Burning a candle at both ends only works when you have a candle. Even then, it is still one candle. There is only so much wax and wick to use, so making sure you are maximizing longevity not only increases your chances for success, but also increases your chances to overcome the frustrations and uncertainty.
There are three foundational parts from which to work to achieve your biggest business goals: a realistic overview; a mid- to long-term vision for at least 12 consecutive months; and plan integration plus execution.
When you know there is a problem to solve, you have a way to deliver a solution. Whether when you want to revitalize an industry, or when choosing to positively impact your community by opening a business that hires and serves locally — or any of the other infinite reasons to start a business — you are starting with a purpose.
Know what is necessary.
To assess what is possible, it is necessary to know what exists. Whether you lean into your gut, heart, or head to sift information, all three come with blind spots. When knowing where you naturally begin assessing information, it is possible to add questions to discover other facets that influence what you see as reality versus what reality is.
To know yourself and your blindspots, here are questions to complement what comes naturally:
Bring in your heart — Emotional Intelligence:
What causes you to play small? When do you step forward regardless of what’s happening? How do you respond to your own (and another’s) big emotions?
Bring in your head — Logical Experience:
Do you believe you can do this? What do you think or feel you need to make this happen? What experience may be insightful to the journey you are on right now?
Bring in your gut — Situational Reality:
What is going on here? Can you and your team get it done? What external factors will influence decisions along the way? What is the state of your business (cash flow health, pipeline, and capacity)?
This is true for your most trusted advisors, too. Everyone involved in making the highest level of business decisions must be ready to face themselves as much as the long-term vision and individual situations.
Strengthening your head, heart, and gut connection further strengthens your innate talent. And because of that, you can trust your instincts even more.
To build your inner compass, a realistic view is necessary. You learn how to answer the question: How can we align this with our current strategy?
There are three techniques for making the right decision at the right time:
- Consider the consequences: Think through the potential outcomes of each option and consider the short- and long-term consequences of your decision.
- Consult with others: Seek advice and feedback from others who have experience or expertise in the area where you are making the decision. This can help you gain a new perspective and consider overlooked factors.
- Trust your instincts: Your intuition can be a valuable tool in decision-making. If something doesn’t feel right, take the time to understand why and consider an alternative.
Do everything possible.
Committing to time in your weekly schedule to do the necessary work is also the time to review and make priority changes … essentially doing everything possible to reach your biggest goals.
Growth is relative to your goal. Once you are clear about what growth looks like for your business, then you can build a strategy for impactful growth in one (or more) of these four categories:
- New Customers
- New Products
- Expand Products
- Expand Customers
Then, ruthlessly prioritize what will move you toward your growth goal. Referencing back to head, heart, and gut checks about the state of your company makes prioritizing simpler (not necessarily easier).
Follow these steps to find out what is possible and how your team can do as much as they can:
- For every open initiative, write about existing processes — or create a new system if one does not exist — requiring recourses. (NOTE: this is NOT a task list)
- Rank the initiatives by the impact on growth as you’ve defined it.
- Now, rank initiatives by the ability of your team to act.
- Be ruthless. Cut the bottom half of the list and be OK not doing those actions in order to focus on what matters to your growth.
This is where blindspots not only show up in every possible disguise but old (and sometimes wrong) assumptions but also appear as unrecognized attachments.
What is necessary and what actions your team can do is unique to the strength of the way your company does business. So, take a close look at what makes the cut and use your protected time each week (I call this a Present Retreat) to review progress, make any prioritization adjustments, and decide how to clarify existing plans to every person.
You may see change, or you may see more success than you ever imagined.
How much change or leaps of success depends on how well you:
- are accountable to what is necessary and what is possible.
- utilize an outside set of eyes to support and navigate with you.
- commit to the time required to do the right work.
- are honestly assessing what has happened so you can make realistic changes.
And then, the impossible happens.
Focus and discipline allows you to know yourself and the true uniqueness of the people working with you. The problem you solve will illuminate trends you see before anyone else. This becomes a competitive advantage:
- You sense and begin thinking about addressing a change before it becomes a problem.
- You know what is most important and what your team has the skill and capacity to do, and you adjust accordingly.
- Your plan is not set in stone, and the ability to change course becomes part of the journey.
This is the core of making the right decision at the right time. You are integrating what you learn as you go, prioritizing and adapting in the day-to-day, and raising the bar on what is an opportunity for business growth.
In addition to participating in the Driving Solutions Intensive, which we offer twice a year, I leave you with these two tips from serving thousands of businesses and hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs:
- Practice mindfulness: Take a step back and reflect on your thoughts and emotions. This can help you stay focused and make more thoughtful decisions.
- Learn from experience: Reflect on past decisions and their outcomes. Identify what worked well and didn’t, and use that knowledge to inform future decisions.
Remember that making the right decision at the right time is not always about achieving perfection every single day. Instead, it’s about learning and adapting from what is in and out of your control.
Your head, heart, and gut are powerful, existing tools you can tap into — reflecting on past knowledge and each new business growth experience you have.
Sometimes it is imperative that you make the right decision at the right time.
Don’t wait. Start using the information here to help shift your focus from tasks and dollars to priorities and how you define business growth for your company.
Only when working with a realistic overview that builds awareness, stamina, and deep knowledge will you know which decisions you must make the first time. These include
- When M&A (mergers and acquisitions) conversations are the most beneficial.
- Choices that make sure you get what you want from the business.
- Opportunities to make a difference in your industry.
- How an unexpected situation impacts your team at and away from work.
- When to proceed with caution due to a legal or emergency.
It takes guts to own a business and be an entrepreneur.
With your trusted advisor — and if you don’t have one, reach out to us — begin working on these things:
- Commit to a weekly Present Retreat: This protected time gives you the space to think bigger, have a business reality check, and make adjustments to stay the course.
- Take calculated risks: Carefully evaluate a decision’s potential risks and benefits before taking action. A calculated risk has a reasonable chance of success, and you can afford to lose if things don’t go as planned.
- Learn from shortfalls: Failure is a natural part of taking risks but can also be a valuable learning experience. Instead of fearing failure, embrace it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
Believe in yourself.
Believe in your abilities and trust you have what it takes to succeed. Building self-confidence can help you overcome the fear of taking risks and provide the courage to pursue your goals. Your success can arrive regardless of your academic or business knowledge.
All the information here points to one strategy you use to lead your company.
None of the information says to work, play, or burn the candle at both ends. There is a reason for that. Growth requires guts and confidence. Taking risks and believing in yourself requires time and effort to build. There are no shortcuts.
This important work will reduce unnecessary problems and uncertainty so that you have MORE time and MORE capacity to face the big challenges that arise.
You read this because you seek something you don’t have yet. I am here to tell you it is already within you.
I am excited to work with you to develop the three-part foundation from which to achieve the growth you want for your business.
Learn more about Driving Solutions Strategic Intensive Framework here, and reserve your spot for June.