO, you should primarily be your business’s leader, its overseer, and its driving force. You should not be your business’s “muscle,” doing every single task that comes through.
Now is also a good time to evaluate whether you have the right people fulfilling the right roles in your business. If not, it may be time to hire some new folks or let others go.
Communicate with Your Team
Once you have a clear vision and a solid idea of the roles that need to be filled, it’s time to make sure that everyone else on your team understands those things as well. You don’t have to have actual employees for this, though one day that should probably be your goal. For now, if you have independent contractors working for you, make sure they understand the vision you have for your company and their role in bringing that vision to life.
Here are some examples:
- Your accountant probably doesn’t need a deep understanding of your full vision, but they do need to know your financial goals so that they can make recommendations to help you reach them.
- Your assistant needs to have a firm grasp on the vision for your company so that they can help you stay true to that vision in the day-to-day tasks of the business.
- If you have more than one person in an assistant-like role, each one needs to understand the breakdown of tasks they are responsible for and who they report to on a daily basis.
- Your ghost writer or content creator needs a clear idea of the big picture so that they can communicate that with every new piece they create for you.
- Your webmaster needs to understand your goals so that they can make sure that your website is optimized to help you reach those goals.
As you look at your business with an objective lens, are you really doing the work of a CEO, or are you still playing around in “Jack of All Trades” territory? If you need some help getting clear on your vision, your team, and the roles your business probably needs to have, click the link below to book a call with me. Sometimes an outside perspective is all you need to get clear and then start taking action to align your business’s reality with your vision for it.
CLICK HERE TO CHAT WITH ME
If you’ve been feeling like your business is a little bit chaotic or scattered, it’s time to get some consistency. A significant factor in the success of any business is having consistent processes; not only will this increase productivity, it also improves your relationships with clients or customers and gives you a clear path to growing your business. The regular processes in your business need to be streamlined in order to be efficient and productive.
Here’s how to get there:
1. Figure out what you’re already doing well.
Being more consistent isn’t about finding a whole new way of running your business; it’s about capitalizing on what you’re already doing. You already have a product or service that you offer to every person who comes into contact with your business. Figuring out HOW you deliver that product or service is the first step to consistency. If you’ve been trying different ways of doing this, pick the one that has worked the best for you and your customer and go from there.
For example: Let’s say you have a business that involves 1-on-1 consulting sessions. Some of your former clients have sent you an e-mail, and you’ve gone back and forth with your separate calendars, trying to figure out a time that works to meet. Maybe during that process you’ve even wound up giving away quite a bit of free advice, to the point where some clients have walked away without booking a session. Another time, you tried using a shared calendar app, and booking that appointment was a smooth process that led to a successful consulting appointment. Tha shared calendar app needs to be your process from now on, with every client.
2. Stop making exceptions.
If you want to grow your business, you can’t offer a unique product or service to every customer. You need to reduce the variables between customers so that you can streamline your systems and create consistency. If you have been creating a custom package for every customer, instead try offering some options like add-on packages or a limited number of custom choices. This way you can give your customers a product that feels personalized, but you don’t have to start from scratch every time.
For example: Let’s say you have a business selling t-shirts. When you first started, maybe you would design anything on a shirt that a customer wanted. Now that your business has grown to a certain level, it makes more sense to choose your 10 most popular designs and only offer those, on a limited number of t-shirt colors. You will be able to sell more shirts because you can produce them more efficiently, but having those choices still makes your customers feel like they are getting a unique product when they come to your shop.
3. Refine and perfect your systems over time.
Just because you’re working on consistency doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself into a situation that never changes. As you go through this process of repeating your systems with consistency, you are naturally going to find ways to refine those processes and make them more streamlined. Take note of this, and be willing to adapt your processes over time. This will only add to your overall efficiency.
For example: If you run a business that involves packing and shipping a physical product, your method of shipping may change over time. You may have started with a regular home printer and the USPS website, but over time you may discover that you could outsource your shipping to a third party and free up more of your time to do other tasks. There’s no need to stick to a system that no longer works for you – this is an opportunity to build new consistency into your business.
