Helping your boat go faster….
Before heading out onto the water, know the rules and check essential equipment.
Sailing the ocean… such a great analogy for what it is like to be in business! Sometimes its smooth sailing, sometimes rough. Sometimes we feel like we’re not going anywhere fast. We need to be able to sail in all kinds of weather and make progress to reach the various destinations we have in mind.
There’s lots you can do to keep your business and yourself in a better position, to develop a capable team, and manage systems within your business. Here’s 15 thought starters to keep you safe in the water and make your boat go faster!
Life Jacket – As the business owner you are a key part of the business. You give it your all, yet you might forget to take care of yourself. Do you think you can work those ridiculous long hours and still be productive? I think not! Work with the team to spread the load. In terms of life jacket my strong recommendation is to put yours on first!
To be able to stay there for the long haul and run a business sustainably you need to take care of yourself first. This will keep you in the best shape and mindset, to be able to perform at your best and be the person you need to be in your business and your personal life, and be there for others when they need you. So make sure to take care of you!
Waterproof Communications – Communication is everything in business. This includes partners, and management team, and staff and suppliers, clients and prospects. Focus on quality communication. Communication play a significant role in keeping everyone involved and motivated.
Communication is a two-way street obviously. Or maybe not so obvious for some. Take the time to talk. This includes listening (deeply) to all those you work with, and addressing people’s ideas or concerns pro-actively.
Navigation Equipment – Without a travel chart or the equipment to monitor progress, you will quickly find yourself ‘bobbing in the ocean’ going nowhere fast. A plan does not need to be overly complicated, but it needs to be clear enough so that everyone knows where the company is going and what to measure against. You need to monitor your progress along the way, and adjust course if you need to.
This includes having access and understanding of your financials, regular reporting and reviews (at least monthly) and looking at turnover and profitability, and monitoring your other performance indicators along the way, such as #quotes #sales, conversion ratio’s for example. Have a good fix on your overall position.
Torch – This is a handy instrument! It’s a great to be able to shine a light, when in darkness. From time to time you may need to investigate a bit deeper into the reasons why certain performance targets. It’s really not safe to be without a torch.
When working with businesses, I find sometimes that people don’t take the time to investigate issues or trends, and sometimes rather ignore what is happening. Not a good idea! So take the time to investigate, and learn from the outcomes, and fix whatever you can fix.
Alternative Form of Propulsion – Oftentimes businesses rely on some key clients or market segments, or on a limited number of key services/ products. This might not be a safe policy longterm. Regularly review the performance of segments, by ‘slicing and dicing’ and figuring if you are providing the right mix for your target market(s).
Bailing Device – Sometimes the boat is slowed by excess water. In retail and wholesale situations this may be slow moving stock. In tradie or factory situations this maybe not having the correct staff levels to achieve the required productivity. Sometimes we need to get the bucket (or pump) and get bailing.
Fire Extinguisher – When there are problems (or even perceived issues) go deal to them. Don’t let things smoulder. Talk about it. Address things. Better to act when things are small. I suggest regular and focussed operational meetings are great structures to get some of these things discussed with the team. However if it is a more personal matter, discuss this offline. The main point is deal with situations as they occur. Sometimes all it takes is a quick blast with a fire extinguisher!
Anchor – In fast growing companies, sometimes it’s better to take a breather and consolidate. This includes focusing on maximising profitability, having a stable team and creating a platform for further growth.
Pick Hook – This is a great tool to have in your toolkit. Reach out and work with others to grow your business. Who are you ‘hooking’ into?
Throw Line – Build your networks, and participate in groups. Mixing with other business owners, even if they are not in the same industry, is massively motivating. Again two-way street. You get back what you put in. Sharing is caring. Get involved. You’ll find that when you’ve run low on fuel, the networking can help you going again, and in general make your boat go faster.
Also when you need a tow, you’ll be able to get one! Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. When you’re stuck with something there is bound to be someone who has experienced this before, and can help you get unstuck.
Spare Fuel – Recharge yourself from time to time. Go away for a long weekend, and take the holiday. The business is here to work for you! In regard to staff the same message. They need to be able to go away and recharge. So plan your business in such a way that you have appropriate back-up options in place to cover leave, and to ‘cross-train’ so that the skill and experience is shared within the workforce.
Do all that and I think you’ll find it easier to take a break from time to time! Knife Be careful this instrument is sharp! Sometimes you know you have something or someone in the business that you need to cut loose. This could be a client, or a staff member, or a particular product or service or an office system. Do the analysis, select the procedure, and take swift action and do it properly.
First Aid Kit – Sometimes things go wrong. Nobody meant it to happen, but when you’re sailing close to the wind, and determined to win a race we may have an accident. While these are relatively unexpected events, but we should not be surprised when they happen. We can still plan for them and minimise the impact to the business.
Protective Clothing – In business terms this might means having some cash reserve or access to lending to bail us out if things get touch. Cash is the lifeblood of the business, and we want to be careful not to run out. Kill Cord As part of business planning, we often do an exercise “stop, start, continue”. This is an excellent method to get clarity on your priorities and what you spend your time on.
PS “When in doubt, don’t go out” As entrepreneurs we inherently take risks, but we should not be stupid. Sometimes the weather is just not conducive, and the wind might be blowing from the wrong direction. This might be a good time to stay put and make some plans for when the weather clears!
About the author
Douwe has been in business for more than 25 years, owning, operating and growing a range of businesses with up to 65 staff. He has loads of skills and experiences to share. He is totally passionate about the role that mindset plays in personal and business success, as well as the benefit of having great systems. If you are interested in having a chat about your business, and explore if there is a click and a good reason to work together, don’t hesitate to be in touch. It’s only a conversation. 027 508 8335 firstname.lastname@example.org