Does your business compass always point true north?


Roadblocks. Setbacks. Detours.  We all have them.

I admit some days in business it can feel like you take one step forward and two steps backwards.

A job doesn’t go so well, a client complains or an employee leaves.  When things aren’t going so well you undoubtedly start questioning yourself whether you made the right call.

However here’s the news.  Pressure turns coal into diamonds.  I can’t be more clear on this.  It takes courage.  It means being resolute.  It takes focus.  As a business owner these decisions, in these moments, is truly how diamonds are made – when setbacks happen and the doubt creeps in one of the most important characteristics you need to develop as a business owner is the courage to keep your compass clearly aimed to your true north.

At the same time, I’m a big fan off reflecting on setbacks – at Atticus we use a military term called After Action Review to reflect.  Could I or the team have done something differently to get a different result?  What went well?  What didn’t go well?  Sometimes this can mean it’s time to adjust your course or speed – but too often we business owners let relatively small roadblocks or setbacks detour them permanently off course.

Why, because they don’t have a pin on their true north on the map in their mind.  True north isn’t clear enough in the business owner’s mind.  They haven’t spent enough time firstly defining their true north and then communicating this to their team.  The business owner isn’t clear on what they expect of themselves, the business, their team and their clients.  Without having a clear standard, his how can you expect those around you to hold the standard?

Everyone’s true north is different but to me the true north is all about who I want to be as a person, what sort of people do I want my team to grow into and where I want the business to be in the future.

This means first starting at the big picture – time frames, goals, how big or how small, where, what about my business gets me out of bed in the morning, what do I love doing, what’s the future of my industry and where are the opportunities?

And then being really granular about it:

  • defining the clients I want to work with
  • what will be my service offering
  • do I need to develop new services and importantly do I need to develop new skills to offer those services
  • what team will I need around me to be part of this journey – what are their roles, responsibilities and what skills do I need to develop in them
  • what technology will we need to explore and implement
  • what processes and systems do I need to implement

Every day actions need to align with your true north – small decisions about changes in procedures, job roles, feedback when mistakes happen, how we communicate to a client need to be cross-checked in the business owner’s mind against the true north and then if it aligns it’s a go.  If not, you really need to ask yourself – is this a temporary detour or will this put me permanently off course?

Would you like to chat about where you are at with your business? Wondering about how to define your true north? We’d love to talk to you. Pop us an email or give us a call!

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