Running a business takes work, focus, energy and time. And chances are, you don’t want to just run your business, you want to grow it. You want a strong business that can handle any and all challenges, a business that can pursue every opportunity available.
When most owners, executives and managers are thinking about how to create a stronger business, they’re looking for very specific strategies, ideas and steps that they can implement into their business. However, what surprises most people is that four of the most effective business growth strategies don’t start with the business. They start inside the leader.
Maybe you’re an owner, an executive or a manager — bottom line, you’re the leader. Your employees follow your direction (most of the time). Your decisions are the ones that generate your leads and deliver the promised level of service to customers. So, if you want to create a stronger business, the best place is to start with you.
Become a better leader, and you will create better followers; create better followers, and you will create a better business. Many leaders who focus on how to create a better business will struggle because they try to implement strategies in the business, but fail to make the necessary changes in themselves.
The sooner you realize that the strength of your business hinges on your leadership ability, the sooner you’ll start growing yourself and seeing the results in your bottom line. Here are four strategies that start inside you, but create powerful results throughout your company.
No. 1: Create a strong, clear vision. You can’t go on a journey unless you know exactly where you want to go. A strong leader has a strong, clear vision of where they want the business to go. (Even if you’re not the owner, you can still have a strong vision of where the company is going and your role in bringing it there.)
Create your strong, clear vision by thinking very specifically about what you want the company to achieve in five years. Then work backward to create an equally strong vision for three years, one year, six months and a quarter.
Write this vision out on a piece of paper and make it as clear and compelling as possible. It should excite you as you think about it and it should be as vivid as you can possibly make it.
No. 2: Inspire others. Some leaders create a vision, but that vision never fully trickles down to the people who are doing the work every single day. It’s hard for the workers to contribute to the vision if they don’t see and share that vision.
So, once you have a very clear vision of the future, start sharing it with others. Get early buy-in from other leaders (both formal and informal) in your company. Then, bring together all employees and share your vision with them. Get them excited. Create a quarterly theme, a contest, and trackable metrics that are all tied to your vision.
Get everyone talking about your theme. You’ll know that this step is successful when even your part-time custodial staff can excitedly tell you what the vision is and can explain how they’re contributing to its fulfillment.
No. 3: Lead with power. Inspiration can wear off when your employees are in the field working. Their long to-do lists and other workplace demands may distract them from the bigger picture, and it will be easy for them to return to the same old ways of focusing just on today. But you know that focusing just on today is not a path to growth.
Therefore, you need to lead with power. Everyone has an inner power that they can tap into — it’s the ability to enter a room and have people listen to you and follow your directions. Some leaders want to be friends with their employees, or they try to lead by strong-arming their employees, but a true leader should command respect when they meet their employees — that’s a power that comes from inside you and is the result of confidence and of not taking no for an answer.
Be professional, expect results, and keep pushing your team toward the vision you created.
No. 4: Remain focused. Just as it’s easy for your team to start to lose focus, it’s easy for you to lose focus too. You’re busy inspiring everyone else, plus dealing with all the challenges that a leader faces daily, so it’s easy for you to lose track of that inspiring vision and then to remain inspiring to others.
So, remind yourself of your vision daily. Do whatever it takes to keep it front and center. From the moment you wake up to the moment you finally close your eyes at night, you should constantly be thinking about your vision and asking yourself how every decision and action can bring you closer to it.
Every good leader wants to grow the business. However, it doesn’t start with tricks and tactics in the business, in starts in you — and the vision you create, the inspiration you provide, the power you lead with, and your ability to remain focused. Start there and growth will naturally follow.
Mike Agugliaro is the “Business Warrior” and founder of CEO Warrior, a business consulting and mentoring firm, providing tested and proven methods to defeat the roadblocks that prevent small to mid-sized businesses from achieving their ultimate success. He has played a key role in building Gold Medal Services’ success, as co-owner of the company. For more information about CEO Warrior, visit www.CEOWARRIOR.com.