What are TODAY'S real top priorities for both you and your company? They may have changed since you last looked.
If you're busy slaying daily dragons, priorities can change without warning. And you may not even notice -- until it's too late to do something about it. Instead of dragons setting the agenda for you and your company, invest ten minutes on this pop quiz.
Because either you or your daily dragons WILL control your Agenda for the Future.
It won't take long to review which of these thirteen major issues are the most critical ones to your future. It's not complicated. Either print out this page using your web browser software and circle them -- or just jot down on a sheet of paper which ones are top priorities for you.
Biggest Problems Currently:
Almost by definition, your five biggest problems are those that are specific to you and your company. Invariably, most, if not all, will be top priority issues. Limit yourself to the five biggest ones here -- even if the list seems much bigger.
Best Opportunities Currently:
Like the five biggest problems above, your best current opportunities are going to be specific to you and specific to today. But are you really giving them the top priority they deserve? Or, are your daily dragons preventing you from focusing on them? Or, distracting you to the point of even spending enough time to identify which are your five best current opportunities?
- Expansion plans
- New branches or stores
Growth can be positive or negative. Up or down. What, specifically, have you planned for growth, or right-sizing, that reflects today's and tomorrow's reality for your company? Which of these issues, if any, should be a top priority for your company today?
- Next month
- Next quarter
- Next year
- If you were to set goals today, which of these would be your highest priority? Hint: one of these SHOULD be a top priority. When was the last time you looked critically at yesterday's goals to see if they still apply to today's reality?
Marketing & Sales:
- New products/markets
- Company image
One, or more, of these issues, are usually top priorities for nearly all of my clients. What proactive steps did your company implement this month to measurably increase revenues over the next six months? To introduce new products or services? To identify and attack new markets for your existing products or services? To compete more effectively? Caution: complacency here can be fatal.
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- Cash flow
- Capital formation
It isn't unusual for every one of these issues to be a top priority item for many of my clients. That's not surprising since inattention to these issues, more than most others, will determine if your business STAYS in business. Beyond meeting this week's payroll, what exactly are you going to be doing about these same issues six months from now? To keep them from being ongoing problems? To keep them from becoming a lethal dragon attack?
When was the last time you focused on potential, major changes in your corporate goals? Issues like these that could dramatically change the way you do business? These may, or may not, be applicable to your company. But stop here long enough to give each at least a twenty-second mental review of their potential impact on your Agenda. Are any of these issues top priority for you?
- Legal issues
- Ticking time bombs
These are dragons that might look small now, but can take a fatal bite out of you and your company. Some of them show up on the balance sheet, some don't. Do you have to tick time bombs in your company that you know about? Ones you don't know about? If so, when do you move them to a high enough priority to solve them or prepare for them? How long before detonation?
- Prospective investors
- Security issues
- Going public
OK, so you now have investors or want them. Or, you have gone public. Are you prepared to deal with investors? To keep them informed? To provide information that complies with securities law? Or, has it already hit the fan? Which of these, if any, should be a top priority for you? Have you been ignoring it, or them, anyway?
- Facility requirements
- Real estate issues
- Systems & procedures
These are some nit-picky details of operations that may already be major time eaters for you -- and a lot of your staff. Are there more efficient ways to deal with these issues so you can keep new dragons from hatching? Often, my clients find that they don't have the in-house expertise or resources to address all of these issues -- especially when the company has experienced significant changes in the organization from either fast growth or downsizing. What about your company? Which of these, if any, should be a high-priority issue? Which ones are costing you more money than they should? Which ones properly reflect today's, and tomorrow's, reality?
You have dedicated and focused a lot of your recent life on making your company survive and thrive. You have fought off all the dragons, so far. But what is YOUR agenda for the future? What are your long-term plans and goals, personally, and what are you doing to accomplish them? Are you personally taking home the compensation that pays you for your effort? Assuming the dragons don't get you first, what are you going to be doing five years from today?
- New ideas
How do you stimulate your own creativity these days? Do you still set aside time to really brainstorm and facilitate new, fresh ideas? Should this be a top priority for you? Do you ever have the time, or help, to implement the best ideas you come up with? Or, do they just sit on a shelf, gathering dust until your competition does something first?
Other Specific Agenda Items:
These are issues that are totally specific to you and your company that aren't covered in this Agenda otherwise. If you can't think of anything for here, just remember which dragons you had to fight during the last couple of weeks. Which of those should be the top priorities on your list?
I hope you found this Agenda for the Future both stimulating and worthwhile. How many top priority issues ended up on your Agenda? How are you going to tackle all of them? Do you have the time, personally, or the internal resources necessary to accomplish all of them in a timely manner?
With all these issues to worry about, no wonder they say it's lonely at the top. Would it be worthwhile to you to have an additional senior-level resource available for only a five hundred dollars per month increase in your current payroll costs? A service that you can cancel at any time? A resource that can help you, the top executive, directly?
Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur and CEO with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors. He has trained, coached and advised over 1,000 CEOs since 2002. And is Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship University™. Mr. Norton works with companies to triple their chances of success in launching new companies and products. And helps established companies scale faster using the six AirTight Management™ systems. And helps companies successfully raise capital.
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