Drug testing

The Business Leader as Ultramarathoner

Have you ever heard of an ultramarathon? A standard marathon is just over 26 miles. An ultramarathon is usually on the order of 50 or 100 miles, though there are some that span one thousand! Imagine the endurance required to run such a race.

Running a business requires the kind of devotion and stamina that ultramarathoners can only dream about. Like the 100-mile runner, the successful business leader must maintain focus, keeping an eye on the path...on the mileposts that mark progress...and on the long-range goal.

Unlike an ultramarathoner, your long-distance business run ends only when you leave the business by choice or when it dies an unnatural death. For in business the real success lies in creating something you can live with for the long haul, a crucible into which you can mix your creative vision and talents to build something unique and useful.

Keeping Stakeholders Focused

It's critical to your success to help your stakeholders stay focused, too. A good business delivers value to employees, customers, investors, and the community in roughly equal measure. Lose focus in any of those areas and you can find yourself headed for a business train wreck.

What happens when a business and its stakeholders lose focus? I recently observed a group of people at one company meeting to discuss the project manager's dissatisfaction with pink bubble wrap.

Eight people spent one hour in a meeting to talk about why bubble wrap had to be pink. Was that meeting necessary? Of course not. The focusing question to ask is: Does this meeting deliver real value to business stakeholders? Is it lined up with the business' principles and what it does consistently well?

Best intentions aside, such meetings are indicative of deeper problems that have gone ignored for a long time.

How Many Bubble Wrap Meetings Can You Afford?

In larger companies the symptoms of a loss of focus can go on for years. The systemic problems that occur in such situations develop gradually. Unless you are paying attention, you hardly notice them until they reach an almost ridiculous peak.

In smaller businesses, though, the results of defocusing can be catastrophic. They come upon you quickly like potholes in the road because you are moving at high speed. Before you know it you're sitting at the roadside, wondering what happened.

If you are going to avoid such problems, you must take action ahead of time. You must begin before the beginning.

Paying Attention Before the Beginning

During a business' startup phase, well before launch, founders and leaders must take the time to get conscious about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Smart leaders create answers to questions like:

  • What is our business about?
  • Who are we as a business?
  • What do we believe about the right way to conduct business?
  • What sort of relationships do we want to have with our customers, employees, investors, and the community?
  • What is our company's unique value to its stakeholders?
  • What is the unique value that our product or service brings to solving customer problems?

The time you make to answer such questions is repaid a thousandfold as your business grows. Be fanatical about indoctrinating your staff, employees, investors, customers, and the community about your principles and what you do consistently well. Do so in terms they can relate to: Employees: Focus on delivering the value of what you do consistently well to those you serve. Make sure they KNOW who you serve and teach them how to be customer advocates. Reward such advocacy. Make sure they understand the value your business delivers to each stakeholder.

Customers: Create a communication strategy that connects intimately with those you serve. SHOW the value of your focus -- don't tell, because talk is cheap. Build relationships that feed improvements to existing products and services, and get your customers involved in creating new ones.

Investors: Keep them informed about your progress. Speak the truth clearly. Hide nothing. Act ethically. Plan for the long term (even if you personally want to take an early exit).

Community: Be involved as a good community member. Pick a cause that's congruent with what you do and support it with passion. Show the community you'll be there for the long term.

Your Courage and Devotion Set the Tone

Above all, have the courage and devotion to keep yourself focused. There is no stronger example than that of your own life. Do your best to be the sort of person you want others in your company to be. For they will look to you as the model for acceptable behavior, values, and creative passion.

It's your race. Run it well!

Michael Knowles, co-author of The Entrepreneur's Concept Assessment Toolbook (http://www.booklocker.com/books/1988.html) helps businesses take what they do best and focus it on success. A Principal in One Straight Line LLC, Michael has over 25 years of experience helping companies create communication strategies help them engage customers, employees, investors, outsourcing partners, and the community. Michael can be reached at mknowles@onestraightline.com.

limousine chicago service
In The News:

Fear of Failure

Of all the real or perceived impediments to success, the... Read More

Top Ten Ways to Increase Your Profitability

1) Go back to basics. Take a couple of steps... Read More

Playing Hookey Can Help! A Surprising Secret To Small Business Success!

Would you like to increase your chances of business success... Read More

Delivery Companies Make the Grade

In the United States we have the most efficient delivery... Read More

The Use of Common Stock in Venture Capital Transactions

When raising capital for a business venture, a company can... Read More

Profile of Women Leaders

Leadership is based on two words, "pressure and support"and that... Read More

Coating Service Business Case Study

There are many coating businesses in the market today, but... Read More

Entrepreneurship Story; Over Regulation in Franchising Final Chapter

Sally and Jim have launched their automotive franchise business and... Read More

Enterprising Route is to Go Your Own Way

DON'T talk to me about education for entrepreneurs. They're pouring... Read More

Four Steps to Entrepreneurship

As more and more people start or consider starting their... Read More

What Qualities Do Franchisors Need?

When I got into business I wanted to build a... Read More

The Heroic Entrepreneur: Profiting from Your Brilliance

If you look up the definition of hero in Webster's,... Read More

Financing Your Business

Anyone who is serious about making some money is already... Read More

The Magic of Thinking Small

Hey!Many of you might disagree and I'm prepared for that.Many... Read More

Applying The Daffodil Theory into Business Practice

At times all of us need a bit of inspiration... Read More

What It Takes To be An Entrepreneur Series: Action

Many people have the professed desire to be their own... Read More

Be an Entrepreneur

The Department of Labor predicts that the #1 employer in... Read More

... in Pursuing the American Dream

This morning I woke up at 4:30 in the morning,... Read More

Have You Been Thinking About Owning Your Own Business? Or Becoming An Entrepreneur? Part 1

Almost every day, I talk with people who want to... Read More

Adding a Service After You Buy a Business

When you buy a business, you should have a plan.... Read More

Competitive Edge

In his book, The Road Ahead, Bill Gates of Microsoft... Read More

Developing A Contract

As a service provider, the most important type of "boundary"... Read More

Envisioneering

It never ceases to amaze me. Almost everyone peers into... Read More

Time Management Tips for Solo Entrepreneurs

Does it seem like everyone and everything is vying for... Read More

Confidence = Preparation + Courage

It always amazes me when I see someone on television... Read More

led dome light bulbs led light manufacturers Pete's produce ..