The daily demands of running a business can be all consuming. Often, long term goals become fuzzy. This is dangerous – there is a real risk of losing direction and then momentum. Keeping this in mind, business success depends, at least in part, on our making time to step back from the hurly-burly.
To reach that point in the future, where delivery meets vision and mission, we need time to evaluate where we are now, how we’ve got here, and where we’re going. Making time is something that must be done consciously and deliberately. It needs to be a high quality, high value opportunity that helps keep the individual and the business on track.
Evaluate to renew
It’s a process of evaluation and renewal. Of course, there are countless consultants and gurus to help with this, and many books on the subject too. Perhaps that is part of the problem. There is so much advice about how to approach this process that it can be confusing trying to work out which to follow.
So maybe it is worth starting with the fundamentals. To coin a phrase, let’s get back to basics.
Where are we, exactly?
Every business, every industry, experiences cycles – in growth, in efficiency, in profitability, in demand. Not only is each business subject to economic cycles, but there is also the cycling through the evolution from startup to SME to large partnership or corporation. Plus, of course, there is a whole raft of challenges (and opportunities) which are the result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Understanding where we are and what’s happening to our business has never been more important.
“This above all: to thine own self be true”
A good place to start is to measure the present day against the origins of the business: who was I then? what were my motivations? and so on. Getting to the heart of what’s important personally and professionally helps with the process of reaching a fresh perspective. Future targets should be clearer. Thus, next steps can be more easily and more accurately defined.
Part of this evaluation will be some hard thinking about the meaning of brand. Does it still stand for what I wanted it to represent, and how well is that promise being delivered? Does the whole proposition need a refresh, or is it just the details that need tightening up? How do I respond to a changed or changing market?
And for an especially challenging question, what about, “Am I still the best person to lead this business?”
Am I alone? Who can help?
Framing and asking these questions can be difficult to do alone. So, depending on the size of your business there is a valid and important place for good management consultants or a skilled business coach. Likewise, there are specialists in other fields, including branding and digital marketing, who will be able to help you redefine your key propositions.
One simple and effective approach is to use a business analysis questionnaire to get started. There are many examples available online but it is worth using one which is up to date and reflects the current, rapidly changing, state of the economy.
Once you’ve chosen your questionnaire, the inevitable challenge is to be ruthlessly honest in answering the questions! Very occasionally this might be painful. More often it will initiate a valuable conversation: how can the company of today, in 2021, become the business of the future, without losing sight of the dream that started it all in the first place?
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