Here’s When to Zoom Out for the Big Picture

Here’s When to Zoom Out for the Big Picture

It’s exciting and demanding to own a small business. Chances are you’re juggling details and decisions all day long – and maybe into the evening as well.

Here are a few times when it’s important to step back from day to day operations to evaluate where you are and where you’re heading:

When:  Your company is growing rapidly but you and the staff are struggling to keep up.

Why:  To evaluate how sustainable and desirable this growth spurt is.

What to look for:  Signs that the increased demand from your customers is likely to continue.  A drop in the quality of your services or customer interactions. Increased mistakes. Staff burnout.

What steps to take:  Plan a sustainable growth rate.  Add staff and delegate some decisions. Identify how you will manage cash flow.

When:  Your company’s growth is stagnant.

Why:  To identify causes and create a response plan.

What to look for:  Loss of key customers or staff. New competitors offering similar products or services. Competition from a new technology or other innovation that is shifting the market.

What steps to take:  Adjust your cost structure. Plan new offerings, better service or another way to compete effectively. Identify potential new investments in growth and the likely payoff from them.

When:  You anticipate selling the company, hiring a new CEO, or bringing in younger family members.

Why:  To evaluate the company’s real worth, current weak spots, and potential future value.

What steps to take:  Look at the last 3 to 5 years’ trends in market share, profitability, staffing, competitors and legal/regulatory environment.  Fix obvious weaknesses where possible. Create a clear vision for how you want to transition and why.

Truly unable to make time for the big picture?  Sometimes a knowledgeable outside advisor is the best way to gather the details and lay out the issues. Just be sure to zoom out and know where you’re headed and where you want to go.

Dr. Robin Burk is a former entrepreneur turned author and consultant, who focuses on the connections between people, systems and organizations. See Robin Burk's full bio here.