January 6, 2021

Five Thoughts On Getting Ready For Take-Off!

woman holding phone on plane wearing mask

Please prepare for take-off by bringing your seats and tray tables to an upright position …

I couldn’t help but think about the entrepreneurial challenges that lay ahead on a recent flight. We were all seated and the captain came over the loudspeaker with our instructions. My mind drifted to think about how we should prepare for entrepreneurial take-off?

Businesses are a lot like airplanes—everyone gets in, and we hit the hammer to get somewhere. We want to get there as quickly, safely, and as efficiently as we can. As we look to the future, it’s obvious that many businesses have been dealt a reset by the happenings of this year. Many businesses, large and small, new and old, have had their clock reset to 2, 3, 4 years in terms of operating results due to some tough times. Even if you have thrived during tough times, there is never a bad time to “sit-upright” and plan for the future.

Here are five things to think about as you get ready for take-off:

1. Check that you are truly doing something that you love! What you “love” does not always mean its peaches-and-cream all the time. There are down moments. But generally speaking, you love the business you are in or about to launch. If it is an existing business with some staff, think about assigning some of the things that you may not love or are driving you a little nuts to one of your staff (or a consultant / part-timer). Focus on the big things and what you do best, not the little things.

2. Now is a good time to really torture your numbers and results. Taking a look at a few time periods worth of data about your customers, orders, revenue, operating costs, and margins should provide you with some insights about what you need to focus on and do better. I would even proffer that you have a few business-minded friends or mentors give the numbers a look, and ask them for unvarnished advice and insights.

3. Has your staff been the “right” staff over this past year? Have they stepped up to be part of the solution or sort of been happy to sit in the back of the plane? As an example: If you have transitioned to work-from-home during challenging times, have some of your team still remained super focused and making a difference? For the staff that has really stepped up, reward them lavishly, on both a short term and also a long-term basis. Too often as owners we work on the problem ‘children’ and forget the ones that really are doing great things. Conversely, if your staff has not been the right staff, bite the bullet and move them on. The unemployment benefits nowadays are as generous as they have ever been, and now is a good time to clean the ‘plane’ for the next leg of the journey.

4. Take a fresh look at your competition and see what they did well and not so well. There are always things to learn, good and bad, by looking around. Are there businesses with a similar business model to yours that have thrived? What did they do? What have been the two or three most creative things you have seen business do? Can you do them?

5. Do you have your vision right? Does everyone in the company, no matter how large or small, including you, know where you are going? People are energized and catalyzed by a realistic and aspirational vision/mission. Make sure the big picture and the horizon is clear for everyone. While everyone wants a paycheck for their efforts, they also want to feel like they are part of something bigger, with energy and a destination.

So, as you get ready for take-off, take the time to think and assess!

Originally posted on Forbes.