road to success

It’s 5 o’clock. You’ve had a long day at the office and can’t wait to get home. You rush to the parking lot, leap into your car and gun it to the 1-65 on-ramp.

What you see ahead is not pretty.

A sea of cars parked across four lanes. The lane to your left starts to creep forward at 10 miles per hour, which looks like lightning from your vantage point. You see an opening, and since you’re clearly smarter than everyone else, you stealthily change lanes. You start passing cars in your new lane and do a celebratory fist pump. Then, you see break lights in front of you and begrudgingly come to a halt. The lane to your right begins to move forward.

You know from experience that if you try to get back over, it won’t solve the problem. No matter how much weaving and scheming you do, you won’t get ahead.

Drivers navigating interstate traffic are like most business leaders who try to navigate their businesses without a plan or overarching philosophy.

I want you to be among the few who take the less-traveled back roads.

Yes, you will have to plot your course before you take off by investigating routes and traffic patterns, but you’ll find a direct path that leads you to exactly where you want to go in a fraction of the time.

Bill Gates once said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”

It’s the beginning of the first quarter. It’s your opportunity to turn off the autopilot function and take the wheel. Chart both your one-year and 10-year plan by focusing on your clients, priorities, products and services, and people.

  • Clients – Most business owners see their clients as numbers. A pile of data, which determines the client’s importance. You’re aim is instead to be a reliable partner to your clients or customers despite their revenue or pocket size.
  • Priorities – The majority of businesses focus on the urgent, not the important; the miscellaneous day-to-day problems that cloud the bigger picture. With a little planning, you can systematize your day-to-day operations so you’re no longer bogged down by the menial interruptions and can instead stay on your long-term course. This will allow you to grow your business instead of simply maintaining it.
  • Products and Services – Most business leaders spend their time, energy and money developing products or services for the masses. They want to be everything to everyone. You’re smarter than that. In 2013 you’re going to focus on providing products or services that meet two criteria: 1) Your unique clients want and, 2) Your team produces better than the competition.
  • People –Many businesses view employees as a work crew that exists to meet the needs of the business. You’re going to view your team members as individuals with unique talents that are waiting to be applied and developed. Build a team of top performers who can contribute to the decision-making process and become invested in your enterprise.

When you focus on these four areas, your business will be a well-oiled machine that’s operating with eight cylinders on the open road moving forward to accomplish your short and long-term goals.


Originally published in The Tennessean.

Photo credit: <a href=””>Pavel P.</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommo