Work on your business, not in it

Careful business planning can make or break the future of your organization. It can help build a competitive advantage, set priorities, assess opportunities and, overall, provide a roadmap of where you want your organization to go.

But as a leader, it can be difficult to get out from under the day-to-day grind and look at the bigger picture of what is going on within your business. Start working on – not in – your business by considering these four items:

  • Think long-term and be SMART. Don’t just set a long-term strategy – work on it. What is your ultimate goal for the business? Revisit your long-term strategy on a regular basis to ensure you’re on the right path. And although long-term strategy is the backbone of your organization, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the short-term goals. Create SMART goals each year – those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – and make plans on how you will achieve them.
  • It’s all about the people. Invest in your workforce to properly train your people and reduce turnover. Perhaps you know someone who is one of the best in his or her field. Do what you can to successfully recruit that person. On the other hand, you may have some employees contributing to a toxic environment. Consider finding a new place for them – either inside or outside of the company.
  • Create, measure, improve. It’s never fun to try navigating a company with no processes, structure or metrics. Develop processes and key performance indicators (with the input of various functions relative to the processes), implement and communicate them, and monitor how they are working so you can continually improve them.
  • Listen to your customers. After all, they know best when it comes to what they want. Talk to them regularly or try conducting a client satisfaction survey.

Evaluating improvement opportunities in your organization’s strategy, workforce, processes and customer service can guide your business toward the future you’ve always envisioned.

Mark S. Sobczak, CPA, is the partner-in-charge of Sikich LLP’s Milwaukee office.

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