A leader with foggy focus can lose their direction. So, how do you define your goals and keep your whole team on the same path?
It’s easy to be thrown off course as a new business leader. You seem to know where you’re heading then suddenly you find yourself being swayed by the grand ideas or passions of staff, customers or financial backers.
George Deeb, writing for Entrepreneur, knows exactly how that feels. Having learned a big lesson in his early entrepreneurial days, he is well qualified to shout about the importance of cultivating laser-sharp focus and how you can achieve it.
His key advice is:
1) Create a formal strategic business planning process that defines clear goals.
2) As CEO make it your job to keep the whole management team clearly focused on those goals.
3) Review your strategic planning at intervals when new proposals can be considered.
4) Never be scared to make the right business decision, even if it means killing your sacred cows.
“It's a vital process to implement,” says George. “Even if you do it in abbreviated fashion, taking the time to define your strategic plan will make sure the voices of all stakeholders are heard and ensure you are truly focused on the right objectives to maximise success for your business, long term.”
The benefit of hindsight
He illustrates how his own thinking became fuzzy early on in his career with iExplore. The company began as a marketing-led website where travel enthusiasts could research and purchase adventure tours that were run by third-party partners.
George and his colleagues quickly found themselves being lured into the area of corporate incentives without realising that making it work would need specialist skill-sets the team just didn’t have. This temporary diversion was spurred on by the potential financial rewards that type of business could reap, without proper research into the implications.
Later his vision was tested again when he initially resisted selling advertising on the iExplore website, believing it would detract from the look of the site and the experience of users. But it happened anyway and George rode the conflict between the travel and media sides of the business.
Currently managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, he says it’s obvious now that changing focus to become a much larger travel media business was the best option. “I actually thought having the two lines of business fighting with each other would create a good balance on the website, by not letting the user experience get bogged down by too many ads. But what I should have done was pull the plug on the travel business altogether and let the high-margin media business drive the train.”
George’s message is now as clear as his vision. Keeping hold of your focus – and making sure your team does the same – will allow you to achieve your goals more quickly.
“You can’t have your CFO building a sedan, your COO building a minivan and your CTO building an SUV, when all agreed during the planning process you were going to build a luxury coupe,” he says.