Will your business grow or stagnate in 2015?

It’s that time of year again, when people set new goals. For example, I am going to lose 10 pounds by working out four times a week and not eating after 8 p.m. I will spend more quality time with my family. I will read at least one business book per month. And the list goes on.

We all know that sometimes traditional goal-setting works and that sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it seems that real life — real day-to-day needs and wants as well as mindless habits — get in our way. Nothing much changes, including the results.

This is also true in business. We want our businesses to grow. Yet the way most businesses operate, day-to-day routines do not really allow for dramatic change. Operations seem to overpower good ideas, even those big ones led by passionate employees or teams. One’s company culture can get in the way of new possibilities and new directions.

You can be careful, reserved, and cautious. You can wait out the tougher times, keep showing up, and see what happens. This might work, especially if the marketplace dramatically heats up. Right now the economy seems to be going in the right direction. Does that mean we should feel comfortable, even though business is still not really what it was in the “good old days”?

Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, once said, “Either you grow or you die.” I believe the first option is preferable. So you can decide what is missing, create a new vision, start all over, and begin again. That’s what all those who have “fire in the belly to compete to win” do regardless of the real challenges they face in boosting performance and revenue. They make positive change happen. They give their companies the strategic “how” to hit their required and even aggressive objectives.

The marketplace has changed for a lot of you, and it will again whether you decide to adjust to the wants, motives, and needs of the markets you serve or not. So in 2015, you either need to get serious and committed to listening to your markets, seeing trends, seeing what offerings are possible, engaging customers, and actually asking what’s going on or you’ll have very little strategic direction and a weak business strategy.

Hope, by the way, is not a strategy. You should continually expect tougher margins in 2015. Steve Jobs said, “The way to killer profits is to have killer products/services.” The way to those goals is to have a strategy and to execute that strategy.

Expect selling to get harder. Purchasers are more sophisticated, and all offerings sound alike. Leadership is more than a vague, fuzzy concept. It’s needed everywhere. Nearly 60% of executives agree that the success or failure of transformation programs is due more to the way they handle “people initiatives” than how they approach other elements.



Once you have a well-defined strategy and the right people on the bus, it boils down to effective execution.

In their book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan wrote: “No company can deliver on its commitments or adapt well to change unless all leaders practice the discipline of execution at all levels. Execution has to be part of a company’s strategy and its goals. It is the missing link between aspiration and results. As such, it is a major — indeed, the major — job of a business leader. If you don’t know how to execute, the whole of your effort as a leader will always be less than the sum of its parts.”

New year thinking: What do you need to grow your business, team, or yourself in 2015?

  • Is it strategic direction? Is it necessary to give your business more strategic momentum, direction, and/or the “how” behind your objectives?
  • Make change work: Do you need to help your organization reach new goals while possibly implementing new offerings or new succession or management plans? Do you need to execute your plans by engaging your people?
  • Boost performance: Do you need to boost your performance by building your team or the competencies, skills, and attitudes of your people?
  • Do you need to be a bigger player in your organization?

Which of these areas are important to you?

Why? What could they do for the business and for you if you focus on them in 2015?

What could happen if you don’t act on them?

Happy New Year!

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.