Step 3: Building a Better Business in 10 Steps

Step 3: Define where you are now (warts and all)

The first two steps were about getting clear on exactly what you want and then being open to change and new learning.

Step three is about defining where you are now, warts and all, which is so often overlooked.  If you’re using GoogleMaps to get directions, what does it ask you?  It asks you what your starting point is.  It needs to know where you are now, so it can tell you how to get to where you want to go.  While this may seem obvious, too often business owners try to make a plan without fully understanding where they’re starting from.

And when I say, ‘warts and all’, I mean that you need to have a very honest and accurate understanding about the following five points:

1.The degree to which owners and leaders are aligned in their thinking.  If they were asked independently where the business is headed, would they say the same thing?

2.The current level of activity that is generating the sales numbers and returns you’re achieving.  It’s not just about the sales numbers themselves.  For example, how many leads are you generating per month?  How many proposals are being written and accepted?  What is your average sales value?  How many networking events are you attending or running per month?  You need to know this in order to improve.
3.The extent to which your team has bought into your plan, your culture, and your core purpose.  Without the team on board, you will not achieve leverage.  A study on employee engagement showed that only 30% of employees in companies were engaged, 52% were disengaged and 18% were actively disengaged.  Studies also prove that businesses with engaged team members significantly outperform those without.
4.The appropriateness of the measurement and reporting systems you have in place to track your results.  It’s all very well to set targets, but if you can’t measure them, you’ll be flying blind.

5.Your five biggest vulnerabilities right now.  Where are things most likely to break in the near future?  For example, poor systemisation, high team member turnover, cashflow strains, or a weak Balance Sheet. 

So, just as GoogleMaps asks you for your starting point, before you make a plan to head somewhere new, you must understand where you are right now.  Skip this step at your peril.

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