By Robert Craven, MD of The Directors' Centre
So here’s the lowdown, the straightforward truth about growing your business`.
This may seem like a bit of a wild goose chase but if you follow the line of argument then you will discover what you need to put in place to make it happen in your business.
It is all about making the right decisions. Making the right decisions appropriate for the specific business that you are running. To be honest, at least 70% of business owners fall over at this stage.
But actually it is all about taking action, rolling out the action plan. Taking massive action. No half-hearted attempts here but properly ‘going for it’. No holds barred. Full on. 100% commitment. As they say, ‘actions talk louder than words’. And precious few businesses get to this stage.
But actually it is all about results. It really doesn’t matter how great the actions were, how original or innovative, how awe-inspiring or pushing the envelope they were unless you got the results you were chasing. So actually, it is all about results. And precious few businesses deliver on this one.
So, how can you drastically improve your ability to deliver the results? How can you make this less of a lottery? How can you reduce the odds of failure and get closer to making the delivery of results into something that is almost inevitable?
Having shown you the formula from the start (you need to make the right decisions... so that you can take the right actions... so that you can get the right results), it is now time to reflect.
Why don’t people succeed in putting together the simple equation, ‘right decisions + right actions = right results’? The answer is in one simple word, accountability, specifically for the results.
As owners of our own businesses we are rarely (if ever) accountable to anyone. We can make all kinds of promises and commitments and then we can turn our back on the great action plans as if we had never signed up to them in the first place. Most of the time there is no-one there to manage us and so we get away with murder. Our self-talk and our subsequent conversations with partners and colleagues rationalise and justify what is essentially our failure to deliver. As an employee we would be sacked for failing to perform. But when it is your own business you get away with it.
So, what is to be done?
You need to be held to account. You need to put in place some kind of device, process or system so that you are held accountable to deliver, to perform. So, how do you do that?
In my humble opinion you do have a number of options to make yourself accountable. Whichever option you go for you need to figure out what will get you to perform. Carrot or stick? Public humiliation or private anguish? Movement towards a goal or away from pain?
You could use your own colleagues in the business to commit to. Your board would be the obvious people to report to. Yes, I said ‘report to’. Whatever it takes to get you delivering.
Or, you could employ a business coach, a consultant, or your bank manager to whom you need to commit your goals and then get help to work towards them and maybe put in place a simple reward/penalty system for success/failure, something that motivates you, eg a week’s ski trip with your friends for success and pay £1,000 to charity for failure. You decide whatever you think will get you more motivated. The pressure of an outsider assisting in an objective yet supportive manner has tremendous power.
Another possible solution would be a slightly larger group, some kind of mastermind group that meets regularly and to whom you have to report. There are many different forms of boardroom hot-seats available. Here the power is that you are not just responsible to one outsider but to a whole number (who are also going through a similar process as yourself). Again you have the objective, supportive outsider working with you but now you get the wrath or congratulations of your professional peers. For many they feel able to lie to their fellow board directors but cannot bear to admit their incompetence to what is, relatively, a room full of strangers. Professional humiliation is avoided at all costs.
This whole accountability piece is very much horses for courses. You need to find what best suits you.
However, unless you are accountable to deliver then I see no obligation, on your part, to deliver on the results. And without the desired results, the right decisions and right actions are worth nothing.
Time to get your act together.
Robert Craven's new book, Grow Your Service Firm, is soon to be published. To see more about the book and to get your own pre-signed and pre-publication copy, go to www.robert-craven.com
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