Dear Readers:

I hope all of you are having a great beginning of the year and are staying focused on your short and long-term goals. Now that it is February, many of us will find that the new year momentum has begun to wane (there is a reason gym attendance drops drastically in February), but it is important to stay consistent.  To keep us all on track, I wanted I wanted to send you all a little exercise to help as you plan your next moves. It’s important to note that in order to maximize on this exercise, we need to understand what we are selling, our target market, and most importantly the core of what our brand represents.

As you are crunching numbers and detailing your objectives, I would like to also encourage you to think about the following questions:

How clear is your strategy? When thinking about goals, it’s not uncommon for small business owners to think in large chunks (i.e. 1-5 year plans). The reality is that none of us can see that far ahead, especially in an innovative and fast-paced world. Therefore, we must remain open to unexpected changes and movement in both out business and industry. I suggest that you review and tweak your strategy every quarter, as needed.

What is my priority?  Attempting major overhauls and constantly shifting priorities are just two ways brand owners shoot themselves in the foot. Immediate transformations of a business can cause chaos and not having a clear understanding of what should be done (fully) first is going to create a massive list of unchecked tasks (and some seriously stressed-out employees). Instead, break down objectives into groups, prioritize them and approach them step-by-step.

How do I treat my team? It is not uncommon for business owners to be so focused on their end-goals that they begin seeing employees as cogs in a wheel instead of paying attention to their real strengths and utilizing them to the greatest benefit of the company, and the employee. Recognize the extra work they do, the hours they put in and show respect for their downtime. Talk with your employees about their passions, backgrounds and skill sets and be open to role adjustments for employees that find they have larger interests and hidden talents and are willing to share them with you and your company.

How do I view diversification? It’s easy to always do the same thing and to work under expected patterns. However, if you take that route be prepared to see the same results. Growth takes courage. Don’t be afraid to explore other avenues of income and to look for new and innovative solutions within your industry. Risk is never easy, but it can be lucrative when you have taken the time to really explore your options.

How am I leading by example? Your personal brand is something you create and showcase with every decision you make and every interaction you have. It is essential to watch your own work, behavior, words and actions as closely as you do those who work with and for you. Be the leader who shows how to do things correctly by example.