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updated: 6/24/2013 6:05 AM

Business owner's summer challenge: Four half-days

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I need four half-days of your time. Actually, it's your business that needs those four half-days, time you spend away from the company contemplating its present, future and how to make both better.

How nice that summer days are ideal for reviewing and strategizing.

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You could spend one of those half-days lounging in a backyard hammock, thinking about how your company is doing. You could meet for a long lunch with your senior team -- employees if you have them; advisers such as your accountant, attorney and marketer if you don't; an outsider for truly fresh insights.

Maybe you and your spouse should take a hard look at the future. Do college tuitions loom? How's the retirement fund doing? How will you exit when it's time?

You'll know who to include and, probably, what to discuss. Just in case, though, here are some thinking-and-planning topics for your half-days:

• Is your business where you thought it would be? Where you want it to be? Is your business going to get where you need it to go?

Is the business growing? Is the growth profitable? Whether it's widgets or advice, how is the quality of whatever you're selling?

If answers are negative, or so-so, can you identify the issues holding your company back? Can you fix them? Do you need outside help?

What's your personal standing in the community, both the marketplace and the industry where you operate? Are you passive or active? Are you a leader, or do you grumble about zoning boards, overregulation and the like? Do you participate in industry activities?

Businesses with the greatest visibility often turn out to be the most successful. That's not always true, and you don't want to spend so much time on issues that you ignore your company, but highly visible businesses -- and their leaders -- often have an advantage.

• What do your advisers, perhaps your senior employees, actually think about your business -- its operations today and its future? You won't know unless you ask, and you won't get the honest answers that will be the most beneficial if the asking is confrontational, but talk to the people you count on most.

Think about what you need to know. Listen to what you hear.

• Change happens every day. Do you really understand the marketplace? Have you talked with suppliers about ways you might work together more productively? Do you really know what your customers want? Do you know how to reach out to clients and customers -- and prospects?

Are you comfortable using today's communications tools, or are you confused by Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and all that stuff?

Some summer days there's simply nothing better than the deck, a pitcher of iced tea, and a yellow pad and pen. No phones. No texting. No iPads. Just you and your business.

Enjoy.

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at JKendall@121MarketingResources.com 2013 121 Marketing Resources, Inc.

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