We're almost through the first quarter of a new year, and for many, 2004 promises a brighter business climate than in recent years. So it is tempting to exhale -- to let up just a bit, and release some of the intensity under which many of us have been operating. After all, we're still standing, and that represents a huge accomplishment these days.
But this is not the time to coast. In fact, I suggest that this is a great time to give yourself a business tune-up.
This would be a great time to review your key indicators and do an honest assessment of your progress. Whether you start with financial, customer, technology or team development goals, taking an objective look at projected vs. actual across all aspects of your business should show you where you've missed your mark.
For some, this process can be done intuitively. I would bet that many of you do keep a rough mental status report running at all times. But it would probably be wise to really look at the numbers, milestones and your progress toward goals in a tangible format. Problems or shortcomings are much more likely to surface if you start the process in a spreadsheet or in writing. And you can easily start this process yourself. Here are some questions you might ask yourself to start your inquiry.
We do business in a relentlessly evolving world. In this dynamic reality, change is perhaps the only constant. Are you keeping pace or falling behind?
If business is going reasonably well, it's likely that an objective assessment has given you some tune-up ideas but hasn't revealed any major emergencies. But if things seem to be severely off course, you may want to prioritize -- either by urgency or potential for further breakdown -- and get correction started without delay.
Once you have taken a good look at the landscape and identified the more pressing issues, you will have to decide a course of action for each adjustment. Remember that help can be found in inexpensive ways, by looking to board members, advisers, peers or even key customers or vendors for suggestions. If the problems seem to be beyond your expertise, or if your energies need to be focused on maintaining forward momentum, then finding the right consultant or service provider may make sense.
But having a willingness to continually adjust can go a long way toward your ultimate success -- and it's a great way to launch into the challenges of a new year.
Orion is president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Technology Alliance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.