The following compares your responses to top performing businesses.

Your Results

Top Performers

You allocate sufficient time to work ON your business as well as IN your business. Most of your time is spent on strategic areas of your business. Your business is not overly dependent on your individual contributions to the company. Top-performing company leaders spend the majority of their time working ON their business rather than IN their business. They delegate most tactical activities and fire-fighting activities to other employees and concentrate on activities that have the greatest impact on their business.
You have a well-defined vision for your business. Your employees understand it and are aligned with you on working towards your vision. Top-performing business leaders start with defining their Personal Vision of success. They then write a Company Vision that aligns with their Personal Vision. Their employees understand the Company Vision and are working together to achieve the vision.
You regularly measure employee engagement and realise how important it is to have employees highly engaged in your business. You have created an environment where employees display engaged behaviors. Top-performing companies realise that their employees are their most important asset. They develop career paths for them and assess their engagement and performance regularly. All employees have well-defined job responsibilities and know how their work contributes to the success of the company. The company communicates regularly with employees, has a transparent culture and encourages intrinsic motivation though the management team.
You run a predictable business where you are able to successfully forecast growth objectives in your business and consistently meet your revenue goals each year. Top-performing businesses are good at forecasting revenue growth targets and have the execution consistency to meet or exceed their goals year-over-year. They have a diverse customer base, a proven sales model and they run their sales department from a sales plan.
You have developed a strong brand that allows your customers to connect with the purpose of your business; more than just the product or service you offer. Your cost of new customer acquisition is lower and your retention rate of customers is higher than competitors in your industry. Top-performing businesses have developed a brand that means something to their marketplace. Prospects are attracted to their brand and refer others to their product or service. Top-performing businesses seek to reinforce their brand through every decision and action that they make.
You have quantifiable differentiation of your product or service offering over competitive offerings. Your customers are aware of and understand the value of this differentiation over other alternatives. Top-performing brands have identified measurable benefits that differentiates their products or services. These points of differentiation are understood by their customers and prospects. Their differentiation is substantial and is based on more than just “good customer service”. Customers place a high premium on these points of differentiation.
You place a premium on generating healthy profits, maintaining solid cash flow and you have a demonstrated track record of profitability that is above average for your industry. You are fully prepared to endure a significant downturn in your business or industry. Top-performing businesses forecast profits and cash flow first and budget expenses to attain the budgeted profit and cash flow. They review their financials and financial ratios often and take actions when necessary to generate consistent profit. They have enough retained earnings and cash to allow them to operate the business during a downturn and do not drain the company of cash. They also generate sufficient profit to invest back into the business.
You place a high value on your customers and your employees consistently provide them with a high degree of service. You measure your customer service levels and your customers feel valued and do not leave due to perceived indifference. Top-performing businesses place a premium value on their customers and on their employees. Their employees are engaged, aware of their role as brand ambassadors and provide exceptional service in all interactions with customers. They provide a culture and the necessary training to achieve high service standards. They consistently measure service levels, why their customers leave them and the engagement level of their employees.
Your business is dependent on the skills and tribal knowledge of one or more key employees. If they leave your business, you will likely lose customers, experience delays, suffer service issues and it would require you to spend more time working in your business as a direct result. Top-performing businesses have taken the time to formally document all key processes. They have also cross-trained employees in most areas of their business. While it is not easy for any business to lose a key employee, top-performing businesses have prepared themselves as well as possible in the event they lose a key employee.
Since Harvard studies show interviews alone to be only 14% accurate, you probably do not have top performers in all key positions in your business. The top performers that you do have may not be loyal to you or your business and might leave if an equal or better offer comes along. You might not be looking at your human capital needs strategically and making the necessary adjustments. Top-performing businesses have processes to attract and retain top-performing employees. These companies understand that Human Capital Management can make or break a company and therefore review their human capital needs on at least an annual basis. They understand the cost to the company in poorer quality, poorer service and increased costs from poor employee engagement. They work to ensure a culture of trust, positivity, autonomy and fairness along with training, transparency, feedback and recognition to retain their A-level employees.
You are running your business correctly using your strategic 3- to 5-year plan to guide you in development of your annual operations plan. Your organisation is primarily working on annual goals, supported by strategies and actions in your annual plan that are aligned with your strategic plan. Top-performing organisations operate both through 3- to 5-year strategic plans supported by a detailed 1-year operating plan. They take the time to create Strategic Goals, Annual Goals, Strategies and Action Plans for achieving their company vision. They create plans that are right-sized for their type of organisation. They review major decisions against their plans and are nimble enough to make adjustments as circumstances change or new opportunities present themselves.
You have identified financial and operational KPIs that are used to measure likelihood of achieving your performance goals. You establish KPI goals and manage your business based on measurement of actual KPIs toward those goals. You manage your business using leading rather than lagging indicators. Top-performing businesses manage their business using financial and operational KPIs. They establish weekly KPI goals and carefully compare actual results against the goals. They focus on leading indicators instead of lagging indicators so that they can make adjustments to their business in enough time to positively impact financial results. They also have KPI’s that measure their progress against their strategic plan.
You have a well-documented shareholders’ agreement. You and your partner(s) and/or family members are fully aligned on the direction of the business, including the strategy and timing of your eventual exit. Top-performing businesses have established a well-defined shareholders or operations agreement. The partners and/or family members agree on the vision and direction of the business. All parties are comfortable that everyone is contributing to the business at a level that matches their equity position. All parties are in agreement about succession plan and the timing of the succession.
You have a clear exit strategy including the timing expectations of your exit. You are confident that you will receive compensation for the exit in line with what you believe the business is worth. In the event of your death or incapacitation, you have left your company in a position where key employees and loved ones know how to move forward. Top-performing business leaders develop their exit strategy years before they plan to exit. They have done a valuation on their business and have taken significant steps to improve the valuation of their business. They have developed a realistic expectation of what their business is worth to a buyer and are confident they will exit on their own terms. They have put plan documents together to guide their family and employees in the event of their death or incapacitation.
You realise that the more the business is dependent on its owner or leader, the less it is worth to a potential acquirer. You have taken steps in your business to bring in the right staff, to delegate and to document the processes to minimise the dependence on you. You work to live rather than live to work. Top-performing business leaders realise that the more the business is dependent on their individual contributions the less valuable it is to a potential acquirer. They have a second-in-command or a management team that runs the day-to-day operations of the business. They have a high degree of trust in their team and delegate the majority of important operational tasks to them. They have taken the time to document all key process activities in their business. They have specified their work-life balance goals and attained them.
Your employees all have written job descriptions and key accountabilities. They know exactly what is expected of them and are clear as to whether they are meeting expectations. They own the outcomes of their positions and take responsibility when something goes wrong. Top-performing businesses have communicated clear expectations for each employee. The employees know how their work supports the company goals. Employees know whether they are succeeding or falling short of expectations. Employees are accountable for their work results and do not make excuses when they fall short. Management consistently communicates with their employees and if they are not performing they would not be surprised if they were terminated.
You tend to make your business decisions in isolation; or discuss only with employees and/or family members or those who are not business owners (like accountants and solicitors and consultants). Due to the limited input that you receive, you may not always make the best decisions for your business. Top-performing business leaders have learned how valuable it is to establish an objective, experience-based sounding board for important decisions. They are part of a group of other non competing leaders who understand both their business and their personal vision of success. Because they are not beholden to each other, they provide unbiased and candid feedback on each other’s challenges and opportunities. Because ’none of us is as smart as all of us‘ they regularly make higher quality business decisions.

 

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