Today I want to revisit a video I did awhile ago about using the 5 whys technique to help with your operations management but twist it a bit to talk about making sure your goals and business strategy are in alignment.
If you haven’t seen the old 5 whys video, check it out before continuing.
The basic idea with the 5 whys technique is that you need to continually question why something is happening in order to get down to the root cause. So, for example, you begin asking why your net income last month was down at your restaurant and ask why over and over again until you realize it’s because your new wait staff hasn’t been trained to upsell your cocktails and desserts, which offer your highest margins.
The technique is an amazing tool for management, but it also works for assessing your goals and getting down to the root of what’s really important to you, which is key to ensuring that your business strategy aligns with your goals and to helping achieve those goals much more quickly than you thought you could. So, for example, you might start out by saying that you want to be able to generate a million dollars a year in revenue with your business but find out you just want to feel secure financially so you don’t have to worry if any big issues come up. If the real goal is to feel secure, there are many other ways to get there that don’t require revenues of a million dollars per year; everything from improving profitability so lower revenues generate the same profits for you to altering your personal financial management so that you’re saving now instead of waiting for the big pay day.
I know this seems petty, but it’s actually hugely important to understand what really motivates you and tailor your business strategy to that. I do this exercise with all of the students in my growth strategy development class and they all hate it and resist but feel empowered once they complete it honestly. One student in particular had a revelation about her motivations, which changed the way she managed her business and resulted in her generating more revenue in the 4 months following the class than she’d generated the entire previous year.
So, your homework is to sit down, write out your goals, and then keep asking yourself why that’s important to you until you get down to something real…and by something real I mean something deep and personal. “I want a million dollars so that people will consider me successful” is not deep and personal. Keep going and ask yourself why you care if others see you as successful.
Most people will find that it all comes back to freedom, security, or relationships. If the entrepreneur is a parent, it’s often about attaining enough that her children will have those things, not just that she will have those things. That doesn’t mean you necessarily will get the same, but about 99% of entrepreneurs will find that everything they want is really about one of those 3 things.
I strongly encourage you to do this exercise and then reevaluate if what you’re doing in your business is really moving you towards what you’re trying to accomplish. If not, come up with a new strategize because if something isn’t pushing towards your goals, it’s pulling you away from them. There really is no neutral in business or in life.
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