I Take The Lead
The Freedom to grow your business!
AbigailContributed by Abigail Dougherty (Info at bottom)
Keeping Your HeadThe ability to stay focused on the goal is one of the most essential traits in any successful business. When a businessperson says they are in business “to make money”, I assume they won’t be in business very long. If money is the only goal, there are easier ways to get it; some legal, some not. Running a successful business needs a greater reason for existence. Otherwise, the obstacles will prove to be overwhelming and the business will close.
Make the time, to write down the five things you want from your business in the next two years.  One of the goals might be a certain income level; what are your other four goals? These goals help drive everything about your business. They help you define your processes, which in turn help build your income.
George, a client, has a goal of 13 weeks of vacation a year. Most of us might think it’s impossible to run a successful business when you are gone one quarter of the year. George knew in order for him to be gone 13 weeks a year he needed a well trained team to run the business in his absence. It wasn’t as simple as placing an ad then handing them the keys to the office. 
George spent weeks examining everything his company does for clients. With his existing staff, he documented each step from the marketing plans, to initial client phone calls, through to the job close out and payment. They also included his quarterly mailings to all clients with seasonal suggestions. In the course of this work he found gaps and redundancies in the process that previously were resolved with “human glue”.
Once the documentation was complete, George analyzed what personnel was needed to accomplish each step in the process. The ideal is a staff of five, including himself. Two of his current staff matched the new well-defined roles. With clarity, he was able to post and hire for the remaining openings. George focused six months on this project, and he added headcount. Was it worth the time and expense?
George’s net revenue grew 11% for the fiscal year that ended in June 2009. During that fiscal year, George spent 9 weeks on vacation. He’s booked the full 13 weeks of vacation for the current fiscal year. An unintentional consequence of George’s work: he now has a business that can be sold more easily with it’s defined system and identified proprietary processes. If he, or his heirs, decided to franchise the business, they can ensure the same results in another location.
“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”- E. Joseph Cossman
Who’s Influencing You?In addition to focus, the people you routinely spend time with play a huge role in the success of your business. We need competitors as well as supporters to keep our businesses focused on meeting the customer’s needs. The Latin root for the verb “to compete” is “competere”, which means “to seek together” or “to strive together”. Product and process improvements seldom happen in the absence of competition. Our competitors, collectively, will come up with more innovations than we could individually dream up in several lifetimes. Know your competitors, learn how to tap into their collective wisdom, and when to use them to solve your challenges.
In addition to competitors, it’s crucial to have supporters. Other entrepreneurs understand the challenges of running a business and are often your best supporters. Being able to commiserate, gain ideas and tap into their resource network is a wonderful boon to your business. When we want to grow, as individuals and as business professionals we don’t want to hang out with people who reinforce our own obstacles. When you routinely spend time with creative, positive people, there is no challenge too big to resolve. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”Jim Rohn
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Abigail DoughertyStraight Edge Solutions