As a business owner, we go through phases in our business journey. In the beginning, everything is new and exciting, and a little scary. You are learning as you move forward, and making great progress towards your goals. And then somewhere along the way, things start to slow down. You are no longer on the same path that you were, and you may not have even noticed the change when it happened. But suddenly, you feel like you can’t take a day off because things will fall through the cracks. Maybe your team is no longer aligned and you feel like no one is able to make smart business choices in your absence. Or maybe you’re assigning tasks to team members only to find out they were subparts or deleted all at once? If you have experienced any of these things, you are experiencing a period of drift.
Drift occurs when a business loses its focus. When things that were once clear or you thought were obvious, they begin to decay. Drift happens when your company completely misses out on its priorities and it’s wasting resources on things that don’t matter. Drift occurs when timelines are starting to suffer, not because of extraneous things one might not have expected, but because of mismanagement or friction. This is a time in your business that is not only hard to endure, but it can actually be a breaking point in your business if you don’t do things right.
It is important to note that there is always some degree of drift. You will never allow 100% of your best energy to be focused only on your best stuff. It never works that way. Life is not so clear. But we aim, as much as possible, to focus our best talents on the end goal.
If you find that your business is experiencing a drift, there is a solution. This is called consistency. It’s basically a fancy way of saying that you and your team are united for a common goal. And the most common reason a business will go downhill is because they’ve lost sight, or perhaps stopped setting goals all together. Once you get past the startup phase and are consistently bringing in revenue, it becomes easy to get comfortable. It’s easy to go through the motions daily to help your customers and maintain the status quo. But if you stop setting goals for yourself, drift is inevitable. You must have a way. Something to work on as a team. And once you have a path, you need to have a strategy or plan to get there.
Every year for my business and the thousands of business owners I coach, we do this through quarterly action plans. We create a written one-page document that outlines what our goals are for a company, and the steps we plan to take to get there. And once we’ve created that action plan, we share it with the rest of the team to get buy-ins from the group. At each team meeting we review our action plan and align ourselves with the goals within us, and every quarter we repeat the process. So at the most, even if we fail to stick to our desired goals, you only have a month or two to recover. Which is very easy to bounce back from the drift years of that time.