Is your business your neat fort? Is it where you go to hide, or where you struggle to leave because you feel it can’t run without you?
If so, Donald Cooper says you have work to do. Cooper says you can run your business and still have a life—other business leaders do it every day—but first you need to fix the operation of your business. That starts through clarity.
“Your number one job is clarity,” says Cooper, who spoke Tuesday to distributors at the VIPAR Heavy Duty Annual Business Conference in Orlando. “If you are not clear about certain things [in your business], who else could possibly be?”
Cooper says unclear leadership impacts all aspects of a business, from how employees interact with each other and customers to how business success is measured. No business can reach peak efficiency and profitability without clarity, and setting business goals without a clear path to achievement make said goals nearly unattainable.
“We’re all trying to get from here to there,” says Cooper, “but most business managers are in denial about where here is, and have no idea where there is.”
Cooper says clarity is everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. But adds, “A lot of companies don’t even have a hymn sheet, so how can you except anyone to sing from it?”
To build clarity in a distributor operation, Cooper says it’s best to start with your target customers. But don’t just identify them, try to find their wants and needs. What do they expect from a distributor, and what value or service could you provide them that would be unique in the marketplace?
Cooper says once these questions are answered a distributor should focus on the development of an operational vision statement. He defines an operational vision as a “clear, specific and measurable statement of what we commit to become to be a more profitable and responsible market leader in three to five years.”
Essentially, it’s a roadmap for your business. A plan of how every aspect of your business will clearly cater to the desires of your customers, and work in unison to provide them an optimal buying experience. Cooper acknowledges how daunting that sounds. Creating a clear vision for a business requires not only creatively but also courage.
“There’s no point to be innovative if you don’t have the courage to implement all of the cool things you come up with,” Cooper says.