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Business Owner’s Corner

The Power of Clarity

By John Lawlor, Partner, MetroWest Business Advisors, LLC.

Most business owners in the small/medium market spend more time working in their business than on it. They struggle to break the daily routine and succumb to the "not enough time" conundrum. In comparison to their counterparts in bigger businesses, they do not have the resources, professional development, or systems in place to break out. But there is a way to change the game!

The premise: If people don’t know what you want to accomplish they can’t help you achieve your goals and will substitute their own (goals) in place. Clarity is a game changer and drives success – for businesses, organizations, divisions, and individuals alike.

The Business Case
Clarity starts with you, the business owner, and gets to the heart of why you are a business owner and what the business will do for you as an individual. Like money, business is means to something else. It allows you to do what is important and purposeful. Clarity allows passion and purpose to align and become a means to overcoming obstacles and achieving new heights.

Aside from being a means to overcoming obstacles and achieving new heights, what additional value does Clarity provide? Enough that we could write a book on the subject but here are a few of the highlights.

Note: We are writing in the context of business but you can substitute an individual in place of a business.

Clarity makes for easier and better decisions. Good decisions are made by following a process or framework. Great decisions are a function of how clear the objective is. Lack of clarity breeds options, at some point developing options wastes resources, with no way to determine which option delivers the most value, a cause for indecision.

  • Clarity leverages internal and external resources empowering others to act, innovate, and offer solutions that support the vision and goals. By sharing clear goals you change the equation for problem solving and innovation from one-to-many (aka top down) to many-to-one (frontline empowered). The result is exponential growth in organizational horsepower (the ability to do work, solve problems, and move toward the vision or goal) as you involve a greater and more diverse group of people.

  • Clarity reduces conflict and stress, improves efficiency. We can all use a little help here. A common challenge in business is balancing resources with work. Typically, there is more work than there are resources. Conflict arises, causes stress, and requires intervention (management) to resolve. Clarity provides the basis of a self-governing process that reduces conflict (prioritizing the work by amount of return on goal/vision) and the need for management (the system for determining which resources will be deployed to achieve the targeted outcome) is lessened.

  • Clarity greatly enhances your ability to find and retain the right people. People are the backbone of any organization. Hiring the right people for the right job and having the right diversity of people has proven to be more important to success than an idea. The easier and more clearly you are able to articulate where you want to go and what you want to achieve, the more powerful your appeal as an employer. People who are inclined with the same values and purpose will be attracted to your company.

Hopefully, many of you agree the case is strong enough to support the premise. The challenge becomes finding a way to introduce a strong dose of Clarity to your leadership style.  Defining what you want the future to look like is not easy. It forces you to reflect and really understand what is important. Many people perceive it to be risky. What if my vision is wrong for the company? What if I share something about myself that others won’t like? And, let’s not forget accountability. Once you state a vision or goal your actions will be measured against it.

In the perfect world developing Clarity for your business starts and ends with you as the owner and CEO. Businesses take on the personality, preferences, and values of the owner. You can’t separate them. If you have the resources and desire, we strongly encourage you to start with you, the individual. Having Clarity about your business goals and visions is so much easier. Be sure to give thought as to how you spend time (work and pleasure), how you want to be remembered, your values, the types of relationships you want to have, and the kind of people you want to associate with. These are the "why(s)" of your goals and visions. These help you determine why a goal or vision is important and how it will help you achieve your purpose (your "why"). These become your definition of success and allow you to begin to develop specificity around each of the goals.

Getting started
Most business owners don’t have extra resources to tackle the perfect world approach. When taking on a challenge like this, our recommendation is always to start with a few simple steps. Begin with one goal such as customer service. A simple example: so many businesses say they offer GREAT customer service. Any business can say it but do you know what it means?  Great is an adjective used to emphasize how much but is very vague or unclear. How do your strive for something if it’s not clear what the something is? Give it some Clarity; put some words to your definition of GREAT and what you want your customers to be saying about your company after they have done business with you. Run your GREAT definition through the Clarity Test. By simply providing more definition and then sharing it with your company you increase the horsepower of the organization. Your people can work toward the specific definition you have given GREAT. Not only will they value Clarity, they will help you figure out the best ways to deliver on your definition of GREAT.

The Clarity Test
To pass the Clarity Test a goal or vision must meet the following criteria;

  • Able to see your goal(s) or vision

  • Goal(s) or vision is in writing

  • Able to explain the goal(s) or vision to others in terms that they can understand and relate to

  • Able to share the "why" (what the goal or vision will do for you or the company and its employees and stakeholders)

Some of you are thinking ‘this article started out good and strong, but this last part is soft and mushy’. Perhaps, but the soft people stuff is the core to developing Clarity. And, we have already convinced you of the Power of Clarity.  Give Clarity a try. If you struggle or hit a bump, reach out for help. In our next article we will connect the Power of Clarity with the Power of People.

MetroWest Business Advisors, LLC
MetroWest Business Advisors specializes in preparing and positioning people and companies for Transition. For business owners with an intense desire to beat the transition odds MetroWest Business Advisors acts as Client Advocate and Chief Transition Officer planning, advising, coordinating, and resolving the overlaps between business, family, and wealth. With a core focus on improving business performance and maximizing business value clients are less stressed, find decision making easier, experiencing unprecedented business results, and feeling more in-control of their future.

To find out more about our proprietary process and unique toolset visit http://www.mwballc.com or e-mail [email protected]. For a complimentary and confidential conversation on your Transition Planning call 978-846-2125.

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