How to lead the pack in business

How to Lead the Pack in Business

Copyright (c) 2009 Linda Feinholz

Business life has cycles. Some of them are created by external circumstances, like the economy we’re all contending with these days. Others are internal to our company, driven for instance by new products and services we decide to offer our customers.

Each of those cycles has the potential to be disruptive to our business results OR create opportunities for expanding success.

A group of professionals I coach each month took a look at their own cycles last week. The question was whether they are planned for, and managed, or show up unexpectedly and create reactive havoc in their business.

Have you looked at this challenge for yourself?

Many business owners tie their review of their business and their planning what’s next to the cycle of the calendar. It’s easy to use December or January and the habit of setting new resolutions as the trigger to put your thoughts into business goals and changes. But tying business planning to the calendar may actually interfere with really effective business management.

What do I mean? I took a poll of 87 professionals, asking them what their approach is to planning and to addressing the challenges of business cycles.

Here are the results: – 30% of them never plan, they only respond to the opportunity right in front of them. – 47% review their results, and close the books on the past, without looking forward. – 13% refresh their quantitative goals, and usually do it on the same date each year.

Only 6% of the group actually look at cycles and trends and create a deliberate plan around them.

Guess who is running the most successful businesses?

You probably got it – the folks who are forward focused and planful with the information they gather.

Where do we pick up our habits? Usually in our childhood from school schedules, or holiday cycles. Or in our first work experiences, from the cycles that are being used in those companies.

One of the advantages I’ve found in my work with business owners is that our work usually starts at a random time of year. That means I get to break through the automatic cycle thinking of my clients and shift them to deliberately designing their own new cycles for themselves.

Here are several cycles that have helped my clients beat their competition:

Ignore The Calendar and Tax Cycles

If you tie your business thinking to these milestones, you’ll turn off your attention. Turn your mind back ON to the information and opportunities that are happening right now, for you, your customers, your products and services.

Set Your Vision, Right Here, Right Now

Many companies have a vision statement that is years old. Yet visions change as circumstances develop AND as success is achieved. So grab a fresh piece of paper and set a big vision for yourself and your business.

Stretch it to cover the next 5 years, so it engages you for the next elements.

Set 1-Year and 2-Year Targets

When you look at trends for your industry, your profession or products, there are always new ideas that you can incorporate. They may be a change in your services, or changes in the solutions that your clients are seeking.

Set 90-Day Milestones

To make sure you take action on those ideas, you need specific goals. These may include research, interviews with customers, product or program design work, training for your staff.

List them out so you are clear what the resources are that you need to put them into …

Calendar 30-day Actions

Break up your goals into the activities that will be taken each day, even if it’s a half hour at a time. That way you’ll start to incorporate a forward focus each day of your business, and each week you’ll see significant progress.

Check Your Progress Weekly

It’s all very well to have actions taking place. What makes them most powerful is directing those activities towards measurable results. You’ll have a stronger appreciation for creating your own cycles, when you keep them in mind as a regular part of your attention to your business. And that means each day and each week.

When you incorporate this series of cycles in your business, it will become natural for you to scan regularly for new opportunities AND refresh and restart those cycles as a regular pattern in your business.

And that’s how you’ll outpace your competition, and be using high payoff activities on a regular basis, no matter what cycles are going on in the external environment.

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