When is the last time that you as a business owner truly stopped for 30 minutes or an hour and truly took some quiet time to reflect on your business? Like most owners, it’s probably been quite some time. We all get busy doing things, working hard, taking care of customers, running the business. But if we don’t take some time each day, week, month or quarter to slow down, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Business leaders and owners need the time to slow down to think. Otherwise, we end up trapping ourselves in the business by grinding it out day in and day out instead of working on the business. 

There’s no time like the present. Take some time right now (yes, stop whatever you were doing before reading this article) and grab a pad of paper with nothing on it. Write down 10 facts about your business right now: five things going well and five things not going well. Use real business statistics and facts.

Be brutally honest with yourself. No one else will see your list. Done? Here are your next steps:

  • OK, now review that list today and the rest of this week. Jot notes next to each item on your list.
  • For the positives, tell someone something good: your employees, your team, your clients.
  • For the negatives, make a note about what you intend to do about it in the next quarter – what you’re going to change, who needs to be involved and how it will get done.
  • Now take that list and keep it with you in your notebook, planner, journal or laptop.
  • Look at it at least once per day, preferably in the early morning or at the end of your day.

Most owners I’ve met don’t do this very often. It can seem a little depressing to start with. You may think of many more negatives than positives. Don’t let that deter you. This is not about being good or bad but making positive progress. The sooner you admit there is a problem, whatever it is, the sooner you can deal with it and get rid of it forever.

Think about:

  • What process you need to put in place to eliminate the negative?
  • Who do you need to engage to help you solve the problem (inside or outside the business)?
  • What three actionable steps do you need to take today, this week or this month to progress a solution?

And obviously, my last point, is to get a coach! While some see this as a sign of weakness, great performers do not. Professional sports teams have coaches and so do great business professionals. Alan Mulally, former Boeing and Ford CEO has had a coach for decades. Coaches aren’t here to tell you what to do. They are here to guide you, challenge you, give you an outsider’s perspective. The job is to get the most out of a business leader and allow them the ability to be challenged, change and improve. Find one that fits but find one that is willing to disagree with you, to hold you accountable to face reality to meet your goals, vision and that list you just made.

Now go take on the day!

Bob Paden is owner of The Growth Coach Indianapolis North, business growth and sales coaching company focused on helping clients earn more, work less and enjoy richer lives.