6. Remove obstacles
I always wanted to be a professional basketball player, but when my growth stopped at 5'11" in the eighth grade, my dreams were crushed! So, the next best thing was to look at my companies like basketball teams.
Imagine you're the owner of an NBA basketball team. You know you can't play the game. You have players to play the game, and these players need to focus on the game. It's difficult for them to play the game if the team bus is always breaking down, if bad press is destroying morale, or if the doctor you have on staff is too busy running his private practice to be around. All these things are preventing the players from focusing on the game.
Your job is to make sure any obstacles that are in the way, any large boulders blocking progress, are removed and disposed of, or at least pushed to the side of the road. You could let your team do that, but then who would be playing the game?
7. Provide resources
It's your job to make sure your company and its people have all the resources needed to be successful. Resources can be categorized into four major categories: financial, human, physical and intangible.
According to Dun & Bradstreet and the Small Business Administration, approximately 75 percent of businesses will not make it through their first three years, and the No. 2 reason is the lack of funding, i.e., cash. So, if you are lacking in financial resources, then go seek capital.
Human labor is your largest cost and your largest asset, so give employees everything necessary to be successful and let them play the game as you hired them to. To me, this means the proper training, leadership, incentives and culture. For example, leadership is one of the best ways (and free) to empower your people. It's amazing what a simple "thank you" or five minutes of listening to an employee's concerns can do to boost morale and production.
It's funny to see a company spend millions on talent, only to be stingy on a second monitor or refuse to spend a few thousand dollars on proper décor. How you value your employees will be clearly on display. An easy place to start that I personally blundered on was not buying a coffee maker for the office. Seriously. It took one of our sales people bringing one in on her own dime for me to consider all the little things that make such a big difference.
Intangibles are resources many of us don't even realize exist. The market and operational knowhow that you and every employee at the company have is critical to tap into. The life experiences and contacts people hold are powerful.
For example, did you know your newest accounting clerk's brother in-law works at a major potential client? But it doesn't stop there. What about your intellectual property? Can that be licensed or repositioned in different markets? What about your reputation in the industry as a thought leader?
Don't lose sight of the fact that you provide the court, the ball and the players. They fill the stadium, they play the game, and they are the only ones who can win the game.
You may have a CFO that does your forecasting and modeling, but it's your job as CEO to determine where money gets allocated. Does your cash go to more development? Sales? Marketing? Incentives? How are you going to balance the need for new software tools versus a human resources program within your budget? Whatever it may be, you decide. A poker player friend once told me, "Think of your chips like ammo. Don't give them away foolishly."
If you're not able to focus on budgeting because you're acting as Controller/CFO, or if you're using your CPA, I would highly suggest hiring a part-time CFO. They are typically understanding of where your company is financially. There are many great companies out there. In particular, we've used B2BCFO with great results.
Where you allocate money tells everyone in your company what you value and what you don't value. Your strategic decisions should be made in alignment with your cash resources. You determine where money goes, which determines what gets done, and that decides the fate of your company.
It's important to note that this list evolves every year for me. So, every year always take into account where your company is, what your resources are, where you're going, what your objectives are, and who you are at that moment in life.
This story originally appeared on KISSmetrics