A simple process to make your business more successful (while saving time and money)

I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who are running their business but don’t know where they are running it to! As a result, they may enjoy a profitable business but they’re spending a lot of time and effort and losing some of that profit. And, the long-term picture seems to be: “more of the same”.

A SIMPLE PROCESS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
This simple process will save you time, effort, and money and allow you to grow your business. Although it doesn’t replace a business plan, it will stand in for one quite nicely if you haven’t prepared one.

STEP ONE: ENVISION THE END STATE
Figure out what you want your business to end up as in a few years. What is your exit strategy? Will you want to sell your business? Will you want to pass your business on to your children? Will you want to simply wind up your business and retire? Create a clear picture of your business’ “end state”.

STEP TWO: DETERMINE THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE END STATE
I think this is going to be the trickiest step for entrepreneurs. In this step, you need to figure out what factors make up the end state. You’re not just restating what you said in step one. Rather, you’re trying to break out step one into a series of elements in the same way that someone might break out a substance into its fundamental elements from the periodic table.

For example: If you want to pass your business on to your family, the following elements will need to be in place:

  • A healthy, profitable business
  • A clientele that can handle the change
  • Family members that can “buy in” to your vision
  • Family members who are fully trained and ready to take over
  • A legal business structure that will allow the transition
  • A long term vision that extends beyond the transition (but is flexible enough to be changed if your children want to do something different)
  • A contingency plan in case your children do not want the business

… There are probably more points (and some of the ones I’ve listed above could probably be broken down a bit more) but you get the idea.

STEP THREE: CREATE GOALS AROUND EACH ELEMENT
Now that you know what elements will make up the end state of your business, you can create goals to contribute to those elements. You might need to make several goals for each element; that’s okay. Make them SMART goals and expect them to be spread over several years if your exit strategy won’t be put into place for some time to come.

STEP FOUR: LIST TASKS FOR YOUR GOALS
Nothing fancy here, just list the tasks you need to do to accomplish each goal. Each goal will likely have several tasks (or more). Don’t worry at this point about which task to do first or what needs to be done after. List them all, regardless of order. Also, be sure to schedule time to revisit this list and make sure everything is still on track. Make mid-course adjustments as necessary.

STEP FIVE: DO IT
Now just start hammering out those tasks. Some tasks can be done right away. Others can’t be done for months or even years. Some tasks are one-off to-dos. Others are ongoing efforts.

That’s it. It seems simple but it doesn’t happen often (especially step two). However, by taking the time to do this, you’ll fine tune your business to work explicitly toward your ultimately business goal (rather than simply letting your business float through the years without any direction). You’ll save money and time and effort by focusing on the things that are important to achieving your goal and you’ll have a clear outline that will allow you to make business decisions more easily.

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