A recently minted entrepreneur and prospect revealed a troubling, but common business problem. The new enterprise emerged when the original owner shut down the operation. A team of excellent technicians inherited the customer contacts and service processes. However, their business development skills were a little rusty. Still, they had clients. The principal wanted growth because he knew growth was good. Unfortunately, he was not exactly sure how to achieve it, nor exactly what to do with it once he got it. My advice: growth is good, but discipline is better!
Despite the wisdom of the advice, knowledge itself does not achieve objectives. If information alone created results, then we would all be thin, healthy and happy! This business leader needed tools to execute tactics leading to fulfilling his desires and accomplishing his objectives.
1. Time is Money – This cliché is elegant in its simplicity. As the leader controls his time better, then he can more effectively prioritize. And, the entrepreneur’s priority is to make money. Understand that the organization’s health requires the leader to both plan and perform. Planning creates profitable processes. Performing delivers profitable activities. More importantly, clearly valuing time to maximize productivity creates a culture encouraging the team to value time to maximize their contribution. When the leader demonstrates time wasting activities, the culture follows the leader. The result is lost money.
2. Enforce Boundaries – As a result of determining time’s value, the leader must fiercely protect his time and his priorities. Subordinates and peers encroaching upon the leader’s value-creating time is the equivalent to serving children chocolate cake for breakfast. It satisfies in the moment. Then, they will bounce of the wall, have poor dental health, and be poorly nourished. And, they will blame the parent. Instead, tell them no. They will still be unhappy. But you will meet your priorities, which are ultimately in their best interest. Growth demands sacrifice and discipline. Protect business development time with strong boundaries and consequences. Make the client calls and do not allow interruptions! The team will get over it and you will be more effective.
3. Achieve Your Highest Value Contribution – Leaders are primarily responsible for the top line, the bottom line and protecting the operation’s culture. Prioritize your time to maximize your productivity. Focus on the activities creating the most value. This does not mean spending the majority of your time doing technical work because that is your favorite part. It means spending the majority of your time doing activities that is in the best interest of the organization. Furthermore, prepare your team to stretch themselves to perform higher level activities. These activities are functions that the leader could do, but intelligently declines. This forces delegating activities that are easy because a leader has to do what is hard. Otherwise, hard things do not get done.
These three points all focus back on prioritizing business development activities. Without sales the business does not grow, nor does it sustain. Growth is good. But without the discipline to make sure that leaders are contributing to revenue growth, quality service delivery and creating a winning culture, the enterprise fails to perform to anyone’s satisfaction.
This prospect will need to demonstrate that he is willing to change behaviors so that he can grow behaviors. And, the behaviors that he needs to grow must focus on profits. If he is willing to exercise the discipline to grow the enterprise’s revenue and culture, I look forward to bringing him on as a client who will acquire and apply the proper tools to achieve his aggressive growth goals.
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond