One of the most difficult things for a business owner to do is to constantly grow. We come into our businesses with certain skills and abilities and that works for a time. The business gets up and running, grows to a certain point, and then plateaus. This isn’t necessarily a problem if the business is producing what you want it to. Though the problem can be that the competitive landscape we are all operating in is changing rapidly. In other words, if we don’t change, grow and evolve as business owners and leaders, the rest of the world will and eventually we will find ourselves with declining businesses because the world (and our customers) move on.
In the most practical terms, how do you stay ahead of this constantly changing game we are playing?
I’ve been thinking a lot about that in my own life and in my business endeavors and I offer three tips that might be worth looking at.
Start from the operating assumption that nothing is a given. Meaning your year this year is not necessarily a multiple of last year – no matter your trajectory. This means you must interrogate your operating plan every 6 months. Why are you so certain what you’re doing now is going to work in the future? Are you prepared for changes in your industry? How might you handle them? Many entrepreneurs are optimists, so this doesn’t necessarily feel good, but it’s important to ask tough questions so you’ve at least thought through and might even have plans for large scale change.
Think who, not what. I’ve come to the very humble realization over the years that while I’m brilliant in some areas, I’m most certainly not in others and most businesses require a large scope of expertise to run effectively. If you’ve been in your business for 5 years or more, you’re probably at the outside of what you can bring to it. The next increment of change will not likely come by you working harder or you working smarter, but by you bringing in another person whose brain and focus brings things to the next level.
As the business owner, you must allocate a significant amount of time to being outside of the business long enough to evaluate it, learn from others, and constantly cast the vision of the future. If you find yourself in the weeds, day after day, month after month, you’re suffocating your business by not supplying it with the much-needed leadership it requires to stay on a solid course for the future. Figure that out, your business and the people you care about are depending on you to do so.