The month of January was often the month that I could take some breathing space and plan for the coming year.
I am a strong believer in making a plan and then holding yourself accountable. (Yeah and I love cleaning out my purse, going grocery shopping and cleaning bathrooms!)
Except- being the owner, I have had no one person that I had to be accountable to. So it’s been too easy to put off a phone call or follow up on a past due account if I didn’t feel like it.
Last year my plan was to have someone hold me accountable. Starting last April I had weekly meetings where I had to account for all of my activities.
My task master Diane did her part exceptionally well. She took copious notes, encouraged me when I felt I was floundering, and helped my staff see where they could be a more integral part in growing the business by taking on responsibilities and lifting them off on my shoulders.
Was it easy? Heck no. Did I reach or surpass my goals? Absolutely.
It sometimes came in baby steps, but as we were getting there, I shared with my staff the short and long term goals (including real numbers) and explained how we were doing as a team. That helped everyone know where we were going and how well we were doing.
Many of my peers and customers wondered out loud why I would need someone like Diane to track my work with. I had had a career in a large company that had good structure and well defined policies on everything. They had a commitment to train and educate their employees in hopes of creating advancement opportunities. In that light, I attended many training courses, within and external to the company, that included well regarded programs such as IBM Sales, and Xerox Sales and Sales Management. I had also worked for two high tech companies in a very entrepreneurial environment. That helped me see responsibilities, risks and rewards in all aspects of running a business. And in my teen years, I had worked in our family’s business doing clerical and inventory duties.
But with all that experience I still think working with Diane has been the best decision I have made.
While the economy struggles here in Michigan, I have seen a glimmer or two that things are starting to “get right”.
I have talked to peers and other industry decision makers and they too feel a sense of encouragement comparable to many previous New Years’.
We know the hard work ahead. I for one know where my path needs to go and it includes lots and lots of hard work ahead.
But I feel better about that path. For lots of reasons not the least of which is that I have Diane on my wing to keep me accountable.
So hold on for a fast and furious 2011- that’s where I’m going!