The Entrepreneur's Plan & Position Guide

How to use reflection insights to position yourself, your employees, and your business for success.

Earlier, we introduced the Entrepreneur’s Review & Reflect Guide to help you harness the power of reflection. We suggested that taking time for deep reflection at least once a year may reveal powerful new insights. In this follow-up piece, we offer ways in which you can leverage these insights to better plan and position your business for success.

1. Plan & Position for Your Team

Learn from non-performance

We have all heard the Albert Einstein quote: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid.” In a business context, you may have employees who are not performing well. Don’t be too quick to judge, though. After all, you must have seen something in them when you hired them. Non-performance could signal that the right person is in the wrong role. It’s important to find out whether this mismatch is accidental or intentional — in the latter case, it’s often because your employee’s aspirations and aptitude fall in different areas. Once you have this context and understand your employee’s stance on the matter, you can make more informed personnel decisions, whether it’s a role change or an amicable offboarding.

Taking time to delve deeper into the different causes of non-performance is a major learning opportunity that can help you improve your recruitment process and talent management programme in the long run.

Equip your people to rise to expectations

Now, turn your attention to your superstars. You have your eye on these employees because they are consistent high-performers and/or have significant potential to take on bigger roles. Be careful though — just because they are doing well doesn’t mean they don’t need support. It’s natural to expect more and more of employees who are excelling but it’s only fair to do so if you have given them all the support and resources they need. This could range from due recognition and daily encouragement to systems, processes, and productivity tools. The best way to find out what your employees value is to engage them in conversation. Even if you cannot provide them with everything they want, showing that you’re invested in their well-being and performance can be motivation in itself.

When you engage your employees in these resource meetings regularly (because needs and circumstances change over time), you benefit from a clearer perspective of what’s happening on the ground while boosting employee morale.

2. Plan & Position Using Your Capabilities

Think small to go big

Reflecting on your strategic capabilities and core competencies is an important part of the review process. Many business owners focus on these to define their position in the market in terms of competitive differentiation but, in the pursuit of growth, can lose sight of their niche areas. Oftentimes, startups and small businesses will find greater success directing their limited resources to serving a specific market segment well, rather than trying to sell to everyone. After carving out a niche for your business, growth can take the form of expanding your target customer base, replicating your success in new geographic areas or investing in complementary niche areas. The key is to stay focused on what you do best.

Play safe with your competencies, not your capabilities

In the Entrepreneur’s Review & Reflect Guide, we’ve made the distinction between core competencies (what you do best) and key capabilities (how you deliver this). While core competencies can be a strategic advantage and should be safeguarded, capabilities deserve to be grown, especially in today’s fast-changing world. Capabilities are often discussed in technological terms but there are many other ways of innovating as well. Delivering a better customer experience, for example, can start from engaging, upskilling, and motivating your employees. By taking stock of your current capabilities in context of your future business direction and strengthening the necessary areas, you can be better prepared for the future. Don’t forget that there are many government grants in Singapore that are designed to help small businesses grow their capabilities.

3. Plan & Position Based on Your Traction

Not all successes are equal

When thinking about the traction your business has gained in the review period, you may be tempted to automatically push forward in areas where your business has done well — that’s building on success, right? It is, but it’s also worthwhile to analyse the situation before making that call because not all successes are equal. Consumer trends, for example, are notoriously quick to peak. Businesses that catch the upward swing enjoy success but this may be short lived. In some cases, it’s better to stop when you’re winning; in others, it makes sense to go the distance.

Take the time to right the wrongs

Your review would necessarily cover what went wrong during a certain period and why. There are always lessons to be learnt, even from the smallest mistakes, but don’t stop there. Involve your team in a debriefing session to identify key mistakes and brainstorm possible measures to prevent history from repeating itself — because nothing changes if nothing changes. Whether it’s refining internal processes or customer-facing practices, or changing the way you forecast the time and resources needed to deliver a project, talking through issues and putting in solutions on paper serves as a good reminder for everyone.

We hope that this Plan & Position Guide is helpful as you prepare your business for the next step. If you’re keen on more tips, ideas and resources for building a successful business, subscribe using the form below to get the latest Lifepreneur articles delivered directly to you!

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