When you are out on the road, do you focus more on your windshield or on your rearview mirror? How about when you are driving your business forward?

Most owners spend a majority of their focus duplicating past successes. This is logical, given investments made, lessons learned and instincts to reduce risk. After all, owners have years if not decades of real – world experience and scars to prove it. If nothing were to change, running a business based on historical experience would make all the sense in the world. But so much is changing in the 21st Century business environment. The workforce, Internet and customer behavior are three good examples

Look at your business over the last five years. How much has stayed the same? How much is changed? If more has changed than stayed the same, should your focus be more on the future than on the past? Here are three ways you can tell your rear-view mirrors are too big:

  • Your sales forecasts consist of adding up what your customers have bought and what you expect your prospects to buy from you. Your projections don’t include or accommodate changes in either customer behavior or your development of new products or value-added benefits to your service line.
  • Your investments in information technology are made to tell you more about how your costs are derived and your manufacturing efficiencies are realized.
  • Your hard assets on your balance sheet are evaluated more in terms of their contribution to your balance sheet than they are to add more value to your product line.

Simply abandoning these time-tested measures would be irresponsible. But recognizing their limitations is essential.

Throughout the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, business “dashboards” were all the rage. These “at-a-glance” tools were touted as the way to quickly see if one’s business was on track. The trouble is that few businesses are on the same track going forward. Too much has changed.

One of the greatest inventions in the last 10 years has been the GPS. Mounted on most every car’s dashboard, this device helps drivers to pinpoint their destination, determine the best route to get there and provides real-time information on potential obstacles along the route and alternatives to avoid these.

Imagine having a GPS for your business. What would you need it to tell you?

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