There are many ways that CEOs can take time out to strategically work on reviewing, improving and growing their business.
- You can look outward to other companies in your industry, other industries, emerging trends and new technology – all as input to your thinking about your own business
- You can look inward at specific areas of your company and think about what could be improved or done differently
- You can also just let your mind wander as you do non-business related activities, like bike riding or walking or playing golf, and see where that takes you
Another strategy for taking time out to work on your business is to use one day at a time as a focus day on one specific aspect of your business. Spend the whole day thinking about it, mapping it out and thinking about how you would improve it. Delegate further actions to your team.
For example, I recently worked through this exercise with a client. We looked at his company’s core marketing and selling activities to acquire new customers.
If your business is online your marketing process will be very different from a company that relies on word of mouth to attract new clients. That will be different again from a company that has a direct sales team, or alternatively a network of distributors.
Here’s 7 steps for your one-day business improvement exercise:
Step 1: Get something to map it out onto
Get a really large sheet of paper or use a whiteboard (if you have access to one on your ‘day out’) so you can freely map out all the components. A mind map is a good tool to do this.
Step 2: Do a brain dump of all the steps
They don’t have to be in order, just do a brain dump of everything that happens in the pursuit of acquiring new customers or clients.
(If you’re not sure of what these are, have your team provide this information to you, in preparation for your ‘day out’. They could do steps 2 and 3 for you.)
Step 3: Put them into a sequence
If you have an online business, the first step could be to post an invitation to a webinar on Facebook.
If you have a professional services firm the first step may be to do the same as above! It may also be to email a new contact with a link to a webinar or piece of information of value, or with an invitation to one of your events.
Step 4: Assess the outcomes these steps generate
You will know how successful or not your processes are. If you don’t know, then get the relevant information from your team. Find out what really works and what doesn’t, and also where they may encounter problems or glitches in their marketing.
For example, for every 20 direct invitations you send to your event, how many accept? 10%? 50% 1%?
For every webinar you run, how many leads do you generate?
Step 5: Pull apart each step and ask ‘what if?’
For example, is there a better way to reach new prospects? Is there a way to reach better prospects? What if we changed the sequence? What if we change the frequency? What if we added another step in?
What’s also critical to this process is to look at the follow through.
- Is there any?
- What is the follow through process?
- Who is responsible for it?
- Is it being done consistently?
- Could it be done better?
Step 6: Highlight specific parts in your process that need further work
You don’t have to do it. Delegate that to your team or even the marketing company you work with.
Set a timeframe for the improved process to be implemented, tested and measured.
Step 7: Set improvement targets
Now you can set some new targets to improve the outcomes in the marketing activities you do to generate new business.
Assessing improvements on a quarterly basis is a good timeframe as it’s long enough to get some traction and short enough to make further changes to your processes if required.
I think that working through this on your own, before you workshop it with your team, gives you an objective perspective.
This approach can be applied to any core part of your business, whether it be service delivery, product development, new client acquisition, or customer service.
Pick one area and give it a try!