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Complacency kills: how businesses can avoid self destruction

October 3, 2012
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we can do it Complacency kills: how businesses can avoid self destruction

Witnessing how a business can self destruct

Being in Commercial Real Estate, I get to see and interact with a lot of businesses, typically in the startup phase, or at their go/no go decision point. Unfortunately, because of this, I also get to see how a business can self destruct. In that spirit, I thought it would be useful to do a self-help for businesses check list with ten basic steps.

How to build a great company

  • Have a great plan.

This one is the most basic of them all. I mean draw it out not just in a business plan type format, but draw out everything. Communication channels, sales, and marketing channels, who key players are, etc. Create everything on paper and put it in the blueprint.  Without the blueprint and the set of directions, how are you going to know what the finished product will look like?

  • Accept interdependence.

Each department in your company cannot function independently. The accounting department can’t work without the marketing department, the marketing department can’t work without the mailroom, etc. No one division stands alone, and yes, that includes the leadership. All the departments are interrelated and cannot function independently.



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  • Vocalize the vision.

Sometimes things change throughout the lifespan of a business. The vision is not one of those. You need to have laser-like focus to keep things together, however, as a custodian of the vision, it is just as important to be the bullhorn. Make sure all members can articulate the vision of the company. This will result in all members exerting the company values to other members and to the customer base.

  • Share responsibility.

If it’s no one’s fault, it’s everyone’s fault. It is up to every member to accept the responsibility not only for themselves, but for the department, the task, and the entire company. Likewise, the buck stops with each member because without shared responsibility for the company, the buck literally will stop.

  • All decisions support the mission.

Put your self-interest behind the company mission. Always. All decisions must be made for the best interest and for the good of the entire company, not just for the task at hand, or what your department is working on, or for the size of the bonus you may get at the end of the year. Don’t just be mission critical, that’s short sighted, be company critical for long term growth.

  • The money map.

Show me your budget and I’ll show you what your focus is. I know this one hurts, but it’s true – you spend resources on what you care about. You can literally draw a money map from start to finish and follow where the money goes, and what result you achieve. Now something about this you may want to reconsider: if the money is not being returned on your map, you should also be able to visibly see where the money is not going and therefore you should not expect money to be returned without investment. See how that works?

  • Be results driven.

Evaluate your results on a line item basis. If your results are lacking, determine why and make changes as soon as possible. Train other members to do the same. Mark, measure, repeat. You’ve heard it said that if it’s not measured, it doesn’t get done. It’s true. Draw timelines. Draw results. Expect results.

  • Revive to survive.

Get up and change seats! Never be afraid or set in stone that you can’t changes things up a bit. New blood is always good. Change the responsibilities and tasks around, find new strengths in others. Expect new leadership. Complacency kills. Switch things up sometimes.

  • Never shut an open book.

No mission is ever finished. As long as a company is in business, the book is still being written. No job is ever done. Keep it that way. Even after a successful endeavor, go back and try to figure out how to make it better. Never stop growing and seeking new business channels as long as they all point back to the vision of the company. An open book should ever be closed. Besides, it’s bad luck anyway.

  • Culture of accountability.

This sometimes gets lost among the day to day hustle and bustle. It’s vitally important to instill accountability measures and only accept accountability. If there is an area lacking in results, define the reason, accept no excuses. Hold people, the mission, and the entire company accountable for success. Help figure out why there is a deficiency and correct it.

The takeaway

By implementing these simple steps into your organization, every fiber of your culture will benefit and keep your business afloat. Complacency kills, and consistent grooming is a survival tactic. Take a look at your accountability, your methods, and your blueprints, and don’t just seek out weaknesses, attack them wholeheartedly.

With 16 years of industry experience, earning his CCIM designation in 2007, Smith has held various leadership positions from CCIM Chapter President, CCIM Institute Regional VP, to Partner at McFalls & Smith International Development. Today, Smith is a commercial sales expert at Prudential PenFed Realty's Commercial Division, an Advisory Board Member at the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, and a Professor at the Professional Development Institute. Smith has educated hundreds of REALTORS, investors, and small business owners, helping them find success through Commercial Real Estate.