As 2012 comes to an end and you are planning for 2013, there are many things to consider.  The purpose of this post is to help propel you forward quicker in 2013 than in 2012.  You can revisit the planning that you do each and every year:  setting goals, budgets, getting the team on board, reviewing and updating your vision, mission and values, etc., but I have one question for you to answer as you are going through all of this:

If you were going to hand the reins over to your successor on January 1, 2013, what advice would you give them if you wanted them, and the business, to be as successful as possible?

 Here are the things that I would be exploring in that question:

  • What additional products or services should you be selling that you haven’t gotten to so far?  What are those new initiatives that you want to pursue that you have not had the resources to tackle? Whether the constraints have been monetary, time or human resources, figure out how to get it done.
  • Do you have the right people on the bus and sitting in the right seats?  Quite often companies have the right people on the bus, just not in the right seat (role).  Other times there are people that need to get off the bus and others that need to get on the bus (changes in staffing).
  • What products or services do you need to jettison because they are not profitable?  All companies have them.  There is typically something you are providing that is not profitable, or customer segments that are not profitable.  Whichever they may be, get rid of them!
  • What practices should you have in place that you are missing?  Are there certain practices you should be engaged in that you are not doing?  All businesses have them.  You could be leveraging technology better, changing how you interact with customers, employees, etc.
  • What practices are in place that don’t add any value to your business that you should stop doing?  In the accounting world we call this SALY or ‘Same As Last Year’.  What practices are being carried out in your business that have always been there but you know they need to change?  This is the year to change them.
  • And the biggest question: Once your successor takes over on January 1, 2013, what is the one thing that you know needs to be done to propel the business forward but you have been afraid to tackle?

The last question should be stirring up some uncomfortable feelings for you:  the things that are hard to tackle, changes you know need to be made, discussions you know you have to engage in but haven’t wanted to face.  This is the time to start unpeeling that onion and revealing the layers underneath.  Uncovering the layers to the onion are also the steps that help you to grow professionally and are necessary for your business to flourish.  Go ahead, take the step.  You will never know what is on the other side unless you take the step.

I understand that these tough questions may not be ones that you can tackle right away and they may require some coaching.  The point of this post is to help you uncover those tough changes that are required to really propel you forward and help you advance in your journey.  If you need help with this process, let me know.