A look back at 2013 … Win Often!
In these last few working days before Christmas, entrepreneurs and owner/managers across the world are to be found madly running around in attempt to put a tidy line under the year … ensuring all those client deadlines are met, finances submitted and the myriad of internal ‘we must complete by the end of the year’ tasks concluded. All in time, for some well-earned, and justly-treasured, days off from it all … to recharge and escape … ready for the impending forward march of the New Year. It is also natural, amidst this frenzy, to take a few moments to reflect on the year that was. Having succumbed to a little of this reflection time myself today … I thought I should share with you some of my perspectives on 2013 …
Firstly, I have to say what a pleasure it has been. If there has been a lack of writing/blogging from me … it is down to the fact that I have had the privilege of working with a growing number of ambitious professional service client companies … from the complete start-up to the established multi-million businesses looking to accelerate future growth. They have all been a joy to work with … as with such ambition always comes energy, intellectual spark and a reinforcement of the ‘we are in this together’ values. Just having a part-time role with such companies is, as such, rewarding and professionally-rejuvenating in equal measure. Of real delight has been the first-hand witness of the start-ups as they traversed the ‘am I doing the right thing?’ chasm into those early foothills of the first client pay checks and the growing confidence that comes from delivering on well-wrought plans.
At a more macro perspective, I have to say that 2013 will likely be seen as the year of real economic inflection … which is, of course, great news for the professional services sector. It appears that the ‘tight-rope’ fiscal and monetary policy response to the 2008 crises has at last turned a corner and that aggregate demand (US, UK etc) is back into a definite growth phase. Certainly, I hear more buoyant and confident voices around the companies I speak to … talk of investment and recruitment is ‘back on the table’. If you are thinking of setting out on the entrepreneurial journey, now could be the perfect embarkation point.
Like my client businesses, I hope you take some time out with colleagues in these closing days to mutually reflect on the achievements of the year. In the midst of all the frenetic client delivery and company growth/operation, it is often difficult to see all the battles won, all the minor achievements accomplished. As we used to say at Moorhouse, you have to “Win often!”. The road to building a great company happens in a thousand small milestones … so make sure you stop as a team and really recognise and celebrate this. Don’t dwell too much on what didn’t go well … but rather ‘spin this analysis on its’ head’ and ask yourself how you can repeat and accentuate the year’s successes.
Its funny in a way – now I am working across such a wide array of businesses both in terms of sector and size – to observe quite how common the growth challenges are … from how best to market services, develop a systematic selling capability, revenue forecasting, recruitment and development of talent, building a high-performing team etc. If I had to share a quick observation, however, reinforced by my many interactions this year, as to one success factor that really separates the fastest growing companies from their peers … it would be this … the discipline/importance they give to (a) company direction and (b) this team-based reflection/communication/development. By discipline, I mean that in the companies moving fastest, there is a regular management tempo and investment applied to these two critical aspects. That is, typically, every quarter … the ‘upper quartile’ companies take time out as a leadership team/board to work ‘on the business’ cf. just being busy ‘in it’. Just this one-day a quarter can make such a difference if it corrects variance or resets strategy on a more vibrant path. Similarly, once a quarter, they accept the opportunity (and actual) cost of gathering their team mates in … to share progress, professionally develop and collectively “win often!” Such investment invariably returns in spades.
So … please take time to look back on your 2013, celebrate as a team the milestones passed and maybe discuss whether you could be more systematic with this strategic, and team-centric, dialogue in 2014.
See you on the other side; have a very restful break from it all in the interim.