The first step to taking your business to the next level is envisioning what will get you there. Ninety days away from your business will give you a fresh perspective.
Someone once said that if you truly love something, you have to set it free. In this case, that someone is my company, Slingshot SEO. I, along with my other co-founders @KevinBailey and @PapaSlingshot, grew from being 26-year-old guys with a ton of industry experience to seasoned entrepreneurs in the five fast years since we started the company. We learned a lot along the way from tough experiences, mentors and brilliant employees we brought on board. After being in the trenches for so long, and growing so fast, we identified two issues that needed our attention.
The first issue was that we found ourselves sometimes serving in roles where we lacked experience. We addressed this by stacking our team with all-stars who had experience in their respective fields. The second issue we found, just as many entrepreneurs do, was that we had very little time to focus on company vision. We often reminisce on the exciting start-up days where so much focus was spent planning the future of the company and tweaking the business model.
We found that in addressing the issue of inexperience, we had actually addressed our need for time to focus on the company vision as well. With the confidence that comes with having an experienced leadership team running day-to-day operations, we decided to take 90 days to focus on developing the two-year vision for our company.
The 90-day Vision Plan was outlined as follows:
The founders will not report to the office during this period unless consulting is necessary when subject matter expertise is needed. In those cases, the founder will report to the office for the meeting as a consultant and leave upon completion.
The founders will be accessible to all employees through a 'vision' email address where employees can send ideas and opinions on company vision.
The executive team will present operational statuses through departmental scorecards and reports in monthly board meetings during the 90-day period.
The founders will present the two-year company vision at the 90-day mark to the leadership team for analysis and suggestions.
A select group of members from the leadership team will then gather for a two-day offsite meeting to finalize the company vision.
The final vision will then be presented to the company and efforts will shift from vision plan to business plan, which will involve every department in the company going forward.
At this point, we are approaching the 45-day mark of our 90-day leave to focus on vision. After gaining the full trust of our leaders who are running the day-to-day operations, we have been able to put a deep focus on constructing our company vision. We have even returned, at times, to the original Slingshot SEO office where we started the company: the back of a warehouse with no windows. I have even altered my diet at home to fully get back in the mindset of 'eating beans' and working tirelessly on building an excellent company vision. It has been an incredible journey so far, and I will be sure to follow up with a summary of how this experiment turns out.
AARON ADERS: Aaron is co-founder of DigitalRelevance™, a national leader in earned media and inbound marketing services. Building on more than a decade of Internet marketing experience, Aaron steers the strategic vision behind DigitalRelevance market research and collateral. @drelevance