|Business Lessons from a Bride
by Bill Collier
My daughter Katie recently got married.
Something dawned on me as the planning wound down and the big day
finally arrived. (Actually, two things dawned on me. One was the almost
machine-like efficiency with which this extravaganza reduced our bank
account balance. But that’s not what I’m writing about now.)
Here’s what I noticed: Everything
came off exactly as planned.
Before you say, “So what?”,
consider … There were dozens of people involved and hundreds of
details to manage. Tuxedoes. Dresses. Photographers. Videos.
Down-payments. A cake. A reception hall. Invitations. More
down-payments. Decorations. The church. The vows. Bridesmaids.
Groomsmen. You get the idea - the list goes on and on.
It was a truly impressive display of
planning your work and working your plan.
Here’s what I saw:
- It started with my daughter’s
personal vision for her perfect wedding. (A long-range vision.)
- Then, she started making lists and
putting her thoughts down on paper. (Establishing goals and written
- This, in turn, led to Katie asking
various people (including me, but especially my wife Joyce) to
handle assorted aspects of the operation. (Delegating - Assigning
specific tasks to specific people with specific timeframes and
- Katie followed up with the people
involved and on the planned activities to ensure all was proceeding
as expected. (Using Key Performance Indicators to measure progress
I saw a potential lesson for small
business owners. What if a small business owner planned and managed his
or her business this way?
Now, I know that this is not a perfect
analogy. A wedding is a one-time event, and a business runs
continuously. I understand that. But isn’t there something to be
gleaned from such an example?
For the most part, entrepreneurs know
what needs to be done. The shortcoming isn’t in the knowing; it’s in
the doing (or not doing.)
Suppose Katie had established her
vision, and maybe even went so far as to develop written goals and
plans, and then dropped the ball. No follow-through. No delegation. No
execution. The results would be predictable.
Instead, she was passionate about her
vision, was focused on her goals like a laser beam, and was committed to
executing her plans.
And so, I ask again: What if a small
business owner planned and managed his or her business this way?
Back to “knowing and doing” … Let’s
assume that you know what you want to accomplish and you know what needs
to be done to get there. You’ve got the “knowing” part squared
Turning “knowing” into “doing”
starts with a plan. Many business owners get tripped up at this stage.
We entrepreneurs are natural optimists, and as a group we have no
shortage of self-confidence. As a result, we sometimes tend to
anticipate unrealistic outcomes. I frequently see small business owners
whose to-do list would choke a horse. A relatively short list of major
initiatives is plenty for anyone’s annual plan. Better to set
optimistic yet realistic goals and achieve them than to set yourself up
for disappointment by expecting too much.
So a plan is written and now it’s
time to execute. Now what?
In my daughter’s case, she still had
to deal with the ordinary, day-to-day stuff ... her job, socializing,
paying her bills, time with family, time with her fiancé, errands, and
so on. Yet, because she was passionate about her vision, was focused on
her goals like a laser beam, and was committed to executing her plans,
she pushed through the clutter. Pushed through the distractions. Pushed
through the interruptions. Discipline allowed her to turn her vision
into reality. (I’m a down to earth, nuts-and-bolts guy, so I don’t
want to sound too mushy, but I believe that your level of discipline is
directly proportionate to your level of passion.)
She did much of the work herself, but
she also delegated much of it to my wife and to others. For many
business owners, one of the following scenarios comes into play. See if
you can see yourself in any of these:
- Nobody can do it as well as I can.
Therefore, I may as well do it myself.
- By the time I show someone else how
to do it, I can go ahead and do it myself.
- I don’t trust my employees with
the information they need to handle this task, so I’ll do it
myself to guard the information.
- I try delegating to my employees,
but I just can’t let go. I’m there micro-managing every step of
the way. So I’m 100% wrapped up in all the details, and no time is
Learning to delegate effectively is a
critical skill. It was a big part of this event’s success. Fail to
delegate and your enterprise will suffer.
Finally, as time passed my daughter
followed up with the various players to ensure that tasks were
accomplished as planned. When needed, plans were adjusted and corrective
action was taken.
You can do the same in your business.
Use your passion for your vision to muster up the discipline needed. Set
optimistic yet realistic goals, develop written plans, and then focus on
them like a laser beam. Commit to executing your plans, and don’t
allow yourself to be stopped by day-to-day distractions. Delegate.
Measure your progress and make adjustments as needed.
Here’s my challenge to you: Make next
year your break-through year. Despite past set-backs. Despite previous lack
of discipline. Despite prior lack of progress. Give it your all – your
best effort – for one year, and see what it does for your business.
I’ve seen first-hand the dramatic
changes that can take place in a small business in one short year. Next
can be the launching pad for your future success. It can give you the
confidence and the momentum (and the cash) to build upon for years to
come. Make it your best year ever.
Bill Collier is
a St. Louis-based business coach, consultant and speaker. He is the
author of the book “How to
Succeed as a Small Business Owner … and Still Have a Life.” His
website is www.collierbiz.com,
and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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