Category: leadership

Where the CEO Should Focus Her Time

     The number one place for the CEO or founder to spend their time is with customers and strategy formulation. This should be the focus 80% of the time and unfortunately the opposite is usually the case. Most often the CEO is fighting fires or dealing with a poor hire. Or maybe the founder is trying to scale a business where processes were not properly developed. Most often this is work that should have been completed before the first $1mm in revenue was realized but now ensure the leader is working 70+ hours every week. So what are the top 5 things that will ensure this is remedied?

 

 

-Develop a capable staff and second in command

-Prioritize key process indicators and assign an owner

-Ensure a strategy is in place and operating rhythms are developed

-Create a process to listen to customers for feedback

-Create a strategy process

 

The primary order of business is to hire and develop key leaders well before you 11themployee. This involves psychometric profiling, developing a network of hiring partners and create a robust process. With this system in place the founder can on-board the most capable executives well before the business starts to scale. With those leaders in the business a developmental plan can be implemented to ensure these leaders are in place and ready to help grow the business and run the day to day operations.

 

From there it is important to ensure the prioritized key process indicators (KPI) and in place to drive the correct behavior and initiatives. It is equally as important to have a clear owner for each KPI. And of course, with a great hiring system in place, you will have the most capable of business leaders to make stellar progress. Your business will have a great sales manager in place owning lead generation, a marketing person that is driving conversion strategies and a manufacturing guru reducing cycle times to drive cash generation.

 

These leaders will consequently own operating rhythms to ensure progress is made on a daily and weekly basis. A quick one hour review daily or weekly, depending on the size of the business, will quickly resolve issues and drive cross-functional accountability. While it will take time for the KPI owner to conduct these reviews, countless hours will be saved by reducing emails, adhoc meetings, and countless voicemails looking for information. These operating meeting should have a clear agenda and a follow up list generated to drive accountability for actions.

 

Now that the CEO is free from the day to day details they can create a customer feedback process with sales, marketing and customer service. Focus either on key customers or work with NPS data to gather valuable product or service feedback and respond with solutions. This will show your customers you value their input and let them know you are continuously improving for their satisfaction. These efforts alone will drive customer affinity and loyalty. This activity should consume a great majority of the CEOs time and provide daily and valuable feedback for business improvement.

 

Finally, the CEO should reserve the balance of the time for strategy creation and execution. Weekly, quarterly and yearly mechanisms should be in the CEOs default calendar to review progress with various levels of leadership depending on the size and complexity of the organization. At least weekly the leader of the company should have an early breakfast meeting with other C leaders in the business to discuss strategy in a more informal manner. On a weekly or monthly basis the CEO can review departmental progress of key strategic initiatives to ensure progress and accountability. This can be combined with quarterly and yearly reviews with a larger portion of their organization to leverage ideas and drive clarity deeper in the organization.

 

The leader of any organization regardless of size must ensure the correct people, processes and tools exist to free them from the day to day grind of business operations. Their role is to work directly with customers and direct the strategy to grow their business to include revenues and gross margins. This infrastructure should be developed early in the life cycle of the company and most certainly before the organization has 50 employees or $1MM in revenues. With this in place the organization can scale and realize double digit growth year over year.

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Key Performance Indicators – The only way to properly delegate in your business

 

A Key Performance Indicator System is one of the most important strategies you can implement in your business if you desire to experience freedom from the operational responsibilities of your company. A Key Performance Indicator System measures and reports the key activities in your business so that everyone knows how their efforts are either making or breaking the business. Without this, it’s impossible for your team to know how the business is running, how they’re doing, and what they need to change.

 

Here’s how it works. Imagine that you have to spend the next few months alone on an island with your cell phone. You’re allowed to make just one 60-minute call per week to just a few people in your company to direct and coach their activity. What numbers (usually 5 to 10) would you like sent to your cell phone at the end of each day to give you a very clear idea of how the day went, how the team performed, and how the business is running? What numbers will give you the basis for coaching your team to run the business effectively in your absence?

