Quote: “When I see the Ten Most Wanted Lists, I always have this thought – If we’d make them feel wanted earlier, they wouldn’t be wanted now.” – Eddie Cantor
I never quite understood the world’s obsession with lists. In searching for some pithy quote on lists to get your attention, I found some lists which were unbelievable. What about “10 Bizarre Things You Can Get from a Vending Machine” or “Top 10 Influential People Who Never Lived.” You also have to consider David Letterman who has made a career out of his Top 10 List segment. I thought the above quote said it all in a humorous, yet profound way. But, I digress…
When you spend your lifetime working with entrepreneurs, you can’t help but devise your own list of things you think they should be focused on. My list is in no way unique – it is just some advice based on my experience. So, here it goes:
- Keep your vision – Never lose sight of it; even if a “pivot” is necessary. Make sure you stay focused on the why of your product or service. Stay broad enough to remain viable (Yamaha – sell keyboards vs. Steinway – sell pianos.) Provide yourself periodic quiet time to think.
- Check your “How’s” periodically – Production, new product development, marketing, etc. Once a quarter, pick one or two and brainstorm to see if you can do it better (lean, etc.)
- Maintain competitive analysis – Understand why you are losing any sales or deals. Study your competitors to understand, fully, how they are approaching the market. Beware of paradigm change – think of the Amazon impact on book stores!
- Focus on Revenue – Always have a view-by-product line, by territory and by salesman/customer as to where it stands. Constantly consider untapped distribution channels.
- Periodic strategy review – Confirm that your business model still works and what you offer remains relevant in the market. Consider what you need to make your offering more complete and anything you can eliminate. A periodic SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) can pay big dividends.
- Keep owner issues in perspective – Know where you are now, where you are going and who replaces you. You should know how you are going to get out.
- Know your worth – Not just gut reaction; have a periodic objective assessment of the value of your business. Understand the value drivers.
- Use dashboard reporting – Stay focused on the type of periodic information you need to make decisions and to understand the status of your business.
- Assess team strength – Know how you stand in key positions and how you might strengthen the team now and in the future. Your most valuable asset will always be your people.
- Happiness quotient – Do you enjoy what you do? Are you happy today; are you looking forward to tomorrow? Speak about it to others. And most importantly – how do your members/team/employees truly feel.
There are no magic bullets here; just some points of reflection which hopefully allow you to assess your progress in achieving your goals.