Around this time of year, back in to the throws of business as usual, I hear from business owners who are feeling disappointed. They kick-started the year with all the best intentions to be; “different”, “motivated”, “prepared to make changes”, “learn from the mistakes of last year”, and yet rarely do things stick when the day-to-day continues to get in the way.
The complaints I hear are similar; ‘lack of control’, ‘frustrated with people’, ‘little to no profit’, ‘feeling stuck’, or ‘constantly having to fire-fight’. Most have a feeling that their business is controlling them, instead of the other way around – and most of all, they’re not getting what they want.
If you want to see your business consistently run better and grow faster, make a start by answering these 8 questions with your leadership team, create a clear picture of where your company is going, and the plan for what you will do to achieve it:
- What Are Your Core Values?
“Who are we as a company?”. “What matters most to us?”, “What makes us gel together as a group of people and creates a cohesive way of thinking, acting and behaving?”. Uncovering and defining your Organisational Core Values continues to be paramount to building, maintaining, and enduring with a cohesive, functional, healthy culture where we are able to enjoy spending time in the company of others around us. These small set of essential & timeless guiding principles (3-7 Values) help us understand our expectations of each other in the business. As always, less is more, and when they are clear, you’ll find they attract like-minded people to your organisation.
- What is Your Core Focus?
“What do we do and why do we do it?” . “As a company, What are we?”, “What is our sweet spot?”, “Why do we care?”. By uncovering and defining your Core Focus (the combination of your ‘Purpose/Cause/Passion’ and your ‘Niche’), then sticking to it, you can devote all your time and resources to excelling at it. Many companies try to do too many things and end up spread thinly, getting mediocre results, and burning out. Decide what business you are in – and be in that business; where you are most efficient, most effective, most profitable, and also where it is most fun.
- What is Your Ten-Year Target?
“Where are we going?” . What is the overarching, exciting, aligning, and driving business goal for your company? By identifying what you want your organisation to be in the future, you can then excite and align everyone around getting there. Being somewhere between 5-30 years out, this is commonly referred to as your BHAG (“Big Hairy Audacious Goal” – quoting Jim Collins). You may not know ‘how’ you’re going to achieve it, and yet we will figure that out on the journey, one quarter at a time! The idea here is that we create the focal point for everyone in the company to direct their time, effort, and energy towards, to make it a reality.
- What is Your Marketing Strategy?
“How will we get there?” . This is where you get to choose ‘how’ you will achieve your big goal. Start by identifying your ideal customer (Your Target Market) and then choose to do more business with them. Put yourself in control of who you work with, over letting them choose you. Clarify the message that is most attractive to them, show them how you hold their hand to deliver success through your ‘Proven Process’, and seal the deal with a powerful guarantee, promise, or pledge – and you will find that you improve your sales and close ratios with the right kind of customer.
- What is Your Three-Year Picture?
“What will we be in 3 years?”. When you are clear on who you are, what you are, where you’re going, and what marketing strategy you’re going to use to get there, it is time to get into a little more detail. By painting a picture of what your organisation looks like in the future (in 5-15 simple bullet point statements), you will help your team to accomplish two things. Number 1; is that you will all share the same vision of the future company in your mind’s eye – and number 2; you will all begin to work towards it – even in ways you won’t be conscious of.
- What is Your One-Year Plan?
“What we will achieve this year?”. Now we have the Three-Year Picture clear, you are able to bring your vision down to the ground, execute it, and make it real. We do this by setting a One-Year Plan for the company. Simply stated, these are the 3-7 most important company goals for the year that will have the biggest impact on driving the Three-Year Picture. Not a list of all of the many things we are trying to get done, simply a laser focus on the most important, most impactful goals that will help us be a better, simpler, faster, stronger company.
- What Are Your Quarterly Rocks?
“What is our focus for the next 90 Days”. Once your goals for the year are documented, we set to achieving them by breaking them down in to manageable chunks (‘Rocks’ as defined by Dr. S. Covey). In order to prevent procrastinating on our Goals, we focus purely on the 3-7 most important things we want to get done in the next 90-days that help us achieve our One-Year Plan. Doing so, allows us to retain a laser-focus on achieving the high impact priorities and complete on the projects that drive our yearly goals, whilst enabling us to say ‘No’ to all the other things that distract us from achieving our vision.
- What Are Your Issues?
“What is in the way of us achieving our vision?” . Spending time identifying the obstacles, barriers, and opportunities standing in the way of you achieving your vision, is the first step to solving them. The sooner you create a culture that is open and honest about (and even celebrate) your issues, the sooner we will be able to solve them for the long term and the greater good. After all of the issues are in the open, it’s like therapy when you can add them to a list and then take a systematic approach to regularly solving them, taking them away for ever. Your ability to succeed in delivering your vision, is in direct proportion to your ability to solve your issues. Great companies are simply great at solving their problems.
By simply (and yet, not necessarily easily) answering these 8 questions with your leadership team, you will have a single shared vision that you can take to the entire company. Once the team are also able to share that vision through your repetition and consistency, you will be able to focus all of the organisations time, efforts, and energy in one clear direction. Enabling you to deliver fantastic results for the company and help you to get what you want from your organisation.
These 8 key questions are taken from the Vision/ Traction Organiser™ (V/TO™) one of the foundational tools of the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. EOS® is a simple set of practical tools that is used by tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and leadership teams worldwide to clarify, simplify and achieve their vision.
Dean is the MD of Grow or Die, helping entrepreneurs and leadership teams to realise their company’s full potential as a Certified EOS® Implementer in the UK.
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