The navigational skills of the early seaman amaze me. Through thick fog and thunderous seas, they kept their small ships safely on course to their destination. Businesses likewise need clarity of direction to overcome obstacles and be successful. A business that is content to keep doing what they have always been doing will fail.

A common problem with small businesses is that the urgent overrules the important. The urgent are the day to day problems of a business that take all the owners’ and managers’ time. They squeeze out the important or strategic issues that make a business stronger. A business that is dominated by the urgent is frantic with activity, but going nowhere.

Jim Collins, in his research book Built to Last; http://www.jimcollins.com/books.html, identified a number of key attributes of great companies.

The first attribute was a clear core purpose. Even though these companies made plenty of money, that was not their core purpose. What motivates you to gladly get up in the morning to come to your business? What is it that your business does that you are passionate about? When the owners and key staff find common ground on this question it galvanises clarity and commitment.

The second major attribute Collins found was that these companies had a handful of core values they passionately held to. These values make it clear the behaviours that are expected, reducing the need for inefficient and demoralising micro-management. These values set the culture of the organisation and also guide decisions.

Core values are unique to an organisation. For example two of our values are communication and no silos. Once the core purpose and core values are agreed, the foundation is set for developing a strategy that will be embraced by the team.

Strategic plans focus on where you want the business to be in a specific time frame. There are many ways to do a strategic plan. I find the effective ones are the simple plans. My approach is to consider the broader trends that may impact your business or open opportunities. Then to focus on the main areas of the business: Market, Financial, Product/Services, and People. In each of these areas, you set a clear specific goal.

Under each area, you determine three or four high-value actions to achieve the goal. Strategic plans are about bringing change, rather than listing the normal things that are done.

A plan is not complete until it is executed. This works best when numbers of team members are willing to personally buy into the plan and take on the actions. Execution continues by keeping the plan front of mind by embedding the plan into the regular weekly and monthly meetings.

This approach keeps everyone focused on what is important. The whole team has the clarity to navigate toward the goals. Success is more likely to be achieved and profits and cash flow grow as a result.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your organisation have a clear strategy?
  • Would your team members be able to tell you what that strategy is?
  • Is your plan being consistently executed?

Published by Toowoomba Chronicle www.thechronicle.com.au on Saturday 5 November 2016

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