More than a year ago I ran a two-day “business excellence” retreat with the owners of 21 small to medium-sized businesses. Over the course of the workshop I helped them take a very hard, honest and realistic look at their businesses to discover their true strengths and weaknesses. As a takeaway from the workshop, each of them left with a list of three or four key areas to focus on in their business and a list of action steps that they planned to implement in the coming year.
We recently got the group back together to look at what they accomplished in the past year and set new goals and objectives for 2014. When I asked the participants what some of the most impactful things they did during last year were, almost the entire group said the same handful of key things:
- I upgraded my talent. After the workshop I went back to my business and realized I had some mediocre employees that were not truly delivering value to the organization. I let them go and took my time to replace them with top talent, which has made a world of difference in the success of my business.
- I figured out what to focus on. Before the workshop I had a hard time understanding the real priorities of my business, where the leverage was…but in the last year I figured out exactly where my business adds the most value, where I can get the most profit, and have the most fun – and that is where I’m focused now.
- I figured out what to stop. In the workshop I realized that I was doing an awful lot of work in areas that were not in my zone of expertise. I figured out the places where I add the most value to the organization, the things that ONLY I could do, and delegated away everything else – or simply stopped doing it altogether.
- We got much, much, much closer to the customer. After all of the audits and workshops, I realized that we had a done a pathetic job of “owning the voice of the customer.” In the last year we have used surveys, focus groups, meetings, client councils…everything we could think of to get closer to our customers, build strong relationships and understand them at a deep level. It has been a game changer!
So there you have it, a great list of four absolutely critical ideas to help you run a more successful business!