When first meeting my clients, I always work with them on visualizing the future they want to achieve. I’ve had some interesting responses ranging from being able to spend more time pursuing personal endeavors to “I’d like my husband to treat my employees and children better.” Another client had a vision to reduce the stress of negotiating a few large contracts every year. I have yet to meet the client that said I want to grow revenue by 10% a year while maintaining 20% net profit margins.
I had a client about two years ago that got herself into a pretty deep hole. Her spending habits far exceeded the businesses ability to generate profits. When I first met her, it was the opinion of my associate that the firm should file for bankruptcy. Accounts payable exceeded last year’s net profits, she had expensive loans requiring weekly payments and a large customer of hers had declared bankruptcy. At first glance, it did appear hopeless, and that bankruptcy was the best option.
Her vision was to be relieved of the constant anxiety of managing to pay the bills. She wanted to retire, have the company provide a good living for her family and herself. She had worked hard for over ten years and was devastated when considering losing it all. So, we put a plan together to achieve her dream.
I worked with this client for about six months. We established a cash management program and began catching up on accounts payables. We substantially shortened the order-to-paid cycle-time and generated approximately $600,000 in cash, instituted a sales program that resulted in obtaining a huge contract, and doubled the revenue per employee by reducing employees and establishing a bonus program.
The point I’m making here is you need a plan to achieve your dreams. You had one when you started your company, and you have probably achieved your original dream. You have run your original plan to fruition. What you most likely haven’t done is refine your vision or establish new goals along with a plan to achieve them.
It’s going to be harder this time around. There are more people involved, more employees, more clients and skills required that you didn’t need when starting out. You probably provide an exceptional product or service and built your business on this foundation. To get to the next level, you need to implement processes and lead employees to continue to provide the exceptional services you provided. Leading and motivating people is not the skill set that got your business off the ground. It’s likely not a skill set you planned to acquire when you started your company. It needs to be in your plan to going forward.
Here’s the catch 22, you’re under stress because what you were doing that worked well and created the successes you have enjoyed is not working as well now. You need to acquire new skills and to develop new habits to reach your new goals, and while it’s your stress levels that are encouraging you to change, they are also making change more difficult.
According to Shana Lebowitz:
“In one experiment, scientists found that stress hormones inhibit activity in the areas of the brain involving goal-directed behavior — but not in areas of the brain involved in habitual behavior. In other words, when you’re under stress, you’re likely to fall back into old patterns instead of changing your behavior to achieve specific goals.”
You need a vision, a plan, and the discipline to stick with the plan to achieve your vision.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: