Operational Discipline via Leadership
Written by guest blogger Justin Salisbury,
Breeze Thru Car Wash- COO, Leadership Worth Following- Founder
All businesspeople embark on a journey to succeed. They chase the dreams of bringing their vision to life and making a living doing it.
Yet, 1 in 5 businesses fail in the first year and 1 in 2 fail by their fifth year. The shiny, glorifying concepts of what once were become dismal and at times, seemingly hopeless. Where did all the exciting dreams vanish to? How did it go from love to loathing?
The reality of the successes and failures in business is in the “how”. In “how” you discover the practices that operate your business day-to-day. Many people are capable of launching a business. After all, that is where the excitement and motivation lie; getting your business off the ground (i.e. taking it from abstract to reality). What is often calculated poorly is the “how” to maintain its existence. What to do day-in and day-out.
Some of this miscalculation is from imagined revenue streams or providing a service that you believe many will take-up. Either way, the energy devoted toward “how” to achieve ongoing transactions is often an underestimated workload. In fact, this discipline of effort can be down-right boring! Think about it. You just got this grand idea of yours to take hold and become a real enterprise. Now you are being tasked with how to begin the day, how to navigate the day, how to end the day, how to project the next move, how to forecast needs, allocating resources and inventory, recruiting people with likeminded interests, training people without likeminded interests, solving personnel challenges, correcting mistakes, etc. Through it all, you find little excitement because it sucks that entrepreneurial spirit right out of you.
What is actually happening is “Operational Discipline” of your business: creating consistency in operations. I reiterate, this is a grind. Consistency in operations is not glamorous, but it’s necessary to maintain that vivid dream of which began it all. You must determine a set number of disciplines to build stability. Right, wrong or indifferent, there needs to be a standard to deviate from. Stop only to correct the catastrophic instances, and return quarterly in Year 1, bi-annually in Year 2-3, then annually thereon to edit and adjust your structure to best fit your business needs. It takes high-level leadership to achieve Operational Discipline. It takes leadership that creates consistency and correctness over operations via people that are not you. The leader of this effort must see individual’s strengths, adapt to aptitudes, stimulate growth all while seeking consistent performance.
Let’s go back to the “boring” comment. Because it can be a soul-sucker to face this reality, go into your venture with one of two options in-mind. Either you need to possess the leadership to navigate the “how” or you need to partner up with someone that has it. A strong, focused leader that sees systems as tools to guide people by to achieve the vision is imminent. This level of leadership should be able to create systems that support the overreaching effort and successfully measure them for effectiveness. Achieving these marks will create consistent production, consistent customer interactions and consistent revenue. Most importantly, it will allow for simple indication as to what works well and what does not and remove the emotion from decisions…which is important because emotions are contagious and that applies to every emotion. So when your dream feels crushed because of this workload, you just conveyed to your team; “go find another job”. Stay the course with Operational Discipline and the team will grind with you.