I think of success in two ways one is the very objective measures of sales volume, sales dollars and, of course, net income. But I measure success in other ways, as well.
As I have been in this business for the last 13 years, I’ve often found some years where we are achieving more of the fundamental successes for the business, such as planting seeds and fertilizing those plants, which bear fruit in years ahead. Those are extremely important measures that we watch, knowing that in the coming years, the seeds we plant will bear fruit.
While you plant the seed by achieving an initial visit to communicate with a prospective account, the reality is you then have to maintain regular contact and provide them with examples of the services you provide. All the while you are not doing business; rather, you are confirming the kinds of activities you initially promised.
It could literally take months, possibly years, before the right confluence of events takes place that you have established yourself, you have maintained that contact, they have seen on a regular basis the services you provide, and they have made a decision to contract with you.
Review your goals.
We have a formal once-a-year process of establishing a business plan that looks at the upcoming year and establishes concise, clear and achievable goals for each of our businesses. We formally audit our results against that plan on a quarterly basis, but we look at it more often than that to see if we need to make adjustments as the year unfolds.
It’s very necessary for any CEO to establish that, and more importantly, to communicate that to employees in its totality so they can provide input and have a clear understanding of what should be accomplished.
We have constant communication with employees. We think that as events unfold in either a positive or negative way, that there should be immediate feedback to those involved. Formally, we get together once every four months and review our plan. We communicate with our employees, but also seek their advice on business.
A leader needs strong communications skills, both in the spoken and written word. It’s very important to keep your organization informed on your strategy, but not in too complex a way (so) that it’s confusing and makes it difficult to establish clear, concise, achievable goals.
If you cannot provide a clear and concise strategy, I think the organization can get off track and involve itself in too many different activities that could cause you to not achieve what you set out to achieve in the first place.
Establish a code of ethics.
A business leader should establish a code of ethics that creates an umbrella for how the company and all of its employees conduct themselves in daily business life.
I try to establish that code of strong ethics here, and following that, I leave the day-to-day business in the good hands of the very good people we have selected to run the company. We have provided them clear goals, provide them overall direction and strategy for the company, and let them go to work.
(A leader) is a type of person that has that capability to recognize when someone is knocking and to answer the door. It’s been my experience that it takes a particular kind of individual.
With others, frankly, opportunity could be banging the door down, and that person simply doesn’t hear it. But you should use all the tools at your disposal to recognize the knock at the door. It consists of being well-informed and using your contacts, your relationships and the Internet to stay abreast of opportunities that may exist.
Find employees who also recognize opportunities. In an employee, I look for a strong ability to communicate. That’s very important in business. The other is, try to ascertain if they have the special trait for hearing opportunity knock. I try my best to identify if that person has that trait or not.
We have grown in a very limited way. We are able to do our business with a small number of employees. We follow our motto closely: ‘Focus on what you do best, and outsource the rest.’
In our case, we focus on marketing. We outsource advertising, legal and payroll all sorts of things we determined not to be central to core marketing effort.
Balance your life.
I can’t say there is a standard answer for balancing your life. There are individuals that make life decisions to invest quite heavily in certain aspects of life, such as work.
I don’t think one should go against their desire to do as they wish, but I believe much more in the balanced lifestyle. I make a concerted effort to manage all parts of my life in a way that ensures that I don’t get bogged down in any single one of my activities.
HOW TO REACH: The Plaza Group, www.theplazagrp.com