3 Simple Questions to Help Guide Your Business’s Operations
Are your operations in alignment with your strategy and vision?
An organization without a vision and strategy is a rudderless ship — no matter how much manpower or capital you throw at it, it’s going to be hard to steer in the right direction. This high-level decision-making is the one function that a CEO can’t delegate, for it’s the essence and primary job of being the chief executive.
While there’s the possibility that others could manage and support the second and third concerns, no one but the CEO can set the vision or the strategy.
That’s all good, in theory, but the world of business isn’t nearly that clear. You’re inevitably mid-stream when you have to make these decisions — it’s not like you get to start with a clean slate.
Here are three simple questions that’ll help you guide your company’s operations mid-stream:
1. What are you currently doing well? (And why?)
Let’s start by assessing what is working first. It’s impossible to do everything badly in business and survive long, which means that, if you’ve been at it for a while, you’re necessarily doing something well. What are those activities?
Just as important as what you’re doing well is knowing why you’re doing them well. Knowing what without knowing why doesn’t give much room for constructive change. Is your marketing message really resonating with your market? Is your strategy really sound even if the execution of it isn’t great? Is your customer care remarkable?
Remember, build from your strengths — assuming your strengths are relevant to the direction you’re taking your company.
2. What would you do well if you had the capacity?
Nearly every organization I’ve observed — no matter the size, scope, or industry — has been over-capacity. Try as hard as you like, you can’t fit 16 units of Stuff into a 10 unit bag.
Name a few key objectives that would really impact the growth and viability of your company (and be honest about whether your company has enough capacity to get the job done well). What type of capacity do you need? More salespeople? More producers? More customer service reps? Better managers?
Compare the potential gains of nailing those objectives against the cost of getting the right people in the right positions. While we’re on comparisons, compare what your company is currently able to do with what it might be able to do. There’s usually a pretty stark opportunity cost to not getting the capacity you need.
Hint: You may not need to hire new people — it may be a matter of retraining or cross-training the people you currently have. The better your team, the better your business.
3. What are you doing that you no longer need to do?
Just as creative projects inevitably have scope creep, businesses have a similar creep — it’s easy to either stagnate with activities or customers that aren’t growth-oriented or to get spread too thin. Like a good apple tree, some judicious pruning can go a long way.
The easiest place to start is by looking at the oldest offers and customers you have. Are those old offers consistent with the current vision and strategy? Are those old customers really getting the best value from your company by sticking with your earlier offer?
Just because that’s where you started doesn’t mean you need to stay there. Find the right fit for both you and your customers — and do it quickly.
Another easy place to look is in your marketing and advertising activities. Have you tracked the return on investment of your marketing and advertising programs? Are you paying for a billboard that no one sees or a radio announcement when everyone is asleep? If your marketing venues are generating leads and customers, figure out better ways to use your money and time.
Get real here with the amount of time you’re spending on Social Media. If it’s bringing you business or building your brand, that’s great. If it’s not, might there be other, more effective marketing techniques?
Hint: Pick up the phone or send a sincere email.
Give yourself 30 minutes to review these questions to make sure your operations are in alignment with your strategy and vision. The minimal investment of time pays huge returns in clarity and concentration of resources.
Charlie Gilkey is an author, business advisor, and podcaster who teaches people how to start finishing what matters most. Click here to get more tools that’ll help you be a productive, flourishing co-creator of a better tomorrow.