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So You're Stuck: Dealing with Challenges in Business

Written by  Barnett Gershen

“Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight.” - Henry R. Luce

Everyone who runs a business gets stuck from time to time. The question is, "What are you going to do about it?"

Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

In the beginning of your business, preparation began with a well thought-out plan, working hard to achieve it, and then enjoying the rewards. However, there are bumps along the way that can result in "getting stuck." According to Dr. Ichak Adizes, one of the world's leading experts on improving business performance through fundamental change, businesses are like living entities, and they experience life cycles and tend to stagnate at one point or another. Proper management through these phases has a significant impact on the success or failure of your company.

Problems are normal and can even be desirable. Most problems occur as a result of change. Focusing on your ability to recognize and resolve problems will be the key to your success. Upon recognition of the most significant and unusual challenges, one way to move forward would be to partner with an associate or a consultant, who has successfully "navigated the waters.” There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The stage of "Prime is the fountain of youth for organizations,” according to Dr. Adizes, having maneuvered through the adolescent stage, which is a make or break. Unlike other living entities, there is no need to prepare for ultimate death; prepare for stability and flourish.

Proper handling of the challenging phases can mean the difference between life and death (or a slow demise) of a company. A revitalization of goals is often necessary to overcome the "stuck" point. Warm up for the process by confirming your mission statement. A well-developed mission statement should reflect the reason you launched your business in the first place. It can be something simple, such as “to profitably offer the best building services company in the state.” A mission statement should be clear, concise, and objective—all stakeholders must understand it and be committed to it. All actions that the company takes should be directed toward achieving this mission.

A power booster for “unsticking” can be your vision statement, which is born from looking at where you are and envisioning where you want to go. For example, you are at $10MM in 2012 and want to be at $20MM in 2018. Incremental goals should be stated for each year using the SMARTS method. According to the SMARTS method, each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Framed, and Stretching. The challenge is to make it stretching AND achievable. Realistically, can you say that you can achieve 10-percent growth each year if you have the right people in the right places with the right tactical and strategic plans?

An additional compelling force should be your key objectives. These objectives could be listed as:

  • Increasing sales
  • Improving customer retention
  • Increasing profitability
  • Building the best team
  • Creating the right tactical and strategic plans

All should be defined in numbered terms, so they can be rolled into job descriptions that can be measured and managed. You now have a general roadmap as to how to get to the next level. As Lewis Carrol said in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.”

Now you have planned your work, and it is time to roll up your sleeves and work your plan. After you’ve created the above as a foundation, “any road will not work.” You choose the “road less traveled” and put one step forward down that road by making the decision to move forward. This is where you make the decision to get outside help via consultants, webinars, industry resources, etc., the equivalent of “knowing what you don’t know.”

Creating the right tactical plan inevitably will serve as the road map to your future. Hopefully, this article will result in your decision to take action. A follow-up article will take an in depth look at how to develop your own tactical plan and best practices. With that in your arsenal, you are prepared to work toward the future rather than being stagnated in the present or hindered by the past. This is just a conceptual overview of how to get unstuck, and resources are available when you make the decision to move forward.

Barnett Gershen is owner/CEO of Gershen Consulting, LLC, and consults with BSC’s across the U.S and Canada. He is available for questions and/or consults at 713.839.1990.


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