The following pertains to the top secret element to success in your business, and any small business for that matter. If you read this and implement the strategies outlined, you will have a very strong likelihood of success in your business and in your life.

The following pertains to the top secret element to success in your business, and any small business for that matter. If you read this and implement the strategies outlined, you will have a very strong likelihood of success in your business and in your life. These are strong statements to be made about an article or even a single concept. The concepts presented are the result of detailed observation from over 50 restoration companies, ranging from less than $1 million in annual revenue to some of the largest companies in the industry. In studying these organizations, there is one unifying factor that unites successful companies. This element is top secret because it is often overlooked in the pursuit of success. It is overlooked because it is fairly simple and yet it impacts nearly every aspect of your business. When properly practiced and applied, you will see that everything starts to become easier and that you are achieving greater levels of success with less effort. How can something so fundamental not be present in every organization? The most likely reason is that it is overlooked, or that other items take precedence.

Before I uncover this super secret element, I want to discuss organizational success so we are all on the same page. Success is not simply financial rewards - it is a well functioning organization. Successful companies that I have seen share many of the same characteristics. Owners of these companies spend their time working on their business, rather than in the trenches. This means that they have more than a job, they are working toward improving their organizations on a daily basis and helping create successful people throughout the company. These companies operate based on systematic processes and tend to be very proactive rather than reacting and responding to outside stimulus. They have a good balance of work coming from many sources. Cash flow is strong and supported either through an effective banking relationship or through operations. Employees are happy and feel like they are valued members of the team and have a role in the success of the company. The owner has balance in his or her life and finds ample time to spend with family and take vacations. Finally, these companies are financially successful. Your business should provide a fair return based on the efforts of the team and the financial risk that is taken in running it. Most companies will define this financial return in different ways, but it should be commensurate with the operational risk as well as the time and financial investment. Your business should be a resource to allow you to pursue worthwhile things in your life and not a hurdle to becoming the person that you want to be.  Your business should fill a spot in your life and not become your entire existence.

If you would like to create a company with these characteristics then I am ready to share this top secret idea with you. Successful companies are all run by strong leaders. That’s right. As simple as it sounds, if you work on your leadership skills then you can nearly assure your success because the traits that are exemplified by a leader will allow you to focus on the fundamental elements of a successful organization. I have made a very broad statement that is somewhat nebulous, yet quite simple. It deserves further discussion. 

A web search of “leadership” returns over 500 million results. This shows that there are many different opinions on leadership and also many different ways that it is practiced and exemplified. I will try to encapsulate this broad discussion based on my studies, and much more importantly, based on the observed elements of the successful organizations that I have viewed. There are many important characteristics of leadership, but I feel there are five that are essential. As you work to improve your leadership, I am certain that you will uncover many more that are important to you. That being said, your leadership skill set needs to include the following items: Successful leaders are successful visionaries. They’re people with a strong and positive character who can effectively communicate, are consistent, predictable and, finally, are very proactive. I will explain in detail the elements of each of these characteristics as well as how to manifest them in your organization.

One of the primary elements of strong leadership is to have a compelling vision. Your staff wants to be a part of something bigger then their own position in your company. They want to be a part of an organization that is going somewhere. A strong vision will allow you to attract and keep great talent. When you create your vision, make sure you involve your leadership team and then put this vision into writing. It’s a good idea to take a management retreat and get away from the demands of the office for this. Your vision should be a long-range plan for where you are going. The time frame for achievement is just about as far as you can see (in most organizations this is about 5 to 7 years). In what areas or regions do you want to operate? How are you perceived by your clients? Within the community, answer questions pertaining to the size of your company, the types of service will you offer, etc. If you create this vision, commit it to writing and communicate often, you will find that you will be able to transform your company. I like to limit this vision to 5 to 8 items, as this will allow you focus on these items and clearly communicate.

Virtue will mean different things to different people, but it can simply be defined as being a person of value that others want to see become successful. In order to create a successful organization, your employees will need to work synergistically for success as they realize that you will benefit from this success. I have seen many organizations where the key staff holds back or actively take steps to prevent success. When you help others become successful and are a humble and virtuous person, then you will have a strong team that is working for your success. Your activities in your personal and professional life are in the spotlight. You need to make sure that you are consistent in all that you do to live up to the expectations of your employees. 

Communication skills are often overlooked in leadership. Organizational communication is fundamental to success. As a leader, you will need to effectively communicate with your staff, clients and stakeholders. For those of you that are afraid of public speaking, this is bad news. Part of communication will be one-on-one conversations. The other, more important element, is effectively communicating to groups of individuals - primarily your company. Your words will carry a lot of relevance in moving your staff in a desired direction. You need to hold at least a monthly staff meeting to discuss your vision and progress, as well as to celebrate victories. These meetings become even more important when you experience setbacks and challenges. You will be looked to for guidance and leadership during these times. If you do not deliver a positive message, then rumors will start and a lot of misinformation will be passed around your office. The lesson here is that you are the leader of your company and you need to communicate positive messages to your company and consistently talk about your goals, vision and values.

Strong leaders are consistent and predictable. Your staff should know what to expect when they come to your office, or when you visit them on jobs. If your employees are not sure how you will respond to situations, or if you are not clear and consistent with expectations, then you may find that they are always second-guessing their activities, roles, responsibilities and their performance. Having strong quantifiable measurements will be essential in this process, as you can start to manage results rather than activities. This will prevent you from micromanaging and see that you have confidence that your people are not only busy, but that they are producing. Predictable management is essential in a growing organization.

One of the biggest challenges in a growing organization is finding time to get the required activities complete. If you fail to plan your business, your role and your daily activities, then you will find yourself spending time on laborious activities that may not be your priorities. A lack of planning often means that your priorities are the priorities placed on you by others. As a leader in a small business, you will find that there are always more tasks than there is time. The only way for you to grow with your organization is to prioritize and start with major activities, while removing yourself from the minor activities that can be delegated. As you step back from your position and look at your business, you will see that your overall organizational activities follow the same process. I spoke with one person that summed it up well when he said: “Before (our strategic plan) we were running 100 mph. We didn’t know where we were going, but we were running 100 mph. (After our strategic plan) we were still running 100 mph, but we were going somewhere.” Effective organizations have a destination and a plan to get there. This will allow for synergistic activities and performance.

Now that the top secret of success has been revealed, you have an obligation to become an effective leader. Stop going through the motions and create a strategic plan to get to your destination. Then, proactively take steps to improve your company. You owe this to yourself, your company, your employees, your family and everyone else that is touched by your company. In order to transform your company, you need to study leadership. Consider reading about it and even taking classes, if necessary. After you have the skills and understanding of this process, then start the planning process with your leadership team. Here’s to your success.