Getting Back to Basics: Do not move forward without a quick look back

Starting a business is a crazy, chaotic process. At some point
things start to settle down and you might say to yourself, “I got this; I know
what I am doing.” You still have day to day issues, but things are running
pretty smoothly. You might think you can operate on cruise control until there
is a speed bump, possible detour or a fork in the road that derails your well
thought out plan.

In order to grow, you need to learn from what you have already done. You need to stop, re-assess, and come up with your new course of action. Reflection is good if it is done with the right frame of mind. If you think of a reflection as looking in the rear view mirror, you will look at things a bit differently. Remember that looking in the rear view mirror is a quick look back, once, maybe twice. Do not dwell heavily on the past.

Why do you look in the rear view mirror? You do it to see what
is behind you to avoid hitting something. If you think of your periodic
business reflecting in this way, you can use what you have done in order to
avoid making a mistake going forward. Looking at things with a critical eye on
how to avoid them in the future is similar to avoiding something when driving.

Keep in mind, there will always be things in your way or line
of vision. Being alert and paying attention to details helps eliminate the
likelihood of an accident or misstep, both while driving and in running your

Reflect on how your business performed by making a list of the
top 3 things that you and your team did to improve the business in the areas of
operations, finance team, and brand. These are top line items, not the day to
day results. The reason to focus from the top down is that without a clear message
and proper alignment to move forward as an organization, you will have a much
harder time meeting your goals.

Assess and learn. Look at what you have done right as well as
what you could have done better. Make minor adjustment for the next phase. Having
said that, you need to make sure the foundation is solid. This assessment will
allow you to “fix” the cracks
and make things stronger. A strong foundation is necessary to withstand any
possible issues going forward.

One last look at the overall picture. Ask yourself:

  • What were the surprised/unknown factors that had an impact (good or bad) on your business; should you have known/anticipated these things?
  • What factors that impacted your business were within your control or not in your control?
  • What steps could have been taken/should have been taken earlier to change the outcomes?
  • How did these factors have an impact on your business results?
  • How will what you have learned impact the company moving forward?

Now that you have done a little reflecting, look
ahead and use your answers to make changes going forward.

You will still need
to go back and take a look in your rear view mirror as you go along,
but looking forward through the windshield, staying on course, and sticking to
your plan will create a clear path forward. You must stay in your lane and stay
the course until you reach your destination. Changing lanes when driving may
seem like you are getting ahead, but do you really end up in front of others?
Do you get there faster? You may be moving, but rarely are you getting ahead.
You must commit enough time to put all the pieces in place and to put the plan
in motion before you decide it is not the path you want to follow.