Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur taxpayers own.
If you’re familiar with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” you’ve probably only heard the TL version; DR. Here is the full version:
A dream written with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.
That is why your plan is not going to be enough. A plan itself is just a piece of paper or a bunch of 0’s and 1’s that make up words. Fortunately, I’ve had experience with business failure and success (more of the latter), and these are the five things I focus on to turn my plans into reality.
Related: Planning to grow your business? Five tips that can help you
Focusing on one main goal per quarter is crucial. As much as we like to brag that we can multitask, we can’t. When was the last time you saw a population that throws 10 balls into the air and catches them before they hit the ground? Exactly. A much better skill is learning to take all the tasks at hand and realizing which one will have the biggest impact.
More specifically, the internal transparency of the company. Does your team understand company finances? Do they understand what a consumption rate is and that income does not mean that you are profitable? Internal company transparency means educating your team on how a business works and bringing them into the inner circle that used to be reserved only for leadership. If you add stock options on top of that, you can trigger an ownership mindset that makes your team your partner.
Now that your team has become your partner in success (and failure), they are held to a different standard, and being accountable is key. There may be 3-10 people responsible for a priority (remember, only one per quarter), but there is one person at the helm, or what I call the champions, who makes sure everyone does what they need to do. However, this person needs to understand something. They are not “the boss”. Many times when someone is given this kind of responsibility, he believes that he can only bark orders and only take credit when he succeeds and blame others for “not listening” when he fails. That is not the case. Responsibility goes both ways.
Related: 5 Keys to Promote Accountability in Your Business
This is probably the most difficult part of the process. Your company is only as good as its weakest employee. When you’re small (less than 50 employees), you can’t afford to hold hands; either you find a team that learns quickly or one that already has experience. Once again, I suggest the latter. You’ll thank me later. Understand that salary will be your biggest investment and you should treat it like that: an investment.
Contract Quick and shoot fast, especially if you are smaller. Yes, I know this isn’t the usual battle cry (“Hire slow…”), but you have to realize that a day in the life of a growing small business is like a month for an established company. You must trust your instinct or someone else’s when hiring. I also strongly suggest that you set expectations with new hires so they understand that they are on a trial period and need to step up. This may seem harsh, but as you get older, you can be a little more forgiving and mentor with a softer touch.
5. Stay healthy
It is important to stay healthy financially, physically and mentally. Create an environment that supports the importance of all three. Physical and financial are usually easier concepts to understand and fix (I said easier, not easy), but mental is a tough nut to crack. Just saying there is an open door policy is great and it needs to be said, but sometimes that’s not enough. Keep in mind that the time you spend doing one thing, say, focusing on revenue, often prevents you from focusing on the well-being of your employees. Finding the balance sometimes isn’t worth it when you’re younger, but it should definitely be on the table as you get older and can afford to implement a mental health monitoring system.
Related: Keys to planning smart business growth
Did you notice a trend here about plans? There was only one point that spoke directly to taking action, and the rest was helping others to be effective in their duties, which Antoine’s quote has always made me think of. I always wanted to add the following…
But remember, a dream is nothing without someone to cherish it with you.
Without your equipment running smoothly, a plan cannot take action. And if you really want to succeed, you’re not going to do it yourself. You do not agree?