The Overlooked Secret to Growing A Business
Erica's business is booming.
“We're crazy busy and I just hired two sales people. Would you facilitate a strategic planning session to make sure we're all on the same page?” she asked.
Well sure, I love facilitating strategic planning, almost as much as I love speaking at women's conferences.
We set up a date and dove in.
What really happened…
It didn't take long for me to realize that it wasn't going to be a very strategic meeting.
Erica was under tremendous pressure for the sales people to make their 2013 numbers. After all, she's on the hook for a couple of big salaries now. So our “strategic” planning turned in to a short-term plan looking a lot like a “To Do List.”
Not much strategy took place. It couldn't. It's hard to be strategic when you feel like you've got a gun to your head.
And therein lies the problem…
Short-term needs crowded out Erica's long-terms needs. While scrambling to take care of what needs to happen today, next week, next month, what gets neglected is what needs to happen next year, and the year after.
Which will keep her company stuck.
Instead of getting ahead of the curve, they risk staying trapped in keeping up with today's demands.
The very systems that would allow her company to grow long-term (refining their CRM database, analyzing past customer sales, defining sales stages, looking at market trends, developing a strategic marketing plan, hiring a marketing person, outlining processes and procedures) took a back seat to how to make the sales goals in the next three to six months.
Erica is a smart, incredibly hard-working female entrepreneur. She's just caught in the same cycle so many female business owners face. They rarely have time to plan for the future. They are so busy with day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, just getting through their weekly “To Do” list or fighting fires consumes all their time and energy.
The secret to your business growth…
You need distinguish long-term functions from short-term functions.
This is not deciding which tasks you will do today and which you will do at some point in the future. It means knowing which functions make the business healthy in the short-term, and which functions make the business healthy in the long-term.
One is not more important than the other – you have to do both well.
The single most helpful action you can take to have the greatest impact on your business is to understand long-term and short-term functions, then separate them.
Short-Term functions (if you do these well, your business will be healthy short-term)
• Administration (systems, procedures, policies)
• Personnel (payroll, benefits administration)
Long-Term functions (if you do these well, your business will be healthy long-term)
• Marketing (anticipating the market & future customer needs; innovation)
• Research and Development
• HR (recruiting, staff development & training)
• Corporate culture, teamwork
The second step is to begin separating responsibility for those functions, realigning responsibilities as much as you can. The best-case scenario is to have different people responsible for long and short-term functions, as much as possible.
Look at all the roles you play in your business. Do you have responsibility for both long-term and short-term functions?
Now look at the responsibility of each employee and ask the same question.
I’m willing to bet that if they are, the long-term functions consistently fall lower on the priority list.
Now you're groaning…
I know…in many small businesses complete separation is unrealistic. It's hard for me too.
The next best scenario is to be very aware that you are wearing two different hats, and specifically allocate certain days or even hours to making sure your long-term functions are given enough time and attention.
For example, if you handle both marketing and sales, try blocking out two entire days each week where you don't schedule sales appointments, you work on marketing instead. Maybe it works better for you to divide your days into morning for sales, afternoons for marketing.
Keep these functions in mind when you consider your next hire and what they will be responsible for.
It takes discipline, and it’s worth it ..
Now that you know the secret, you’ll see your business through different eyes. You'll also see your company grow.
I'd love to hear how you put this secret to work in your business!
By Darcie Harris © 2013
Author of Why Women Run Smaller Businesses Than Men, founder of EWF International® and creator of The Alpha Mare Academy™, Darcie Harris is an international speaker, trainer, author, media resource, award-winning consultant and champion for female entrepreneurs. www.darcieharris.com & www.alphamareacademy.com.