It doesn’t make a lot of sense does it? It’s downright dangerous. Sure, you can see where you have been and you may be able to “keep it between the lines”. But, it only works long-term if the road is straight and you are the only vehicle on the road. It is important to check your rear view mirror to watch for traffic and emergency vehicles coming up behind you, but you don’t want to focus on it too long.
The business owner that is looking forward is able to see down the road and adjust to the road conditions and other drivers on the road. It is important for business owners and managers to monitor their financial statements on a regular basis. This the business’s rear view mirror. It is a view the road that has already passed. The “traffic” they are looking for are problems in cash flow, profit versus loss, and effective asset use. Again, it is important to look back, but the danger comes when the business owner becomes too focused on the financials and fails to look ahead.
Looking forward to business means paying attention to the traffic around you – you competitors. What is driving (selling)? Watching traffic also means watching the industry. What new products or services are out there that you can capitalize on? What new technology can enhance our performance? How can you learn this? Subscribe to industry magazines and organizations. Research it.
Looking forward also means looking for obstacles and dangers. Look for the warning signs. This means paying attention to what is happening in government. With each congressional and legislative sessions of the federal and state government come new regulations and policies. Some of them are good for you and some them can harm you if you fail to be informed about them and adjust. Such mistakes can be costly.
Business owners need to look back while looking forward, just like driving down the highway. What’s ahead of them is just as important as what’s behind them.
“Business Tips” was written by James Leavelle, Business Development Specialist and Senior Certified Business Advisor of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at James.Leavelle@angelo.edu.