 

Here’s a partial list of common KPIs used by most business owners, as organized by business function:

 

Marketing

    1. Leads generated
    2. Cost per lead

Sales

    1. Inbound calls
    2. Appointments set
    3. Appointments conducted
    4. New sales closed
    5. Average sale value
    6. Conversion rate
    7. Revenue generated
    8. Revenue growth rate

Operations

    1. Units produced per hour
    2. Gross profit per unit sold
    3. Product returns
    4. Inventory turns
    5. Average transaction value
    6. Billable hours per employee
    7. Average hourly rate
    8. Customer satisfaction
    9. Customer retention
    10. Revenue per customer

Finance

    1. Current Ratio
    2. Quick ratio
    3. Inventory Days
    4. Accounts Receivable Days
    5. Accounts Payable Days
    6. Gross Profit Margin
    7. Net Profit Margin
    8. Advertising to Sales
    9. Rent to Sales
    10. Payroll to Sales
    11. Interest Coverage Ratio
    12. Debt-to-Equity Ratio
    13. Debt Leverage Ratio
    14. Return on Equity
    15. Return on Assets
    16. Fixed Asset Turnover

Questions to consider as you’re crafting your KPI system:

 

1.  How often you want to review your KPIs? (Daily, weekly)

2.  What key positions and responsibilities do you want to measure? (Review your organizational chart and position descriptions)

3.  What KPIs are important to you? (Numbers, ratios, percentages)

4.  How do you want the information delivered? (Fax, email, text message)

5.  How often will you communicate the KPIs to your team? (Email, bulletin board)

6.  What indicates good performance in this position? What is the goal? How do you measure good performance?

From there the business owner assigns accountability and creates operating rhythms to coach team members. This is the only real way to delegate to your staff and ensure effort is allocated to the 20% of actions driving 80% of your desired outcomes. Consistent actions will drive extraordinary results … Guaranteed!

Don Vanpool

P.S. Also remember, to determine how likely your marketing is to convert, simply fill out my Conversion Equation Evaluator.

This evaluator has the unprecedented ability to predict the future success of any marketing collateral you develop… as well as predict whether that marketing will be profitable or not. And, it’s 100% free to use!

After calculating your marketing conversion level, I can show you exactly what to do with your website and marketing collateral that could double or triple the number of prospects who respond to your marketing.

Just schedule a complimentary meeting with me.

9 Time Tested Principles of Leadership

There are 9 time-tested principles of leadership that will work for all leaders at every level of an organization. This is the CEO to the newest employee with no direct reports, endeavoring to drive positive change. Print this list, keep it handy and get an accountability partner.

 

  1. Know yourself and embrace life-long learning— understand who you are, your values, priorities, strengths and weaknesses. And have a development plan.
  2. Be the master of your domain — before leaders can lead effectively, they must have mastered the tasks required by the people they lead. In addition, leaders train their people to do their own jobs while understudying the leader so that they are prepared to replace the leader if necessary.
  3. Embrace accountability and take the initiative– Organizational effectiveness depends upon having leaders at all levels that exercise initiative, are resourceful and take opportunities that will lead to goal accomplishment and business success.
  4. Lead by example— people want and need their leaders to be role models. This is a heavy responsibility, but leaders have no choice. No aspect of leadership is more powerful.
  5. Know your people and look out for their welfare — it is not enough to know the names and birth dates of your people. You need to understand what motivates them and what is important to them. Commit time and effort to listen to and learn about them. Keep them updated and informed.
  6. Ensure the mission is understood and teams are held accountable— your team must understand what you want done, to what standard and by when.
  7. Develop a sense of responsibility among your people— people feel a sense of pride and responsibility when they successfully accomplish a new task. Delegation indicates trust in people and encourages them to seek responsibility.
  8. Train cross-functional teams — teamwork is becoming more and more crucial to achieving goals. Teamwork is possible only when people have trust and respect for their leader and for each other as competent professionals and see the importance of their contributions to the organization.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions— leaders must assess situations rapidly and make sound decisions. They need to know when to make decisions themselves, when to consult with people before deciding and when to delegate the decision.

PS. Do not leave this blog until you have a plan of action!

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Don Vanpool … AKA “The King of Cash”