3 Things Not to Do In Your Business This Year

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Knowing what not to do is vitally important to your success this year.
  • The three business-imperiling things not to allow in your business DNA.
  • Specific ideas to help you avoid these issues.
  • Links to related SBOM posts offering more details and actionable insights.

You’re excited about what the new year will bring for your business. “This is the year we turn the corner to breakthroughs that have eluded us!”

Don’t waste time and dilute your energy worrying if you’ll be up to the challenges ahead. Take the year one day at a time. Focus on moving the improvement needle each day in some way that’s aligned with your annual goals.

With all this emphasis on forward motion, most leaders give very little—if any—thought about what NOT to do. They don’t consider what the business is doing that could slow down or derail everything—or stopping poor management behaviors that may have become part of their operating DNA.

Don’t Do These Three Things

  1. Navigate your business while blind to its financial performance.

Many successful CEOs, business authors and consultants tell us we can’t effectively manage a business without frequently reviewing, assessing, knowing and interpreting our financial results throughout the year.

Here’s why:

  • Like it or not, the language of your business is numbers, especially in the financial performance area.
  • It tells you how profitable the business is.
  • It shows if you’re generating enough cash flow to be self-sustaining.
  • It highlights what’s working and what’s not, at regular intervals.
  • It allows us to forecast the near-term future of the business.
  • It spotlights your business’ overall operating and financial health.
  • It’s an early warning system of possible pitfalls in the foreseeable future.
  • It clarifies whether a business investment is warranted and affordable, and the probable best timing for the investment.
  • It lets you project the probable financial effects of important operating assumptions and projections.
  • It provides you with critical tools for engaging outside investors or bankers for raising external capital.

If you don’t know the important numbers of your business on a fairly regular and systematic basis, you’re running your business blind to one of its most important sources of performance information.

Make a better choice.

  1. Manage your business in an echo chamber.

An “echo chamber” is literally a room with resonant walls, used to record echoes or hollow sound effects.

In a business context, this means you and your management team talk only to yourselves, repeating and reinforcing each other’s opinions and beliefs. You do not invite and welcome the ideas, opinions and perspectives of skilled, experienced and expert business outsiders about how to improve and strengthen your business.

This is how small business leaders and operating teams become dangerously isolated.

There’s a clear correlation between businesses that chronically struggle and their owner’s attitude of “no help needed here”—regardless of how deep and stubborn the business’ problems might be.

On the other hand, highly successful businesses and owners consciously and intentionally access other perspectives, ideas, experiences and—yes—even devil’s advocates. They continuously expose the business to fresh views about how to get better.

  1. Run your business without specific performance goals, direction and a written plan.

No one argues with this idea: If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten.

Yet all too many small businesses start the new year without any realistic, thoughtful goals, objectives or any kind of a plan to guide them—just a vague wish to have a “better year.”

So these businesses continue doing what they’ve always done—perhaps working harder or longer—and keep hoping for something better.

Which brings us to another fundamental idea: Hope is not a plan.

Here’s a simple question for you and your senior team to answer:

It is an easy question to answer, if you have thoughtfully developed and articulated performance improvement goals for your business.

If not, it’s not so simple to answer, assuming you’re being honest and candid.

If you genuinely can’t articulate one to three clear, measurable goals, then you’re essentially using hope as your strategy.

You don’t need an elaborate, multi-page plan. An effective written plan just needs to declare your goals and objectives for the business, and some strategy, actionable tactics, programs or initiatives that support and drive the achievement of those goals.

(By the way, if your plan isn’t in writing in some form, you’re just kidding yourself that you have one).

Then you review your progress frequently: at least every quarter. (My coaching experience tells me that monthly reviews are most effective.) Put this in your calendar as a firm recurring schedule, and treat it as you would any other important business commitment.

Here’s a quick review of SMART Goals for a refresh of the SMART concept.

If You Stop Doing These Things, Is Your Success Guaranteed?

Don’t we all wish …

However, you’re on much firmer ground. Your odds of success (however you define it) will significantly increase if you prevent these inhibiting and endangering management habits from invading your business.

It’s just good, proven business management to know your financial performance; welcome outside perspectives and ideas; and invest the energy and creativity in crafting a clear, actionable and measurable written plan.

All other things being equal, these actions will give you a strong competitive advantage. That’s because it’s statistically certain a good number of your competitors have let these three “don’ts” creep into their businesses and become part of their business DNA.

Key Points
• What not to allow in your business is equally important as what you do allow
• Don’t operate while blind to its financial performance
• Don’t run your business as in an “echo chamber”
• Don’t manage your business without up to three clear and measurable goals, objectives and a plan
• You’ll gain a significant competitive advantage by avoiding these issues, because a good number of your competitors probably aren’t