Six New Year’s resolutions for business leaders

By: Peter Howdle

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“Whatever is left over at the end of your quarter is what will be spent in the first quarter. After that, you will spend whatever’s left.” -Anne Hill

It’s been a rough year for many businesses. We’re not necessarily advocating the idea that businesses should under-invest in investment in order to manage year-over-year performance. In fact, if you plan for a year of great returns then the pressure is on you to deliver year after year. That said, there are some things you can do to prepare your business for the prospects ahead.

Our wish list for 2020 is a good starting point. Here are the business areas we think every C.E.O. should be preparing to transform their company before it’s too late.

– Give your business a “five-year plan” – This is not a plan you should just file in your filing cabinet, but rather a plan that will be adjusted as you need to, day by day, month by month, year by year. With an annualized five-year plan, you’ll ensure you’re in the midst of strategic transformation with the appropriate thoughtfulness, strategies and timing.

– Maintain an active investor profile – Build your credibility with investors by maintaining a consistent routine of meeting with them on a quarterly basis. Clarify your strategy and validate your successes (or lack thereof).

– Develop and use your “How To” sheet – This sheet is a “How To” on management actions. A summary of what needs to be done, with some ideas for how you can do it. Use it when building your schedule, your processes and your business rules.

– Use the tools of the trade – Use vendors. Look outside of your organization to find employees who will provide you with better tools and resources. This can range from your temporary help agencies to help you streamline your operations, to software that helps you stay in sync with your employees.

– Get your leadership “well trained” – Actively invest in training and continuing education for your top employees to become their most productive and well-trained selves. You need to give them the tools, resources and knowledge to operate your business successfully. Do this through project competitions, written materials, professional development courses and paid volunteer hours. Have employees that not only understand your business, but are really passionate about how it works.

– Identify your “Why” – Recognize why you do what you do and focus your efforts on making it clear. Make sure your people understand why you build with customers and customers understand why you focus on building with their best interests at heart.

– Reinvent yourself with acquisitions, new products and/or distribution channels – Rely on the acquisition strategy to diversify your revenue stream and product offerings. Read books that serve as pre-rolls for your next acquisition strategy.

– Prepare for retirement – Make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure your employees are financially secure. If you’re not providing adequate retirement resources to your employees, then your business is not doing everything it can to maintain your employees’ wellbeing.

Make them honest – The only way to avoid things like job loss and mis-selling is to check for your company’s management’s integrity. Seek to acquire your employees’ trusted sentiments when they decide whether to stay with your company or leave.

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