“You manage things; you lead people.” ~ Grace Murray Hopper
Many of my clients have asked me, how do you keep yourself and your business moving forward to achieve small business success? I wish there were a simple answer, but it is complex and takes lots of focus.
Small businesses can find themselves kind of adrift at sea. I've created a strategy for myself, and for my team, that helps keep us focused, organized and moving the ball down the field. Ultimately, quarterly goals need to link to annual goals and so on.
To help explain my organization method, I broke it down into sections. It may seem like a lot, but it is takes hard work and dedication to be successful and attain set goals. Here we go…
The Stealth Creative leadership team develops long-term goals together. This helps get everyone involved with long-term goals and plans, and brings our team together to work together toward a common objective. These goals are usually focused around a growth goal, an employee goal or a set of financial goals. However, if you set goals and do nothing more to execute them, then nothing will ever happen.
“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” ~ Latin Proverb
I like to use the 6×6 execution, which I adopted from Bill Hybils’ book, Axiom. Each leader, including myself, has six goals to accomplish within six weeks. The important thing here is that everyone’s 6×6 have be interlocked; so we're all pushing the ball uphill together.
This can be tricky, but in my opinion, this works as a lever to really accelerate the organization. We truly work together to achieve these goals. We ask ourselves: “What should we do if we did nothing else?” An example of this would be onboarding a new substantial client.
Every Sunday I carve out some time so that I can review and prepare for my upcoming week. Once I figure out everything that needs to be done that week, I put it on my calendar; this helps me to remember the vast amount of tasks I need to finish. I set a plan of action for the week, because a goal without a plan is just a dream.
I plan Stealth’s weekly staff meeting and prepare my agenda. One of the things I always do in our weekly staff meetings is to celebrate the successes and learn from our failures. What would we tweak if we could do that thing again? How would we do it differently if given a second chance? I also like to announce the week’s upcoming goals so everyone is informed.
Once my week starts, I'm focused on the small things that might get us closer to a certain 6×6 that needs to be accomplished. I contact people I've been trying to work with, or someone I would like to work with. Some of my big focuses for the week could involve preparing for meetings, onboarding new clients, hiring new employees, finishing a contract, or creating and updating to-do lists. Whatever the week throws at me, I'm ready for it.
Some of the standard weekly duties include scheduling and scheduling conflicts (things come up and you have to be prepared to move stuff around): Making new business calls, clean and file, check my email, etc. One of my weekly goals is to get my inbox down to zero unread messages by Friday, which as you could imagine is an ongoing task. I'm working on integrating the Evernote system right now to help me with this.
Focusing on long-term goals when you have a list of short-term goals or deadlines can get difficult. I like to write down 5-year, annual and quarterly goals to see how they can manifest into 6×6 goals. Sometimes it can require attaining those short-term goals to move on to something bigger.
Education and knowledge are important keys to success. Whether it is a seminar or a business book, I like to make sure I'm informed and current. How do I have time to read a book while running a successful business? It’s simple; I set aside a small amount of time each day to read. If you can read just 10 pages a day, you can read up to 12 books in a year! It's crucial to stay up to date on what is happening in your field and the world around you. Generally when I dive in for 10 pages, I usually get in 50!
What are the most important things to do today? I can’t go home until they’re done. One of my daily goals is to read all of my email, which on a given day could be about 200. Sometimes it can get can get overwhelming trying to work with all of the incoming calls and messages. You just have to find a system that works for you.
I like to set up scheduled times that I check messages and emails. I also identify two projects to do per day. This helps me make sure that I accomplish something everyday.
I always make sure to connect with my employees, whether that be mentoring or just having lunch together. I like to walk around daily and talk to each every one, even if it’s just asking them how their day is going, or how their families are doing. I like to make sure they aren’t overwhelmed, and if they are, I assist in finding a solution to help them. It's important for me to stay connected with my employees, because we're working together towards a common goal.
On top of everything else, you also have to remember the little stuff. I ask myself:
- Does my day support my long-term goals?
- Did I remember to celebrate success?
- What didn’t go right?
- What did go right?
- How can I learn from the things that didn’t go right?
- Do any employees need to be counseled?
- Is everything on my calendar?
- Did I turn the oven off?
The real trick to staying organized is finding a method that works for you. Everyone has a different style. As long as you're working hard to reach your own personal goals, that’s all that matters. It helps when you have a group of talented individuals working with you to reach those goals.
I want to close with a quote that really sums up why it's important to have goals, and why being well organized is vital to reaching them. I hope this has helped or inspired you to get organized and keep your eye on the prize of small business success.
“Goals are a reflection of our character. When we reach them, we become something more.” ~ Unknown