Lounging and enjoying the closeness of loved ones and friends, I pondered ambition and what it means to live life to its fullest. I’m reminded daily by friends and family and you, my colleagues, what it means to live a life of commitment to something bigger than yourself. I’m reminded that we must live for the unforeseen and the unknown and make every day count. That is a life worth living. A few years ago, I read the following advice and it became my own. I’d like to share it with you:
George Bernard Shaw, the great author and playwright, said,
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will onto devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Each new year means new beginnings. January is the time for rejuvenation and rejoicing and of course setting the strategy for the next twelve months. When I owned a salon, every January our company took two full days to get realigned as a team. We reviewed what’s happened in the previous year and we celebrated the accomplishments. One year, I made gift boxes with candy, treats like Starbucks coffee coupons and Lotto tickets so that everyone walked away a winner.
In 2010, we had a lot to celebrate. Our company grew 56 percent over the previous year and experienced huge successes. One division of our company grew 126 percent. More so, we added new team members and increased the salons profitability by 12.35 percent. Numbers do tell stories, at least in our business, and we saw that we are making a difference.
At the celebration, we gave out certificates of accomplishments and I personally acknowledged each team member for specific contributions she or he had made to the company. We even gave a trip to Greece to one of our top producers for the year. Talk about incentives.
We also meet with our board of advisors who supported us with their insights and foresights. Our board of advisors are business people in the community who volunteer their time and business expertise to help our business grow. We gave out presents and prizes to acknowledge, it takes a team to create winning results.
The second day we envisioned what this brand new year was going to look like. To do so, we started by making a wish list of all the things we hoped to implement. This method allows us to be self-expressed and, personally, I’m always delighted by the creative ideas that appear as if by magic. We reviewed our core beliefs and values as a company to make sure we were aligned and used this technique to remind us of who we are as a company. Further it also allowed for those who are new to the team to feel involved and to own the beliefs for themselves.
Next, during the second day of our team meetings, we looked at financial goals. For growth to occur, each team member needs the numbers on the sales they produced last year and what they financially made last year. Then they set new goals for this year. It’s important to set goals that are achievable, not so high in the sky that one can never reach them.
Sure, we’re all overly ambitious at times and sometimes our dreams can be bigger than reality so creating specific and measurable goals that can be managed week-to-week and month-to-month help focus our larger goals. We continually look at the goals and ask, “Is this real?”
After we completed this process, we looked at how many support people will be needed to fulfill this growth. We looked at how much our growth will increase our overhead, because increased sales are not necessarily increased profits.
Businesses can fail when they grow too slow or when they grow too fast. If you grow too fast you may need to add a lot of additional cost to just keep the same profits. On the other hand without budgets you can eat up your profits.
When the vision was completed, we passed it all to our operations manager. One of the huge jobs of the operations manager is to set up a spreadsheet that has each team member’s name and what goals and what benchmarks each have set. This is done so that we can all stay on target, all year long.
I learned a long time ago that by allowing each team member to set his or her goals, they more likely to achieve them.
My favorite part of this second day is talking about budgets. I know that sounds crazy but I have learned to live in budgets. Budgets give us creative people structure and order; they keep us out of the emotion of the business and help maintain focus. Be sure to include time for budget making, realistic budgets mind you, in goal setting meetings.
With everyone having a common vision and an action plan for the year, a team is created. It happened with our meeting and it can with yours.
Before the year gets a hold of you and suddenly it’s the second or third quarter, have a planning meeting with your team to create miracles and possibilities. I’d be pleased if you’d try some of the ideas we used in our business or create some team-building ways to make your business successful.
Make this your year! Make this year the benchmark for the future. Do it now.
Your Partner in Prosperity,
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