One of the key jobs of CEO’s and CFO’s is to be looking out long-term.  While your employees are looking at daily performance and your managers are focused on quarterly or yearly goals, the business is depending on you to be the forward-thinker. Whether it’s building for the long-term or planning a successful exit strategy, you need to build a solid foundation.

Creating A Winning Culture

Every successful company has at its core a culture that is evident throughout the organization.  The culture drives employees to provide superior customer service.

We are superior to the competition because we hire employees who work in an environment of belonging and purpose.” – Horst Schulze, Former President, Ritz Carlton

Combining talent with relentless execution is what defines great companies.

Putting Customers First

Winning companies understand their customers and their needs and put them at the center of what they do.  Developing solid relationships and loyal customers provide a base for growth.

Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Apple

And, managers and business owners learn from the customers that aren’t satisfied.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates, Co-Founder, Microsoft

Managing Transitions

Doing the right things in the right order is a critical task.  Transitioning from a startup to a profitable enterprise will bring change as companies grow.  As your business grows, your needs, your employee’s needs, and your customer’s needs will change.

Choreographing the change, in sequence, can make the difference between explosive growth and becoming stagnant.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” — Charles Darwin, The Theory of Evolution

A Consistent Vision

Employees look to you to provide a clear vision for the future, even if you aren’t sure exactly what that future will look like.  It’s your job to steer the ship.  While being open about risks, you need to project confidence about your ability to navigate the waters.

“If you don’t invest in risk management, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, it’s a risky business.” – Gary Cohn, CEO Goldman Sachs

Managing Your Growth Plan

Company growth needs to be documented and measured. Define your key indicators affect the growth and profitability of your business and measure them.  Be prepared to demonstrate how you are leading your company towards your goals.

Whether your strategy is growing market share, increasing margins, growing gross revenues, growing through mergers and acquisitions, or something else, it’s critical you can define it and measure it.

“Managing by objective works – if you know the objectives.  90% of the time you don’t.”  – Peter Drucker, Management Consultant/Author

Grow Stakeholder (And Shareholder) Value

In order to position your company for an exit strategy, you need to show a strategy to also grow stakeholder/shareholder value.  Nobody invests in a company they don’t think is moving forward or has potential for measurable growth.  Manage the balance sheet as stringently as the cash flow.

None of that happens, however, with focusing on your core constituency.

“Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy.  Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers, and your products.” – Jack Welch, Former Chairman, General Electric