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If you’re familiar with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” you’ve probably only heard the TL;DR version. Here’s the full version:
A dream written down with a date becomes a target. A goal divided into steps becomes a plan. A plan supported by action make your dreams come true.
This is why your plan will not be enough. A plan in itself is just a piece of paper or a bunch of zeros and ones that make up words. Fortunately, I have experience of failing and succeeding in business (more of the latter), and these are the five things I focus on to turn my plans into reality.
Related: Are You Planning to Grow Your Business? Five tips that can help you
Focusing on one primary goal per quarter is crucial. As much as we like to boast that we can multitask, we can’t. When was the last time you saw a population throw 10 balls in the air and catch them before they hit the ground? Precisely. A much better skill is to learn how to do all the tasks and realize which one will have the most impact.
More specifically, internal business transparency. Does your team understand the company’s finances? Do they understand what a burn rate is and that turnover does not mean you are profitable? Internal business transparency involves teaching your team how a company works and bringing them into the inner circle previously reserved for leadership alone. If you add stock options on top of that, you can activate an ownership mindset that makes your team your partner.
Now that your team has become your partner in success (and failure), they need to be held to a different standard, and accountability is key. There may be 3-10 people in charge of a priority (remember, only one per quarter), but there is one person at the helm, or what I call the champions, who makes sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do. However, this person must understand something. They are not “the boss”. Often when someone is given this kind of responsibility, they believe they can just shout orders and take credit only when they succeed and blame others for “not listening” when they fail. That is not the case. Liability goes both ways.
Related: 5 Keys to Fostering Accountability in Your Business
This is probably the most difficult part of the process. Your company is only as good as your weakest employee. If you’re small (less than 50 employees), you don’t have the luxury of holding hands – you either find a team that learns quickly or one that already has experience. I propose the latter again. You will thank me later. Understand that salary is your biggest investment and you should treat it like that: an investment.
labor power fast and fire quickly, especially if you are shorter. Yes, I know this isn’t your usual rallying cry (“Hire slow…”), but you have to realize that a day in the life of a small, growing company is like a month for an established company. You have to trust your gut feeling or someone else’s when you hire someone. I also highly recommend setting expectations with new hires to understand that they are in a trial period and need to scale. This may seem harsh, but as you grow you can be a little more gentle and mentor with a softer touch.
5. Stay healthy
It is important to stay healthy financially, physically and mentally. Create an environment that supports the importance of all three. Physical and financial are usually easier concepts to understand and solve (I said easier, not easy), but mentally is a hard nut to crack. Simply saying that there is an open door policy is nice and needs to be said, but sometimes that is not enough. Keep in mind that the time you spend on one thing — focusing on earnings, for example — usually doesn’t stop you from focusing on the well-being of your employees. Finding the balance is sometimes not worth the effort when you are smaller, but should definitely come to the table as you grow and can afford to implement a mental health system.
Related: Keys to Planning for Smart Business Growth
Do you notice a trend in planning here? There was only one point that spoke directly about taking action, and the rest was to help others be effective in their tasks – which has always reminded me of Antoine’s quote. I always wanted to add the following…
But remember, a dream is nothing without someone who appreciates it along with you
Without your team running smoothly, a plan cannot take action. And if you really want to make it big, you’re not going to do it yourself. Do you disagree?