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TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Do You Have Time for Success?

Just a few short weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take part in one of the most inspiring events in the home improvement industry, The Young Retailer of the Year Awards.

For 18 years, NRHA and its sponsors have been honoring retailers under the age of 35 who have distinguished themselves as being among the industry’s best and brightest.

Learning about how these kids (yeah, I said it) have carved out careers, built businesses and affected their communities is truly humbling. 

But as I was drinking my coffee and watching this year’s litany of young leaders tell their stories, I was struck by something that was common among all of them. 

Two days later, as I hosted the annual Top Gun Awards, where Hardware Retailing magazine honors some of the industry’s best-in-class retailers (sometimes jokingly referred to as the Old Retailer of the Year Awards), I noticed this group shared the same trait as the younger bunch.

No, it’s not a government “success” microchip implanted in the backs of their heads (though I am suspicious about this too). It’s the fact that no matter how much they have to handle in their day-to-day business lives, they always carved out time for strategic thinking.

Then it dawned on me that this is quite often the key to any kind of success in business—the ability to balance the banality of daily operations with the time required to strategize. It doesn’t matter if you are a plumber or a home improvement retailer, if you are going to truly distinguish yourself and move your operation forward, you absolutely HAVE TO think strategically.

So, with this, I’d ask each and every one of you the same question I asked myself… What percentage of each day, week or month do you dedicate to strategically thinking about your business?

Believe me, I know how easy it is to be overtaken by the circumstances of each day. When the phone rings, someone wants to meet with you, an order doesn’t get delivered or a customer is coming unhinged at the service counter, you have to deal with the issue at hand. But you simply cannot use these as excuses to skip strategic thinking.

Every one of the Top Guns we featured or the Young Retailers on that stage face the same kind of daily challenges you and I do. Yet, they all found time to strategically plan.

We are at the halfway point of 2014, so there is still plenty of time left in this year to evaluate, chart or correct the course your business is taking. In order to do this, however, you have to make the time. If necessary, literally block out an hour (or even a half hour) each day on your calendar for “strategic thinking.” 

If you can’t seem to find the time to keep this appointment with yourself each day, perhaps you need to address how committed you are to the long-term success of your business. If that’s the case, I just met a bunch of retailers who might be looking to expand to your neck of the woods.

About Dan Tratensek

In his position as publisher of Hardware Retailing magazine, Dan has the opportunity to visit with independent retailers of all types and sizes and use these visits to shape the editorial direction of the magazine to meet the needs of the independent hardware retail market. Dan also oversees NRHA’s other publishing projects, which include a range of special interest publications, contract publishing titles, online content and more. Dan formerly worked as an editor and reporter for Hardware Retailing and has been involved in business journalism and news reporting for the past two decades

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