I like to think of the year as a marathon. In a marathon, there is a beginning, middle, and end. In the beginning, you’re establishing a cadence and sizing up the competition. In the middle, you’re executing your plan and maintaining an efficient rhythm. Then, in the end, you face the final leg. This is where you dig deep for the extra 10% that can make the difference between winning and losing. This may mean outrunning a competitor or just making sure you don’t trip.
In the normal cycles of the business year, you also have a beginning, middle, and an end. The following are a few ideas to consider as you enter the final leg of 2018.
1) Determine your three top priorities.
They may be finishing a few projects with all hands on deck or finding ways to defer overhead expenses to maximize the profits for the year. You might want to focus on positioning yourself for 2019 by making a key hire or promotion. Whatever your business needs, by articulating and focusing on only three top priorities, you have a real opportunity to achieve a great final kick.
2) Get aligned.
Remodeling is a team sport and it’s hard to achieve strong results without everyone pushing together. Most owners carry too much on their own backs and often fall short with the results. Getting team alignment and buy-in is a process. It takes discussing the “why” behind the priorities. This involves listening and structuring the goals so they are achievable.
3) Be aggressive but realistic.
You need to dig deep and aggressively attack the final leg. Create a context of the amount of hours in the remaining weeks that is aggressive (working hard) but also realistic. Finding the right cadence for the final leg will allow you to cross the finish line well positioned for 2019.
4) Create a plan.
This may sound obvious, but it’s where many businesses fall short. Most companies have an annual budget with goals, but the final leg plan is like a fourth quarter plan in football. Also, as with a remodeling project, you need a blueprint (written down) for this final leg. This includes regular communication huddles, milestones, and the right levels of accountability. Not having a plan will result in failure most of the time.
It’s important to give yourself and your team the gift of celebration if you want a great final leg. This may be monetary or it may be doing something special. An appropriate celebration creates a nice dynamic for next year’s final leg.
For some, these tips may sound elementary. However, I see many owners going into the new year with pie-in-the-sky plans that they have never achieved before (and probably won’t without a good final leg now). I also see many leadership teams that don’t really believe in the owner’s vision. By focusing on the final leg, you can break this pattern and position the business well for the future.