2. 3. 4. 5. 6. don’t know what “there” is! I’m not talk- ing mission and values here. What I’m looking for is, what does the company look like in the future? Geographical footprint? Size? Locations? Revenues? Margins? Number of people? Channels of business? As my client Brian Scudamore, Founder of 1-800-Got- Junk?, likes to say, the Painted Picture. Can you draw it, and attach appropriate timelines? Once we know the “What/Vision,” the BUSINESS PLAN is the “How.” Here we are looking for the strategies needed to accomplish the Vision. While the Vision will be further out in the future, the Business Plan focuses on the next one to two years, providing critical specific- ity as to who, when, where, and how. The FINANCIAL PLAN comprises our projected Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Source and Use of Funds (Cash Management). Here’s an area that cannot be ignored by the CEO but is too often neglected by the CEO. Delegation is fine; abdication is not. The CEO must have a handle on the numbers of the business and can drive the direction of the firm via-a-vis the BUSINESS PLAN. Attention to CASH is critical, and daily reporting and monitoring of cash should be a staple of any business. The entre- preneurial graveyard is packed with the bodies of businesses that focused on sales growth, only to find themselves out of cash to “pay the bills.” Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential for the CEO to have a firm grip on. All too often, CEOs ignore the “Leading Indicators,” which help us tell the direction the company is heading (as opposed to “Lagging Indicators” which generally report where we have been). The ORGANIZATION CHART has more to do with ownership of activities and accountability than anything else. The key here is to regularly ask the ques- tion as to whether the team in place is the team to take you where the Vision states. Many times, the leadership team a company begins with is not the team that will take the firm where its Vision states. 7. Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s, prob- ably said it best: the job of the CEO is not to run the company; it’s to grow the company, and you don’t do that sitting behind a desk at corporate. I’m not sug- gesting that the CEO “sells,” but being more active in the field with their sales teams will bring significant growth to the company. 8. KEY RELATIONSHIPS need to be nur- tured on an ongoing basis by the CEO. These can include banking relations, key customers, vendors, investors, and various other relationships that can be relied on in both good and bad times. 9. Are you tapping into those who have “been there, done that”? MENTORS/ ADVISORY BOARDS can be worth their weight in gold in terms of extending the reach of relationships, tapping into growth opportunities, and avoiding los- ing direction based on their reservoir of experience. 10. INDUSTRY NETWORKING has present- ed countless opportunities for growth in my previous businesses. Keeping 12. FOCUS precedes success. When Steve Jobs was asked what he was most proud of, he surely had plenty to choose from. His answer was quite revealing: all the things he said NO to. Witness Apple as the highest-valued company in the world selling very few products. Yet, we regularly witness entrepreneurs chasing too many shiny objects. 13. How much of your time is being invest- ed in TODAY vs. TOMORROW? Salim Ismail, in his classic book Exponential Organizations, underscores the amount and speed of change in technology and how most business platforms will be rendered obsolete in a relatively short period of time. What are you doing to stay ahead of the change coming to your industry and business? 14. CONTINUING EDUCATION – How much time are you allocating to staying ahead of your competition and keeping abreast of where your industry is head- ing? As my friend Verne Harnish says so well, “Leaders are readers.” Once we know the “What/Vision,” the BUSINESS PLAN is the “How.” Here we are looking for the strategies needed to accomplish the Vision. While the Vision will be further out in the future, the Business Plan focuses on the next one to two years, providing critical specificity as to who, when, where, and how. one’s ear to the happenings within the industry can often uncover avenues for growth that can often be missed by those whose noses are singularly placed inside the business. 11. Peter Drucker said it best: CULTURE eats strategy for breakfast. The CEO should ensure the appropriate systems and processes are in place for consist- ent recognition and communication. All too often we see CULTURE by default, when it should be by design. 7 15. We use the word leader often in business, and I say that we somehow dropped off the beginning letters to what’s needed: CHEERLEADER. Building and growing a business is challenging and can often be rewarding. However, I’m hard-pressed to locate the successful business that doesn’t encounter potholes along the way. As the CHEERLEADER of the com- pany, it’s the CEO’s responsibility to se- cure and grow the enthusiasm of all in pursuit of the Vision.