Owning a business is hard. Growing it profitably while freeing up the owner with more time and money ... well that's a whole new level of difficulty and it's the "Crown Jewel." For the last 20 years I have researched many businesses, including my own, to determine what separates the successful businesses from those who "own a job." As a business owner, my deep desire is to help the clients that I represent. Helping is a core value of Apex and I am grateful to have this platform to do that. There are a few key strategies I recommend for business owners who want to grow their businesses.
Clarify personal goals:As business owners, it is important to clarify what their personal goals are. Sure, making money and growing a business are great goals but then what will they do with the success? They must connect their businesses' success with their own goals. Is there a desire to travel the world? Pursue a hobby? Maybe start a charitable organization? Their businesses are to serve them, not the other way around. .
Explore changes: Explore what needs to change within the business to achieve those personal goals. A deep dive within the organization can uncover for owners where their companies are and where they want them to go. Let's be honest. Owners can't do it alone so they need to get their key people involved in the process. They possess vital information about what's working and what isn't and can find blind spots that exist. Allowing people to be part of the process will create the alignment necessary for the changes. During this discovery phase, owners are looking at every aspect of their companies such as vision, organizational structure, people strategy, business development, systems and processes among others. There are many more questions to ask. Recognizing the changes presents a 360-degree view of the company. It is very enlightening to go from saying "You don't know what you don't know" to "Now we know what we don't know!"
Determine a vision: Owners need to determine their core values and what their companies' visions are. A company's vision must be inspiring to all stakeholders. In other words, by achieving the vision, an owner can fulfill personal goals as well as enhance the lives of the work team and customers. Everyone wins. I learned a long time ago that my team does not work every day with the sole purpose of making my life better. There must be something in it for them to hope for 100 percent engagement toward the company's vision.
Initiate a strategy: With a strategy in place, owners can lay their plans out on how they will reach their goals. Key team members should be given ownership of the initiatives and owners can tie a reward scheme for achieving those initiatives. Each incentive initiative must be quantified in terms of expectations versus actual results to determine if changes are needed. These key performance indicators are instrumental to monitoring the company's performance and their measurements go far beyond a balance sheet and profit/loss statement.
Find an accountability partner: Finally, I recommend owners to choose a trusted "accountability partner" such as a certified public accountant, leadership coach or a mentor to ensure them to remain focused and deliberate about achieving their goals. In our company, this is a vital role we fulfill for clients. Be sure to circle back to ensure personal goals are being achieved. Imagine it. A successful business that produces an abundance of time and money to the owner is truly achieving the "American Dream."
• James Chakires is the president and CEO of Apex CPAs & Consultants Inc. in St. Charles. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Valuation Analyst.