I'm not convinced that most small business owners know where CEOs should focus their attention. Small business owners tend to be very busy, but not always focusing on the right stuff. Everyone is busy being busy, but do they ever get anything done that actually matters? I try to teach small business owners how to focus on what really matters in a small business, rather than whatever happens to fall on their desk or make its way into their email inbox. I wrote out a list of six things that I think a small business CEO should focus on and arranged them in a logical order.
The vision of a small business is important and there is a reason it is number one on my list. Nothing can be done effectively until there is a clear vision in place for the business. A business' mission is what you do; a vision is where you want to go. When developing a vision statement for your small business, think ahead 10+ years down the road.
Create a clear vision statement for your business and communicate it throughout your team. Make sure that the daily actions of everyone in the organization support your vision.
2. Exit Plan
Creating an exit plan for your business is also a critical step if you want to grow. It can seem silly to create an exit plan when you are just founding the business. However, an exit plan can help keep you focused on your end goal. It also sets a definitive trigger in terms of when you should implement your exit plan. Don't think that exit planning is a one-way street to selling your business. Some examples of an exit plan include: bringing on an equity partner, taking a less-involved role, going public, passing the business on to your children, or retiring.
Create an exit plan for your business and make sure that your daily actions as a CEO support both your vision and your exit plan.
3. Growth Opportunities
With a clear vision and an exit plan in place, you are ready to grow your business. Think of all the different opportunities you have that you could implement and then make a list of them. That list should be something that you reference and refine to grow your business. As you look it over, what are the one or two best opportunities that you think you have to grow your business? What are you most excited about?
Identify key growth opportunities for your business and have them analyzed to determine whether you should implement them.
4. Strategic Planning
I'm going to really simplify strategic planning, since it is such a huge topic that I could write several posts about it. The small business mentoring services that we offer essentially walks a business owner through the process of strategic planning. For each opportunity on our list, we do an analysis to see if we think it's a good opportunity to pursue. We look at things such as assessing what resources you need; the risks involved and how to manage them; how to market and sell the opportunity; a financial analysis and a plan; and what money you might need to raise. There is a lot more to strategic planning, but the process is meant to be thorough with a definitive conclusion as to whether or not you should pursue a particular opportunity.
Go through the strategic planning process for each opportunity to determine if that opportunity is worth pursuing or not. This is meant to take the guess work out and give you a plan to implement.
5. Organizational Chart
If you do identify an opportunity that you are going to pursue to grow your business, you next need to develop or modify your organizational chart. Think about the team that you are going to need to implement your growth opportunity and carry out your vision. Developing an organizational chart may seem silly if you are a really small business, but believe me, it is extremely important.
Develop an organizational chart that enables you to implement your growth strategy and ultimately make your vision a reality.
6. Job Descriptions
I debated putting this on the list as I'm not sure it is high-level enough to be on your list as a CEO. However, depending upon how small your business is, you may not have a team that can handle this task. Every position on the organizational chart needs a clear job description associated with it. You also need to be sure that the structure is in place to ensure that everyone stays on task with regard to their job description.
Having job descriptions in place for each position will keep everyone working toward the ultimate goal of carrying out your vision.
Don't get off track as the CEO of your business. Make sure that you define clear goals and keep the organization on track and working toward them at all times.