&bull; Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group<br />&bull; Blog: <a href="http://www.drewsmarketingminute.com">www.drewsmarketingminute.com</a><br />&bull; Email: <a href="mailto:Drew@MclellanMarketing.com">Drew@MclellanMarketing.com</a><br />&copy; 2012 Drew McLellan
• Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group
• Blog: www.drewsmarketingminute.com
• Email: Drew@MclellanMarketing.com
© 2012 Drew McLellan

I fly quite a bit and I am always fascinated to watch the flight crew as they ready for takeoff. Sure, there’s a lot of “hi there” and “welcome aboards,” but there’s also plenty of serious work being done. The pilots have quite an extensive pre-flight checklist they need to get through before pushing back.

The co-pilot does the walk-around, looking at the tire pressures and condition, checking the status of the oxygen bottles for the cockpit, inspecting the wear on the brakes to see if they’re within tolerances, examining the engine fan blades for any nicks and the entire airplane for fuel, oil or hydraulic leaks.

Both pilots test their oxygen masks, and the co-pilot will look over the other emergency equipment and inspect all the electrical circuit breakers to be sure they’re in place.

They understand that the success of their flight depends on them making the time to do those assessments before they buckle in for the flight.

How about you? We’ve got about two more solid weeks of 2012 left before the holidays distract our staff and our customers for the final two weeks of the year. And then, it’s takeoff time for 2013. Have you done the proper assessments to make sure your takeoff is smooth?

Here are some questions to ask yourself and your leadership team as you wrap up 2012.

Leadership: How did YOU do in 2012? Were you a visible and accessible leader? Did you inspire your team? Did you set a good example of how your company’s brand behaves? What did you personally contribute to meeting or exceeding the 2012 objectives?

Management: Do you have the right leaders in place? Are they able to move their teams towards achieving the company’s goals? Are all of your managers being mentored well? Could any of them step into your day-to-day role, if needed? If you had to get rid of one of them, who would you choose and why? Is that someone who should stay on your team or have you neglected your responsibility and do they need to go?

Staff: Do you have the right people on the bus? Jack Welch is credited with the mandate of firing the lowest-performing 10 percent of staff every year. While that seems a bit extreme, most business leaders are guilty of keeping bad employees for too long. Are you guilty of that?

Systems: You can have the best pilots in the fleet, but if there aren’t systems to help them get the job done, you still have trouble. Where is your business the most inefficient? What systems do you need but don’t have? This is an area of weakness for all businesses but especially small- and medium-sized businesses. A sure sign that you’re suffering from this: if you all do things a little differently and most of your company’s process documentation exists only in the staff’s collective memory.

Financials: Do you have two or three dashboards you can look at and quickly assess the financial health of your company, for that month, that quarter and that given year?

Marketing/Sales: What worked? What marketing initiatives generated real leads? What efforts got you new insights into your customers and what they genuinely need? What pages on your website got the most traffic? What do your Google Analytics tell you about how people are finding you?

Once you’ve really looked at 2012 and decided what worked and what didn’t – then and only then, is it time to start planning out 2013. Which you’d better jump on – it’s right around the corner!