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7 Key Steps Business Leaders Should Consider for Future Success

This past summer, I spent some time with my college basketball coach. It was incredible to think it has been thirty years since I last played for him. Time really does fly! When I consider this from a business standpoint, I wonder what business owners find when they reflect back on how much has changed in the last ten years or so. In many ways, I think business owners and business leaders would think, “That seems like yesterday and not that long ago.” Well, consider what your business will look like ten years from now. What will be different? How is your business going to survive? How are you going to grow? How are you going to become better? What’s your plan? Who do you have in your organization that’s going to lead? I think that businesses, especially entrepreneurial endeavors, often grow by the sheer force of will of the founder and his key team. What about thirty years from now? What if you are developing a legacy business and trying to develop something that can outlive your initial entrepreneurial start-up. How do you make sure it survives beyond your force of will and passionate work ethic? I believe there are seven key steps that business owners should take:

7 Key Steps Business Leaders Should Consider for Future Success

  1. Identify future leadership. Who in your organization can step up and run this business in your absence? If you don’t currently have anyone suitable, then you need to seek out competent leaders for your high-end management positions in your next interviewing and hiring process. Hire not just for the technical skills you need, but also for the leadership your business will require when you are no longer there to call the shots.
  2. Invest in their leadership growth. Help them understand not just how to develop the technical skills you are hiring them for, but also the business side of things. They need to develop their business acumen. Send them to a class and get them involved in some of the business decisions necessary to run your business.
  3. Develop a plan. Your original “napkin plan” may well have run its course. Its time now to develop a longer-term, much more actionable plan.
  4. Involve your key people in the planning process. The reality is that your key people will be implementing it. They may also have the best ideas as you start to roll this process out further to advance your business and to rest of the team.
  5. Use advisers. Look at who has helped you along the way. Find an outside set of eyes without an emotional investment in your business that can help you “see the forest for the trees.” Entrepreneurs get their businesses started out of the gate and in many ways it’s their baby. One of the reasons we see why entrepreneurs don’t do the planning they need is because it forces them to take a look at this baby and decide that there are some things about this baby that are just plain ugly. Nobody likes to call their own baby ugly! You have to look at things that need to be done better and develop your business out into the future. Get an advisor who doesn’t really care about your baby, but is able to see the areas that need development and will speak truthfully.
  6. Consider “bridge talent.” Find someone who can bridge the talent gap you may have. If your current leaders and current staff aren’t the leaders you want, or they are not where you need them to be to get you to the next level, then consider getting some bridge talent. There is an enormous amount of talent out there available to you that can help you without becoming W-2 employees. Look for someone who has the experience and leadership skills you need and hire them as a contract employee to help you bridge the gap to the next level. The bridge talent can be a contractor you can give some very high-end strategic initiatives to because they have the experience. So, you need to find some good, solid talent, give them some significant strategic projects and your business will be stronger. You will be able to hand this off to the next layer of leadership and have a much stronger team moving forward.
  7. Delegate, delegate, delegate. This is very difficult for entrepreneurs. Trust your team, give them some key initiatives and they will help develop them. This will give them a sense of ownership and they will want to be involved in taking this business to the next level. Trust your team, give them some important things to do and empower them. Let them know it is up to them to get it done. Finally, it is important to hold them accountable. Celebrate their victories and hold them accountable if they are not getting things done.

Basically, business owners and entrepreneurs, time flies. I think these seven steps are crucial to the future success of your business. Every business owner should consider them now in order to plan for how things will look 10 years from now.

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