Every morning, you get up, go to work and lead your painting company through another day. You‘re satisfied if you get through the day without too many problems from your customers and employees. You’re even happier if there’s money left over for you. Then, you get up and do it again. So, where’s it all going?
- What do want from your business?
- Is your business serving you or are you serving it?
- Do you want to grow it? Stabilize it?
- Grow additional leaders to ease your burden?
Every busy owner has a summit, a far off peak that they dream of reaching – an idea about what they would really like their business to be doing for them and others. To some, it’s but a dream. To others – who plan and communicate it relentlessly – it can become a reality.
Identifying your Vision
As a business leader, your primary objective is to see through the fog and identify where you want your company to go – your company’s vision. Your vision is a picture of a desired future state. I like to use a three year vision point. It’s a time frame that’s within reach. Your company vision should be specific enough that it guides you towards opportunities that suit it best. Consider including revenue and profit goals, the services you’ll be providing, the geographic service area, your organizational structure, the training environment and facility planning.
One of your goals may be to get yourself out of the “hourglass” where all things run through you. I often ask contractors why they want to grow. As the discussion continues, they usually determine that it’s because they want to be big enough where the business does not depend on them. They want enough revenue to be able to hire office staff to do the jobs they do now, so they can have more balance in their lives. Getting bigger is often required to have people to delegate to. Then, your job is to lead and inspire them.
Realizing you Vision: Developing Your Plan
- Plan annually and update quarterly. The planning process is more important than the plan. This is the perfect time of year to start your plan.
- Develop your Mission: your Mission is your purpose, your companies polarizing force and reason for existence. It usually does not change from year to year. It speaks to what you value, how you want your employees to act and what you want to be recognized for by the community and your customers; what your company stands for.
- Explore your Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (we call this a S.W.O.T analysis). This is both an internal and external assessment of your world. You’ll want to solve for your weaknesses, be aware of the threats and capitalize on your strengths and opportunities. Weaknesses prevent you from achieving your vision.
- Identify your Annual Objectives; examples include revenue goals, customer satisfaction rates, leads and gross profit.
- Develop your strategies – these are your areas of focus that will drive you to meet your objectives.
- Develop your action Plan: Your Action Plan is your year one road map towards the accomplishment of your vision. Review your weaknesses. What projects should you do to improve them? Consider your market profile. What marketing initiatives should you focus on? How will your Objectives be realized?
Communicating Your Vision
It takes a team to reach the Summit. You can only get there with help from your key employees. Without them on board, you can’t climb the mountain.
Leading Change, by John P. Kotter, is a foundational book for implementation. In the book, Kotter talks about the importance of continually communicating the vision to employees in words and deeds. That means in as many interactions as possible – formal, informal, as a group, and individually. Growth and change are impossible unless employees are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, employees’ hearts and minds are never captured. It’s not enough to read it once at a company meeting (although that’s the start!). The Vision must be kept “top of mind” and be constantly incorporated in your communications and decisions. I encourage you to keep your company visions close by and incorporate pieces of it in your weekly meetings.
In starting the ascent to your Summit, remember to celebrate the small victories along the way. This will create a feeling of accomplishment in your company. The point is to make sure that your people see their efforts are successful; that they are not wasting their time. It will show them you are committed to walking the talk and will keep them motivated. Tackle one or maybe two projects at most. Communicate the projects continually to the company. Explain how they tie into the vision. Plan it, do it and celebrate it.
These challenges are met only through planning, organizing and implementing a plan to make things happen. The result is a focused organization dedicated to achieving the goals and vision you have set.
What’s your Summit?