What are you committed to achieving as a business owner or leader? In order to create and perpetuate business success, the words you must pay closest attention to are “commitment” and “achievement.” I’m going to share with you the five key commitments business owners must make to achieve perpetual business success, but first, it’s important to understand that all great achievements start with commitment. In “Star Wars Episode V,” Yoda sagely put it this way: “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” Yet commitment is not just trying but rather doing — learning from what doesn’t work and then doing something different until you achieve the desired outcome.
So as you consider these five essential commitments, remember that each requires persistence, resilience, and an intense focus to help you achieve each one. Numbered in order of importance, with the first being most essential, the five essential commitments are:
- Commit to constant and never-ending improvement (and by extension, to change).
- Commit to a compelling vision for your business.
- Commit to creating a peak-performing team.
- Commit to making raving fans of your target market.
- Commit to execution excellence.
Commit to Constant and Never-Ending Improvement (and by extension, to change)
Well-known business consultant and author Marshall Goldsmith captured the essence of it all in the title of his book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” Business owners and leaders must be willing to take a fresh look at themselves and their businesses with an open mind for change. This, as Goldsmith argues, is one of the greatest obstacles preventing leaders and their businesses from reaching new levels of success and prosperity.
New business owners and leaders are all about change. They don’t know what they don’t know, and are consequently eager to invite new perspectives in order to succeed. Those with more experience and past accomplishments, however, are at greater risk in these situations because they tend to overestimate their contributions and have an elevated opinion of themselves. The human psyche is predisposed to fall into repetitive patterns of unconsciously thinking the past equals the future.
The point I’m making is simple. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or have several decades of experience running your business, in order to perpetuate business success you must be committed to constant improvement, and as times and circumstances change, you must change in kind. If you cannot learn to adapt, you will likely be mired in mediocrity and experience slow or no growth at all. At worst, you fall into decline with only memories of how it once was or could have been.
Commit to a Compelling Vision for Your Business
There are many reasons individuals go into business for themselves. Some do it for freedom, to do as and when they please. Others feel they should be enriching themselves rather than “the man” who’s making all the money from their hard work. Many decide to start their business with some innovative ideas, convinced they can do things better. Still others just want to feel they “own” their own job security and hopefully build an asset to transition on to the next thing, whatever that may be.
Yet as good as these reasons may sound, none of them is likely to provide long-term strategic direction for the company to create the emotional leverage needed to be inspired or to inspire others to commit through thick and thin. Therefore, business owners absolutely must discover a vision that energizes and aligns everyone involved. This is the central focus of the organization, giving meaning, purpose, and cohesion to everyone in the face of inevitable challenges and endless distractions.
Commit to Creating a Peak-Performing Team
A compelling company vision can be a huge attraction for the most vital asset of any company — its people. A business is only as good as those running it, from the top all the way down, as well as their commitment to the vision based on what it means to them personally. So it’s clear why the vision is so essential for hiring the right people. The more they “get it” and “internalize it,” the greater their commitment to personal excellence in order to do their part towards achieving that common vision. With the right people committed to the vision and in the right “seats on the bus,” there’s minimal risk and tremendous potential return for investing in their performance through compensation, benefits, training, and development. This positive cycle continues, as company employees often feel part of something bigger than themselves — something that gives them purpose, develops their potential, affords them dignity, and rewards those who ultimately aim to form and contribute to a high-performance culture.
Commit to Making Raving Fans of Your Target Market
You and your people require oxygen to live. Your clients, those who pay for the products and services your business offers, figuratively represent that oxygen. In order to maintain sufficient oxygen levels, you must retain and expand your customer base through an ongoing commitment to meeting the unmet needs of your target clients, or meet their needs in innovative ways through your products and services. An obsessive focus on those you serve will empower you to retain raving-fan clients, maintain a unique value proposition, and perpetuate an attractive brand promise to attract even more raving fans of your business.
Commit to Execution Excellence
As valuable as your clients are, the commitment to them and all of the other commitments is dead on arrival without the fifth, a commitment to execution excellence. It’s like having valuable freight without a train to move it. Mobilizing people to turn a vision into results requires four key steps in a continual process at all levels.
Step 1: Focus on the most important goals and objectives. Business leaders must establish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals in order to focus resources on the most important results the company needs to achieve. Targeting the right goals is crucial for success.
Step 2: Focus on what will be most effective in reaching those goals. The question to ask yourself is: “What critical activities, if done well, will have the greatest impact on achieving our goals?”
Step 3: Keep score by measuring results. The facts reveal what’s working and what’s not so you can adjust activities. Without tracking results, there is no feedback loop for course correction or a measure of achievement to motivate anyone. In other words, there is no basis for accountability.
Step 4: Establish a cadence of accountability within your business. Accountability is crucial for sustaining success and continuous improvement. Because this step requires all four prior steps in addition to skilled communication, it is often the weakest part of execution in most businesses.
Look back at each of these five commitments and ask yourself, “Am I truly committed to these critical practices or am I avoiding responsibility, making excuses, or just trying?” As I stated at the beginning, it starts and ends with business leadership. If we can’t be real and honest with ourselves, why should anyone trust us to lead them?
Reassess your commitment levels. Decide today to recommit to your business, look at it with fresh eyes and from a different perspective. Question everything and be open to anything in pursuit of the right goals and most effective actions to achieve them. And remember, no matter how successful you’ve been in the past, recommit and be amazed by how much more you can still achieve!