Advice from Yellowstone

In September, I had an exciting vacation with family in Yellowstone National Park. It was one of our all-time favorite trips. The time in the outdoors really provided me with fresh air and reflection time. I picked up several “Advice from . . ." writings authored by Ilan Shamir. I'd like to share those with you and expand the thinking for you to apply to your business.

Be natural

Be the leader that your employees, colleagues and friends need you to be. Even natural-born leaders sometime find it challenging to be vulnerable. Remember, let them see your authentic and genuine self.

Listen to the wind

Stop and listen to what is happening in your business. Are you asking customers for feedback – and listening to their responses? Do you listen to what your employees are saying (or not saying) about you, the organization, the customers, etc.? Your customers and employees are saying a lot. Are you listening?

Cherish wide open space

Sometimes the walls of the business seem like they may be closing in on you. Walk outside, breathe in the air – enjoy the open space with your staff. Even your staff needs space to create, innovate and develop. Be sure to give yourself and them the space they need to think!

Tread lightly

Don’t take anything for granted. Your most valuable assets are your people – they may be your staff, strategic partners or customers. Appreciate your relationships and the importance of their impact to your business.

Take time to reflect

Be sure to schedule time to reflect and grow! You need the time to work on your business – not just in it! Make the time to celebrate your success and replicate what has worked well and also to redesign what may need some special attention.

Go with the flow

Sometimes, you may find that you are making things a bit more difficult than they need to be. The rigidness and responsibilities of owning a business can be overwhelming. Although "anything is not okay," it can be very refreshing to think outside of the box and allow open brainstorming and creation, both for yourself and your employees. Sometimes you may need to try something new – and see what happens. You may be surprised.

Let off a little steam

When was the last time you had FUN? Is it part of the culture of your organization? Do you provide team building opportunities for your employees to learn, grow and have fun with one another? You may want to consider scheduling time within your organization to recharge and reinvest in one another!

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13 Questions: Is your company growing too fast?

A recent national shipping company's television advertisement began with a company manager in a panic describing all of the issues he is facing has because of a great spike of growth in the business. Following the manager's tantrum, a worker simply asked the raving manager, "But isn't growth the reason why we are in the business?"

Growth should be a goal of any business, but growth should also be carefully planned. Impatience can lead to a number of common mishaps: the failed launch of a new product or service, expanding into an unfamiliar field before the company is ready, buying new equipment before you can actually afford it, or making an acquisition without proper due diligence. Should you curb your current growth plan?

Answer the following 13 questions, True or False and find out.

  1. Every day you're running in a constant crisis mode.
  2. You don't have any time to each month to evaluate what's going on in your industry.
  3. You've hired more temporary help than permanent employees in order to keep up with demand.
  4. You seem to get less financial return for every dollar you add to the payroll.
  5. Your posted job openings outnumber the number of workers you currently employ.
  6. Your back orders have grown substantially beyond your standard lead time.
  7. Your adoption of new technology is either well ahead or well behind a company of your size.
  8. Customer complaints are increasing.
  9. Your overhead costs are skyrocketing.
  10. Your existing customers are not getting the attention they deserve because you're pursuing new clients.
  11. Cash flow is tight because of your expenses and debts.
  12. Employees or a product group are putting a strain on the overall profitability of the company.
  13. You don't have a good handle on accounts receivable management or the finances.

If you answered True to more than three of these questions, your company is probably at risk of becoming out of your own control.

Take a step back and analyze what degree of growth is sustainable, profitable, and feasible for your business, and adjust your operations to make that growth a reality. This might require you to sideline some projects, or hold off on your dream of bigger offices, or even wait before adding staff. But in the end, your company will emerge stronger.

ThistleSea Business Development, has the resources and the expertise to help you grow a sustainable business. Give us a call at 724.935.1930 to schedule a confidential session to discuss your specific situation.

Adapted from Inc Magazine. Is your company growing too fast for you to keep up? - Gray, Keaton; August 2009.