Necessary habits for growth

How to make time to work “on” your business


Business coaches will typically tell owners that they should work more “on” their business instead of “in” it. As businesses grow, the major limiting factor becomes the leader’s bandwidth to do just this. Eventually, they can no longer do the heavy lifting on their own.

In order to overcome this, we promote the idea of creating a “culture of growth” within the organization. This culture comes alive when staff is engaged with driving growth. However, this idea is abstract in nature. Here is a simple guide that breaks down this idea into mechanical steps that create habits necessary to grow the business:

Step 1: Assess the Business

Identify what the current state of your business is and where you want to go. Do different exercises and assessments to look over all areas of your business. Involve your team as you go through different analyses such as the creation of your vision and mission, SWOT, ideal customer profile, and competitive analysis. This will help you see your business through a fresh lens.

Step 2: Create the Plan

After that, take the results of those analyses to create your business plan for the next year. Make sure this business plan is simple so you can rally your staff around it. You and your team will review your plan every month (more of that in step 4), so make sure to include measurable targets so your staff can easily measure and track the plan’s achievement. Focus on targets that surround the five pillars of business: financial growth, customer delight, innovation, productivity, and great place to work.

Step 3: Align Your Staff

After the business plan is created, it is time to align your staff to it. When staff is aligned to the plan, leaders will know what their staff is working on, and that it will drive achievement to the plan. Moreover, with alignment comes a sense of empowerment and accountability for staff as they take on additional goals and responsibilities. Staff will be able to make decisions on behalf of the customer. On the other side, the owner will be able to focus on working “on” the business versus solely “in” the business.

Leaders can get their team aligned by helping them to create SMART goals that relate to the business plan. Each quarter, leaders meet with their staff to discuss the progress they’ve made on their goals.

Other ways include assigning responsibilities to staff members that relate to the goals on the business plan. These aren’t necessarily related to each individual’s job description, but more of what they need to do to drive achievement of the plan. Think of these as long-term and high-level responsibilities for the year.

Step 4: Execute the Plan

Now it’s time to execute the plan. After you closed your month, go through a monthly process of updating the targets on the plan and subsequently creating accountability items. We use what we call the “must do/can’t miss” board to enforce accountability and a listing of “who is doing what, by when” to achieve the plan. Each week, have staff do a stand-up report on the status of their accountability items.

Step 5: Review the Process

At the end of the month, the leadership team will meet to discuss the progress the business made to the plan. Here, owners and leaders are able to stop, talk about their pain points, and strategize about their next steps. An advisor can join this meeting or it can also be done in a roundtable fashion with other growth-minded business.

Then, after the monthly meeting is done, repeat step 4 (plan execution) until it’s time for next year’s business plan. Having this rigor month after month will lead to sustained growth.

That’s it! Follow these basic steps to work on your business. Rally your team around your business plan and empower them to drive achievement. The owner will then be able to work on tomorrow’s growth while the team manages today’s items.

Now, it’s your turn to change your business so you can work on your growth plan. Decide to break through.

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