Routines, responding and being busy never achieves real success.
Business owners can sabotage their success. The sabotage is not deliberate, it happens unconsciously and in subtle yet noticeable ways. As I outline some of the ways we can destroy our businesses, you are going to say; I heard that before. That is what amazes me. We know and yet we don’t change.
When our business started, there was enthusiasm, a clear vision and a plan to get there. Over time we get into a flow that works at first then it does not. We stay in the routine regardless, lose sight of our vision; our enthusiasm wanes and revenues go down.
We start to find blame. The staff is not doing their job. We don’t have enough leads. Expenses are going up. The list goes on, but the real reason is we lost our focus and the WHY behind what we are doing. Our days are spent going through a routine without much thought. We respond to whatever comes our way, opportunity or problem. We are busy, and nothing changes. We have lost our focus, our sense of purpose and our passion. Our aim does not go away. Our attention is simply not on it, so it fades. Businesses and business owners suffer when this happens.
Carol owns a successful law firm focused on estate planning. She has competent staff and associates though everything seems to be slowing down. Carol admits that she starts her day reading her email and responding to social media posts. Reading and responding to online content takes a lot of her time. So many people run their business by responding to emails and social media posts about their business. Carol cannot describe her strategic plan for her business. They are just busy doing the work for their clients. Carol is unclear how to lead, so she merely responds in the moment. Her responses solve the problem at hand but does not move the business forward.
Sam and Fred
Sam and Fred own a successful IT company. Their staff is competent, and the company is growing, but it is in danger of failing. Sam and Fred are still doing the daily work of the business side by side with their staff. Neither of them has the time to lead the business beyond making decisions as issues come up. They are busy just keeping up with the work. Their business is about to fail because they did not create time to address their capabilities long term and how they will continue to provide the level of service they promise.
Suzanne owns a successful home health agency. Revenues are dropping. She wants to close the business. Years ago Suzanne wanted to quit as well. At that time, Suzanne was providing direct care for their clients, something she no longer wanted to do. Rather than close her business I suggested she stop providing care and become a better manager. She did, and the company flourished again. Over time she has become tired, so she wants to close the company again. I suggested that she develop a manager and move into being the leader, visionary and strategic planner. Suzanne does well with change but cannot always see the change that is needed. The business has needed her leadership for some time and being a visionary leader is something that inspires her.
In these examples, the owners were not leading their companies. Whatever is happening in their business is the result of how they are day to day. They are busy. Every business owner needs time to review their vision and their strategy to move from where they are now toward that vision.
Their challenge is to get out of their routine, which can also mean being unconsciousness. When we are in a routine, we do not have to think. We are on automatic and lose sight of whether what we are doing is moving us toward our vision of success. Routines tend to limit our focus to an immediate result, which may not support the larger vision of the company.
Another challenge is learning to do less or none of the work of the business and spending more time leading the business. Leading is so much more than making decisions and responding to what comes up. Being a leader may not be comfortable for some. Stepping into this new or uncomfortable role gives us the opportunity to grow as a leader.
To lead a business requires stepping out of our routine. To stop doing the work of the business to spend time imagining the company we are creating and how to get there. When we take the time to reflect, meditate or imagine the bigger picture or vision, then we can make adjustments to the work in present time. Change breaks up routines that no longer serve the business.
Notice for yourself. Are you in a routine, responding to what comes up and just being busy? Or do you see clearly the vision of the business you are creating? Are you implementing a specific plan to get there?
Take the time to be clear about your vision. Let go of where you are and determine a strategy for moving closer to your vision. Focusing on our vision will undoubtedly create change. Change might be just what is needed.