I hope you haven’t become defensive and already answered, “nothing!” I could have just as easily asked what’s right with your business.
Standing back from the day-to-day operations and trying to give an objective appraisal of what is going well and what is not is one of those things that we all need to do more often — both in our work and in our personal lives. But we rarely find the time! Applying a little discipline and finding a little time, and then following up on what you discover, really can play dividends.
There is a lot of business speak and personal development terminology applied to this sort of exercise, but it can be quite simple, and can be focused as narrowly or as broadly as you may see fit. And depending on how far you take the exercise, it can be fun, too.
Defining what you do
It’s very easy to simply say, “I work in the poultry industry.” But where does your business fit in that broad category? Is it actually doing what you think it should be? Is it actually doing something far greater than what you believed it was doing? And if you don’t know, why not?
But assuming you have established clearly what it is that your poultry business is doing, is it succeeding? And if not, why not? Do managers and staff have a passion for what they are doing? If they don’t, what might the answer be? Is there a commitment to keep the business running as efficiently as it possibly can, or do things slip from time to time? The truth is that things almost always slip from time to time — it is when they slip too often that problems really start to arise.
Cows to kitchens
Are you wedded to doing something a certain way because that’s how it has always been done? The examples of businesses that have failed because of this approach are legion, while there are plenty of businesses that have succeeded by, and are often referenced for, sweeping away old ways and adopting new ones.
I once met a man who worked for a company that made kitchens for aircraft. The company started out as dairy! Here was a case of not being wedded to fixed ideas if ever there was one, and a great example of moving with market demands.
There are numerous areas that can be reviewed, from how communication is carried out, what a company portrays and attracts, how quick it is to act or react — and perhaps all of these things are being done well in your business. But perhaps they are not, and how will you really know unless you stop, re-evaluate what it is that you want to achieve, and look at whether what you are doing really matches with what you want to achieve.
Paying attention to these various elements of a business and considering them from various perspectives can be a call to action — or, of course, you can simply do the exercise and carry on as before irrespective of what you find, but remember that is a choice.
Markets and operating environments change, and often we need to, too. Strategies that once worked may no longer be effective, goals may change, paths taken to reach those goals may have led off in the wrong direction.
There is a saying that I am rather fond of: from little acorns mighty oak trees grow. Sometimes, even the smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences, and once a decision to look for improvements has been made, who knows where it can lead to?