By Michael Kline
1. Planning – do the right things. Duh. Sounds so simple it’s almost stupid, but seriously, how do some people always know (or seem to know) what is the right thing to do? People that have better luck than others at knowing what to do aren’t just lucky. They go to industry trade shows, conventions or meetings and they read the trade journals and top rated blogs for their industry to stay abreast of the latest trends and available tools. They keep accurate records at their own business, so they know what past efforts worked the best and repeat and improve upon them. They use industry standards as well as their own benchmarks to set goals and develop strategy to achieve those goals, with careful monitoring along the way. By the way, successful people don’t really always know what to do. They sometimes do the wrong things, fail without dwelling on it, and move on to the next thing. Mistakes are ok.
2. Cash flow – make sure you can afford to do the right things. Success is almost as expensive and failure. Sometimes, success can lead to failure if it isn’t properly funded. Most people, who have asked me for help in finding a loan, didn’t need a loan at all. If you have cash flow, and you want to expand, then a loan might be for you. If you’re having trouble keeping up with the bills, you probably don’t need and can’t get a loan. If your business isn’t earning enough cash to pay the bills, how will it pay the bills plus the new debt?! The loan only works if it is used to change something so that you will be able to pay the bills and the debt. Most small businesses carry far too much accounts receivable and they don’t need to. If you think you need to, call me and let’s talk about it – you probably really don’t need to! Here’s the simple truth – nothing solves problems like cash. Nothing makes cash like sales. Plan your sales calls and the amount of cash that will produce. Plan carefully though, because if you’re good really at growing, you’ll run out of cash – growth is expensive, but it’s much easier to fund.
3. People – have the right people doing the right things. Do you have the right people? Do they know what to do and how to do it? Are you the right person? I’ve often argued that it’s very difficult to find the right people. And, if you find them, they’ll leave you because they’re self-motivated to do their own thing. Or, they would stay but you can’t afford them. For these reasons, I believe in growing your own people. This is hard work, but with the right systems, ordinary people can produce extraordinary results. Even the largest of companies in the world, rely on pure talent of individuals for too many decisions and too many processes that could be systematized. You need the best people you can get, but don’t expect too much from the incapable, and don’t try to hold down the capable just because you need them. Better to rely less on people and more on systems.
4. Systems – so the right things can be repeated with predictability. People don’t run successful businesses, systems do. Excellent people run the systems to produce predictable results.
Best wishes to all my clients, students and readers for a kinder and more prosperous 2012.