I just got off a call with a friend who is a retired executive of a Fortune 500 company where he ended his career on their Board of Directors. He just told me that despite the tough economy that his company just declared a 10% stock dividend along with some other nice little perks that are affordable from a very good year. He asked me what I thought of that and after a few moments told him that I thought it was indicative of several smart things his company has done and that will continue to pay dividends well into the future. What are those things? Well, here is my quick & dirty list and, by the way, they are as applicable to very small companies as to the giants:
a) They have defined their corporate goals clearly and communicated them effectively to everyone in, or related to, the organization
b) The performance goals of every manager in the company support and complement the corporate goals. Everyone is on the same page
c) They obsessively monitor and measure the metrics that enable them to drive their business forward and are quick to make course corrections when and as necessary
d) Management at all levels gets regular (meaning monthly) reviews of financial performance along with forecasts and cash flow projections. As a result managers know what they have to do now in order to meet their goals
e) The culture in the business surely must include the overall tenor that today is everything, there is no tomorrow. In other words there is no latitude for putting off till tomorrow something that needs to be done today to meet objectives. There is no excuse for not being relentless in achieving goals; slackards are not welcome
f) Of course, all the necessary financial and management controls are in place to minimize risk of preventable loss but that is the cost of business. The important thing is that the company has well defined goals and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in the company knows what they are and are constantly striving to achieve them.
Obviously I don’t really know how the company operates but I have seen enough excellent organizations in my career to know that the traits listed above are common to all of them. Small businesses should adopt these principles as well. Every day that goes by without these ideas in place is a day full of lost opportunity. Don’t let that happen to your company.