By Marc Beauchamp
Well, it's that time again: we are about to close out another year and receive a blank slate providing the opportunity to begin again. I can't say I've ever experienced a year like this one. Have you? Who would have thought a virus could bring the world to its knees like this one did?
As I dealt with this crisis in my own business and communicated with others in the industry, I was struck by contrasting ways in which various ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) handled this challenge. Some adapted quickly and prospered; others were paralyzed with fear or stuck trying to decide how to respond. Many MLSs watched as their seemingly low-risk brick-and-mortar businesses shut their doors while ecommerce merchants hit record volumes.
As the year progressed, I was amazed at how resilient and creative we are as an industry and the ability for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to adapt to this new and fluctuating environment. No doubt a seismic shift had occurred in how consumers shop and in the ways businesses function. We will see what the future holds once the vaccines take effect and people start to return to normal routines.
What I'd like to do now is delve into how your year went and what you're going to do to improve your results in 2021.
It's often said that the past holds the key to the future. I believe it's valuable to take an unbiased look back to determine whether your strategy and tactics need to be fine-tuned. What may have worked before may not work in the future. Remember, there is no such thing as failure, but there are results. If you've experienced a result you want to avoid in the future, this is the time to recognize that change needs to happen.
I know it's a challenge to make time for strategic thinking, but I promise if you set aside just a few hours, your return on investment will be considerable. Don't shortchange yourself or your company. Commit the time to review the past year and create a vision of what your new year is going to look like.
Start with the following probing questions about the past year:
Now that you have the creative juices flowing, ask yourself the following questions about what you want to accomplish in 2021.
Stephen Covey got it right when he said, "Start with the end in mind." When you have clarity, you can then communicate it effectively to your entire organization and enroll others in that vision.
It's like fishing: to catch a fish, you have to cast your line into the water, so the fish is attracted to the bait. Vision casting works best when you cast your vision in a way that inspires, motivates and encourages your employees. In other words, you need them to catch your vision and really believe in it as much as you do.
Start now. Create a draft of your business vision. Clearly define what your business will be like one year, three years and five years from today. Commit to living and breathing your business vision. Read your business vision during sales meetings and staff meetings. Post your vision statement for all to see.
Even solo agents must be able to provide leadership and vision to those they interact with regularly. The key to realizing your business vision is leadership. If you're in a larger organization, leadership not only requires the desire to learn and ability to self-manage, but also the capacity to move the team toward a clear purpose.
In practice, leadership is a verb, not a noun. Leadership is action, not a title. Leadership is defined by what we do, not the role we are assigned. Remember what John Quincy Adams said: "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." True leaders positively influence the opinions and actions of employees in their organization.
I'll be hosting a free 2021 Goal Setting workshop this month, so get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can attend. Cast your business vision that creates a burning desire for your team to see it to completion, and you will have the best year yet.
Marc Beauchamp is author of Survive and Thrive in the Merchant Services Industry and founder of Bankcard Life, a community for payments professionals. He is offering a free copy of his book to all payments professionals at www.bankcardlife.com/greensheet. Marc welcomes your comments and feedback at email@example.com.
The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.
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