On the evening of December 26, 1776 General George Washington led 2,400 men across a treacherous ice-packed Delaware River to capture 1,000 British and Hussein soldiers encamped in Trenton New Jersey. This monumental victory came at the end of a calamitous year in which his army had been soundly defeated in several battles in New York and had been forced to retreat to Pennsylvania. His men were poorly equipped, poorly clothed, stricken with disease, nearly at the end of their enlistment, hungry and demoralized. But, all that changed with the victory at Trenton.
This monumental victory in America’s fight for independence points out two significant lessons that business owners need to learn.
Lesson 1: Washington never lost focus on what it would take to beat the British. Today most small business owners aren’t focused on what it takes to grow their business. Their focus is on working IN the business instead of ON the business. Washington wasn’t rowing the boat with his men; he was standing at the front of one boat leading the charge. Where are you? Leading or doing the work of your business?
Where Should Business Owners Focus?
* Your vision for the business – if you don’t have a clear vision for the business, it will be hard to inspire and motivate your employees (American soldiers were fighting for freedom, British and Hussein were fighting for money)
* Your team – hire the best, inspire them, motivate them, train them and compensate them
* Your profits – develop strategies that lead to increased profits, measure results, and tweak strategies until you find the right combinations
* Yourself – if you don’t believe that your company is the very best at what it does, why should your employees and your customers.
a. Your vision
What is your vision for your business? Do you have one? Do you have a vision for your personal life as well? If you do not have a vision for your business, a destination, how can you make quality decisions…you don’t know where you are going.
"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.' Which road do I take?' she asked. 'Where do you want to go?' was his response. 'I don't know,' Alice answered. 'Then,' said the cat, 'it doesn't matter.’” -- Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Without a clear vision for your business you will have a hard time inspiring employees. Effectively communicate a clear destination and watch your employees help you move in the direction of achieving that vision.
b. Your team
Your most valuable asset as an owner is your employees. Yet, most business owners don’t spend much time focused on helping their team become better at what they do. If the owner doesn’t hire top quality people, train them, and trust them to perform delegated work, how does the owner ever expect to live the lifestyle he/she envisioned?
c. Your profits
All too often owners make running their business difficult because their focus isn’t on growing their business but rather on doing the work of the business. These owners are busy (they’re in busyness) but profit growth isn’t up to it’s potential. When profit generating strategies are properly executed (being in business) profits can increase dramatically (doubling and tripling in 12 months).
Often the biggest impediment to a business succeeding is the mindset of the owner. Owners with a negative mindset or lacking confidence limit the success of their business. These owners aren’t inspiring so employee morale and productivity suffers, and the best employees leave. Successful people see the opportunities which those mired in negatively fail to see.
Lesson 2: You as the leader of your business, have a huge impact on the success of the business. With a confident leader who understood what was at stake, who was willing to take a calculated risk and who treated his men with respect and appreciated their sacrifices, the Americans scored a decisive victory in beating a larger, better trained and provisioned enemy. Several of Washington’s Lieutenants were against the bold attack, but Washington trusted his judgement
Had Washington been weak, and indecisive this victory would never have happened. How decisive are you in making decisions? Do you analyze situations, involve others in key decisions, and make informed decisions? Or, are you afraid of making a wrong decision, and as a result don’t act and miss great growth opportunities?
Do you ever wonder how much money your business has lost due to indecision? You’d probably be amazed.
Conclusion: Where is your focus? I work with business owners to get them focused on these aspects of their business. With that focus and the learnings they acquire, we have been able to achieve massive results for their businesses. As a mentor I also help them build their decision-making skills with the intention of reducing indecision.