Before the age of advanced navigation devices, sailors used the stars to navigate the high seas. Just by observing the heavens, a skilled seafarer could recognize when they’d drifted off course. They wouldn’t arrive at the right destination unless they adjusted their trajectory!
Drifting off course can happen by human error and outside forces alike, but only those who take charge can set it all right.
When you own a business, you’re steering it just like a captain would his ship. And you’ve got to know how to course-correct when you find you’ve drifted away from your target.
Remember, if you need to course-correct, it's a good sign.
If you find yourself in need of realignment, it isn’t a sign of failure. If anything, having to change course means that you’re taking necessary risks. After all, nothing can go wrong if you play it safe! Think of it like human conflict. Conflict itself is actually very healthy. It can be a good and productive process – but only if you know how to handle it correctly.
5 Essential Steps for Business Course-Correction
Step 1: Determine where you went wrong.
Drifting off course doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve done something wrong. There are often multiple avenues to the same results. The problem is when we drift into “dangerous waters.” These threaten to compromise not only our vision but our ability to make an impact and a profit.
Business owners commonly slip off course by:
- Allowing people and projects to compromise their boundaries and capacity.
- Cutting corners to save time or money.
- Glorifying burnout culture.
- Forgetting why you started.
- Getting lost in the weeds.
- Trying to recreate someone else’s success story.
- Sticking to how things have always been done.
- Playing it too safe.
Step 2: Re-identify your targets.
You can’t correct your course if you’ve lost sight of the original path. Once you’re able to recognize that something has gone wrong, you’ve got to assess the situation to determine just how far off things have gone. You do this by reminding yourself and your team of your targets. These targets can be as concrete as deadlines and income goals or as ephemeral as your philosophy of business. Regardless, recognize where you want to be and how you intend to get there – and if where you are now is conducive to meeting those goals.
Step 3: Analyze your processes.
Kinks in your business process can be the culprit. You might have blind spots that have allowed things to slip through the cracks over time. As you identify your targets, you’ve got to ensure that you’ve created the right systems to hit the bullseye.
Part of this process demands stress-testing your business model. Where does it break? How has it fallen short? Where, then, can you make improvements? Tightening things up and pivoting is key, particularly when our tendencies are to do things as we’ve always done them. Don’t be afraid to drastically shake things up. It might be necessary!
Step 4: Absorb new information.
We live in a rapidly changing business environment, regardless of industry. Sometimes course correction isn’t about getting back on your original track – it’s about changing course for the better. Be agile and attentive to innovations in your industry. Check on the competition. Keep learning and honing your expertise. And, most of all, be willing to see when your first idea isn’t working and change course accordingly.
Step 5: Take Immediate Action.
Business owners must understand the urgency in a scenario that demands a major change in trajectory. Your time, your money, the business you’ve built? It’s too important to let drift away. It might take time to chart a new course or rediscover the original one. Regardless, business owners must be prepared to take quick action. Your team feels and feeds off your energy. If you’re conveying that this isn’t that important to fix, it’s not likely change will be taken seriously.
There is always going to be risk associated with change, but that’s just a pill we all must swallow. If where you are isn’t working, it’s not going to suddenly start.
Identify what must change. Make an informed plan. Then put it into action!