I love the holidays for many reasons including the fact that it is a time for me to reflect on my business–look at the numbers and review new and existing client accounts. It’s a time for evaluating what is working and for thinking about next year’s goals for my business. Fortunately I have a great accountant in Patrick Accounting and they help me make good decisions based on my financials and how healthy I am. My banker, Dana Burkett of First State Bank is also my trusted advisor who helps me think through successful financial strategies for my business. Along with wise counsel, you must also possess what I call the three P’s: positivity, planning and production. One might also add “profit” to this but I believe if you are practicing the three, then profits come as the result. How do you stay positive when negative forces abound? How do you plan for a successful next year? How can you produce better and more work in the next year? If these are questions you have, I hope my tips below are inspirational.
Positivity: Wouldn’t it be great if every news segment began with the top positive stories of the day? Don’t you prefer to be around people who have positive things to communicate? Sure, most of us migrate toward positives. We reward positive outcomes and promotions often come to those who are positive. I am convinced that being successful in business is directly tied to being positive and optimistic. Sometimes we all have negative experiences but those should be used to create lessons learned or “teaching moments” (as a friend of mine often says) to promote positive outcomes in business. Here are some things I have learned and observed in business about positivity:
1. People who are positive are more likely to influence others: Positive people are optimistic and think they can do whatever job is at hand. This “can do” attitude is contagious and often adopted by others around them.
2. Being positive creates a successful image. Have you ever heard the phrase, “everybody loves a winner?” This is so true in business. The C-suite wants positive, winning employees.
3. Positivity allows you to look at problems and negatives in ways that create solutions. Negatives aren’t necessarily a bad thing in business and they certainly exist daily. The positive person will view a negative in a constructively critical way to find a solution.
4. Clients and customers want positive. You cannot own and run a business and stay critical and negative. When faced with difficult client challenges or problems, my team must always solve the issues in positive, professional ways. Sometimes it is not easy to stay positive but you must. My co-author Anne D. Gallaher and I share stories about “emotional resilience” on this topic in our new book, “Women in High Gear.”
5. Positive breeds more positive. I don’t know about karma, but I do believe that if you surround yourself with positive people in business, you get more of the same at every turn.
Planning: I know this word is overused and under appreciated but it is so important. I love the phrase “plan your work and work your plan.” If we do that, we succeed. So many businesses don’t have a plan. They have an idea or a concept or a product but no plan. Strategic planning is the lifeblood to any successful organization. It is the roadmap to where you need to go. Without it you will waste time and resources trying to find it. So here are my points on planning:
1. A plan doesn’t have to be a complicated, lengthy process or document. It just needs to ensure that the organization’s time and resources are going to yield results. This could be as simple as this: Our company needs to generate $100,000 in sales of service X and here is who will buy that and here is how we are going to get them to. Pretty simple but very critical.
2. Planning forces you to stop and review and analyze facts and figures. If you have to do a plan for your business, you cannot do it without asking these questions. The questions help you develop strategy for the planned outcomes.
3. A plan is something you can cross check throughout the year and see if you are on track. It helps you measure your progress.
4. Plans can be (and should be) altered and changed based on events and things that impact a business.
5. A plan becomes the organization’s ongoing report card, updated yearly and can be valuable during a potential merger or disposition of a business. There’s not an investment banker I know that doesn’t value business plans.
Production: I love this word. Productive people create production in businesses. There is another phrase I have heard and like “if you need someone to get it done, ask the busiest person.” Busy and productive people get a lot done because they can and they know how. Production also requires that the right tasks/jobs be done first. Here are my five points on the value of production:
1. Productive people can be hard to keep up with and irritating or intimidating to others so their challenge is to help others become more like them. Good producers will know how to leverage other’s skills.
2. Producers get better compensation and more promotions because they identify and secure more revenue/work for their organizations. “He (or she) who has the gold makes the rules.” Most effective executives have had to earn their places by rolling up the sleeves and producing at whatever level tasked.
3. Clients and customers like people who can produce. Results matter and I think organizations are looking for people who want to make positive impacts to the bottom-line everyday.
4. Producers are usually those that can handle many things at one time. I used to work with an attorney who was a top producer for the law firm and he would pace in his office, talk on his land line and answer his cell all at the same time and never miss anything. They have this ability to listen to more than a few conversations at an event and can network across a room faster than most.
5. Not everyone is a producer and that is fine. It takes all types of people to make an organization run–if you are not a producer you might consider helping one. I saw a sign I liked that said “if you aren’t serving a customer, find somebody who is and serve them.”
What would you add to this list of tips and observations?