4. Document your systems as you get comfortable.
If you’re stuck in your business, it’s often that you’re wasting time trying to remember all the things you need to do, or reinventing the wheel every time you do them. Documenting the processes can help you take those tasks off your mental load now, and also assign them to someone else later. Doing this will help you eventually hand off those tasks to someone else, such as an employee or an independent contractor. This is what makes it possible for you to scale, because you have processes that can expand to serve a bigger audience and you can hire employees to do them over time.
For example: A task management app like Trello or Asana can be a good place to document the steps in your processes, but you can also just use a Word or Google doc to accomplish the same thing. The idea is just to get your process down in writing, so that you can eventually hand that To Do List over to someone else, and stop giving it prime real estate in your own head.
5. Get help from an outside source.
It’s often hard to identify your consistent business processes internally – you have gotten so comfortable with doing all the work of your business that you don’t even realize what you’re doing most of the time. Figuring out systems is one of my stronger gifts, and I still struggle with it within my own business. It’s hard to DIY this process, but it’s also hard to hire someone to do it entirely for you. The best solution is to hire someone to work WITH you to identify and create these processes within your business. They can ask questions to get you started, and then also watch what you do as you complete your business tasks. Working together, the two of you can figure out your existing processes as well as ways to streamline them for more consistency.
If you’re wondering whether consistent processes would improve YOUR business, it might be time to get some clarity. I have a free GEARS Assessment, which will walk you through the process of evaluating your business in five key areas in order to determine which areas would benefit from some improved consistency.
Click HERE for the free gears assessment to get clarity in your business and start leveraging the power of consistency.
Most of us have probably been in a situation where we worked with a group of people, and the project went well or terribly depending on the quality of the group leadership. In your business, whether you’ve got a company of 100, 10, or 1 – YOU are the leader. What’s the quality of that group’s leadership?
Do you think of yourself as a leader? If you’ve got the title of entrepreneur, CEO, or “wearer of all the hats,” you’re leading your company. It doesn’t matter how many people work for you – if you’re not in the regular habit of leading yourself, you won’t be able to lead anyone else, now or in the future.
What steps are you taking to become a better leader in your business? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Are you prepared for each day?
Do you regularly take time in the morning (or at the close of working time the night before) to prepare for your day? Do you have a list of tasks and one to three goals you want to accomplish each day? Do you know what absolutely must be done, what would be nice to accomplish, and what can be left off the list?
If your answer is NO, then take some time to think and plan at the start of tomorrow’s work day, and every day after that. Give yourself a list of no more than 3 tasks that must be accomplished, and set an intention for how you want that day to go. Establish this as part of your morning routine, and stick with it! You’ll be surprised how much more productive you are throughout the day when you’ve got a clear plan.
Do you regularly seek to improve?
Nobody ever got really good at something if they didn’t regularly strive to improve their skills, and the same holds true for running a business. As the leader of your business, you’ve got to start with improving yourself, and you’ve got to keep up the habit regularly. Read more business blogs or books (and apply the lessons you’re learning!), participate in webinars and online classes, go out and attend conventions or other events. There’s a ton of education available out there to help you get better at whatever you’re trying to improve, from marketing to operations to profit. Pick something and start learning! Put it on your calendar so that you’re setting aside time each week to learn something new.
Do you ask for feedback?
How do you know you’re good at something? Someone tells you! (The same is true for knowing if you’re not so good!). You can give yourself feedback by setting up regular times to review what’s working and what’s not in your business (once a month for a quick review and once a quarter for a longer one is a good rule of thumb). At these same intervals, it’s a good idea to get outside feedback, from employees, contractors, business advisers, consultants, and customers. Create a survey, send a quick email, give them a form to fill out, and ask them what you’re doing well and what could be improved. Then, the all-important next step is to follow up and make changes according to the feedback you receive.
What’s the very next step YOU will take in order to lead yourself toward improving your business?