5 min read

7 Steps To Take Your Business To The Next Level

Jan 25, 2019 6:30:00 AM

Today we’re sharing insight from guest blogger, Jim Canfield, President of CEO Tools. We hope you enjoy Jim’s wisdom and perspective.

Canfield - 7 - BlogAt some point, all CEOs or managers have to ask themselves, “How do we get to the next level?”

The answer could cover a daylong workshop.

Luckily, seven simple steps or business tools, based on the book CEO Tools, provide a jump-start to finding those answers. Follow these and get what you need now to move your business forward.

1. Set Clearly Defined Directions

Establish clear, meaningful goals and milestones. Define what the next level looks like and then determine the strategies, tactics, and goals that will get you there. Use employee perspectives to analyze how clear your current direction is. Answer the following:

  • Do your employees know where your organization is headed?
  • Do they understand what actions they need to take to move in that direction?
  • Do they know if you are on track to achieving the most meaningful results?

2. Communicate Everything

Regular, reliable communication of information, feedback, and support creates trust, and trust is essential to accomplishing high-performance, superior results. As a business leader, the need for communication is even more important.

  • What communication tools do you use to create and reinforce trust?
  • How do your employees interpret your communications?
  • What is missing that forces them to “fill-in-the-blanks”?

3. Mind The Numbers

Need an example to illustrate the importance of data tracking? Imagine playing a competitive sport with no access to statistics or scores. You’d have no way to know if you were winning, or to make helpful changes. Before you can begin tracking data for business tools, determine which methodology is best.

  • What are you currently tracking?
  • Are you focused on the right result drivers?
  • How do you ensure that you’re tracking meaningful information (and not just numbers)?

4. Anticipate The Future

Evaluate past and current results, and anticipate the future so you can make it happen. Determine whether you are incorporating the future into your business equation by answering the following:

  • How well are you identifying opportunities and threats?
  • How reliably can you project results?
  • What business tools do you use to get the most useful feedback?

5. Identify Top-Performing Players

Processes are critical, but it takes the right players to make your team truly successful. As a leader, it’s crucial you know how to place (and coach) your top-performers. Jerry Goldress, the turnaround superstar, talks about getting results by “putting your best players in the game-changer positions.”

To form a winning team of your own, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What are your game-changer positions?
  • How do you ensure you get A-players in those positions?
  • How frequently do your key people receive coaching?

6. Keep Improving

Now it’s time for optimization, or making your system or process as effective as possible. Small changes often add up to big results, as followers of the Japanese concept Kaizen (“continual improvement”) know. Analyze your current structure to find ways to improve by considering the following:

  • What tools do you use to create processes that produce better results?
  • What tools do you use to improve your processes?

7. Celebrate Successes

Employee morale is vital, and you must ensure your employees feel valued and appreciated. As Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says, “If we keep our employees happy and engaged, they will keep our customers happy, who will reward us with their loyalty. That repeat business helps our bottom line and creates value for our shareholders.”

  • How can you make the excitement for winning a part of your culture?
  • Are you and others in the organization having fun?
  • Are you measuring employee and customer satisfaction?

What’s The Risk?

Reaching the next level can involve growing pains. But with these steps you can be ready to tackle any growing pains headed your way as you develop the vision for your company’s future. Whether your next actions involve improving profitability, acquiring new businesses or opening offices overseas, you will have the knowledge and experience you need.


This content was written and shared by guest blogger Jim Canfield.

jim canfield 9 (2)As president of CEO Tools, Jim provides winning strategies and business performance tools that empower CEOs to drive profitable growth. He brings a unique blend of past experience, including extensive learning in leadership theory and practice as well as “been there, done that” practical experience running several companies.

Jim has a long history of working with CEOs. Prior to joining Aprio and CEO Tools, Jim served as CEO of Renaissance Executive Forums, a leading membership organization for CEOs. He also worked with Vistage, the world’s largest CEO organization, as Chief Learning Officer and VP of west coast operations. He facilitated several CEO groups in Memphis, for which he won a “Chair Excellence” award. Jim has also logged over 10,000 hours as an executive coach, and many more facilitating strategic planning initiatives for CEO and executive clients.

Prior to his work with Vistage, he was co-founder and co-President of a regional transportation company and a partner in an investment company serving credit unions and community banks.

Connect with Jim on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Topics: Executive

Written by Gibson

Gibson is a team of risk management and employee benefits professionals with a passion for helping leaders look beyond what others see and get to the proactive side of insurance. As an employee-owned company, Gibson is driven by close relationships with their clients, employees, and the communities they serve. The first Gibson office opened in 1933 in Northern Indiana, and as the company’s reach grew, so did their team. Today, Gibson serves clients across the country from offices in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Utah.