Coming out of the ashes – take up your life

You need to develop strategies to achieve business growth

Previously published by me on linkedIn in 2015 as What can be done when your dream turns to ashes before your eyes

Many persons have been told of the importance of setting goals and they follow the steps to setting and achieving them and often they end up with a successful career or business. Frequently, they then settle back and relax, secure in all aspects of what Conrad Brian Law in “ Success is Achieving Your Dreams” calls the American dream – a house, car, family, successful career and money.

In today’s environment we cannot settle down and believe that having achieved our goals there is nothing more to be done. I have been studying the number of jobs that are lost, not because of retrenchment, downsizing or closures but because these job functions are no longer required. Technology, the fast rate of change, the global environment, the Internet and many other factors are causing such job loss. How Technology Is Destroying Jobs by David Rotman and “Can smart machines take your job? Middle class jobs increasingly being replaced by technology” by the Associated Press, are wake up calls for those of us who believe we have arrived and everything is alright with our world.  Brynjolfsson and McAfee, authors of Race Against the Machine, believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. Today’s environment is one of job loss through technology and businesses that lose their relevance. For example, the typewriter manufacturing industry has died.

What can be done to stay relevant today or refocus yourself and/or your business lest your dreams tumble

Change is occurring at unprecedented rates. Both businesses and individuals have to continually reposition themselves in keeping with the requirements of the changing environment.

Key questions for owners of businesses are:

  • What is happening in your industry? Do you know? Are you monitoring the trends, etc?
  • Is your business product/model still relevant to the times?
  • What strategies do you use to stay current in an ever changing world that keeps demanding new products, new processes, the meeting of new legal requirements, etc?
  • What new skills are required? Are your staff being properly retooled?
  • What is happening with the suppliers of key inputs into your operations? Are they facilitating your being able to compete successfully?
  • What are similar organizations doing to stay relevant and profitable?

Key questions for individuals:

What are the trends in your field? How much of what you did previously is now being done by machines?

  • Are you able to adequately handle new technology or procedures or ways of doing things? Are you familiar with the new materials being used?
  • Is your skill base still relevant for the work you are doing?
  • Who is your competition and how are they positioned?
  • What flexibility do you have in the event of job loss? What are your options and are you prepared to exploit them if necessary?

T.D.Jakes book- Reposition Yourself, Living Life Without Limits is a book you should read.

To stay relevant and reposition yourself and/or your business you need to:

1  Develop a strategic plan. This can be a business strategic plan or a personal strategic plan

Organizations have entire departments continually scanning their environment and recommending strategies to reposition them so that their operations can be profitable and sustainable. The concept of personal strategic planning is one that is not widely followed but it can help you to adjust to your changing environment. You have to look ahead, anticipate changes and develop strategies to proactively and successfully navigate the often turbulent environments in which you are living and doing business. It is through this type of planning that you can assure yourself of the best possible future. 

One Sunday, my pastor in a sermon asked us whether we had prepared strategic plans for our lives. I was taken aback because I did not expect the sermon to centre on this type of planning. He took us to the Bible to demonstrate God, the Long Range Planner. He showed that plans for man were properly laid out and the coming of Jesus was not only well thought out but properly marketed from the Old testament into the New Testament. Other religions show similar planning by their deities, prophets, etc.

You should adopt roll over planning so that you determine continuously whether your goals, objectives and strategies are still relevant. Such analysis may point to changes you should make to ensure the best future for yourself and/or business.

2 Develop the habit of Continuous Learning

This is necessary for survival in this fast changing global environment. Change is now exploding exponentially. The rate of change is speeding up. The world is shrinking and can best be described as a global village in which persons do business across national borders. Today, you cannot survive on information/knowledge of how things were done years ago. You need to develop skills required in your field today.  The mechanic who did not study the computer as it relates to the operations/maintenance of cars is losing business as many cars use computer technology. 

3  Prepare a Personal and/or Business SWOT analysis. 

SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses (internal analysis) opportunities, threats (external analysis). SWOT analysis helps you to know your strengths and determine how you can leverage them to achieve your goals. It will also help you to determine your weak areas and devise new strategies to improve in these areas. Through SWOT you are able to identify the opportunities available in your environment and determine those you are in a position to exploit. The threats have to be analyzed and strategies developed to respond to such threats. It is important to note that as you change your goals and as you grow, there will be corresponding changes in your SWOT.  For example, if you want to be a mechanic, chemistry qualifications may not be a strength but if your goal is to be a doctor, it is a strength.

4 Get a mentor or business coach – there are free online sources of mentors 

Many of the problems you have been experiencing can be easily resolved by collaborating with persons who are experienced in your field and who have accumulated relevant learnings over a period of years. We tend to believe that talent is enough but the most talented players have coaches. In the Caribbean we have to accept the value of a mentor. A mentor establishes a measure of accountability as you need to work with plans you both develop.You should search for one with qualifications, knowledge and experience in your specific area or an expert in the problem you are experiencing e.g. marketing. Prepare however to properly articulate your problem and what you need the mentor to help you with.

You do not have to go it alone. MicroMentor is a free, easy-to-use social network that allows entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors to connect so they can solve problems and build businesses together. You are able to pick your mentor based on their expertise and experience. Be sensitive however to the mentor’s time and if your needs require many hours of the mentor’s time over a period of time, you should consider a paying relationship with a mentor. As with all relationships express and show appreciation for a job well done.