Well the 8th working day until Christmas came and went – this is Friday’s blog, posted slightly late, I hope you all enjoyed that 8th last working day before Christmas as much as I did – Friday at OptimalHQ was really fun, first we held the first OptimalBI team meeting where everyone was using the same technology and headsets affording our remote and office based workers the same meeting experience; then we had photos taken for our 2013 Christmas card (it will be hilarious); and finally secret santa which was a hoot – I received a riding crop, or commonly known as a whip, can’t think why someone thought I needed one of those?

Another thing the end of the calendar year brings is an opportunity for you as a business owner, or you as an individual person, to have a serious conversation with yourself. Odd as it may seem it is so easy for all of us to not ask ourselves the hard questions, brush them to the back of our minds and ignore little warning signs. If you don’t own your business the conversation might be about your career and whether you are still meeting your own goals and aspirations; you might have a personal relationship you need to assess the value of; or you might have a habit or addiction to seriously talk to yourself about addressing.

For me the serious conversation is about our businesses, our roles within those businesses and whether we are meeting our goals both as a company and my own personal goals within that context – the latter come back to Shane’s and my core values as business partners and our need to work somewhere we enjoy, with great people, be having some fun and that we continue to be inspired.

The serious conversation we business owners all need to have with ourselves should include these 3 key questions:

1. What could our competitors do right now to undermine our business? where are our weaknesses? what is our blind-spot?  These are challenging questions to answer, we spend so much time looking at our our competition are doing we don’t tend to consider what they could be doing to us.

2. What value am I adding to the business in my current role? am I making the boat go faster? or do I add a level of bureaucracy and slow things down? am I the best person for my job? These are really hard questions to ask yourself and ones most business owners won’t even consider but what if you are constraining growth, or innovation or not empowering one of your team to step up?

3. What could go wrong? we had a series of earthquakes in NZ this year which has had me thinking a great deal about scenarios where external events could introduce operational risk. What else could go wrong? are there key people whose departure would have a massive impact? or specific customers who could do the same?

Hard, negative and risk centric questions which are easy to ignore – so lets all ask them once a year, pick a date and mark it in our diaries as the serious conversation day. You may have other difficult questions to ask yourself or core values to measure against. These 3 alone should assist with hardening up and maturing your capability, lead into succession planning and might even help with a few otherwise sleepless nights by exposing and mitigating the risks. Hope you give it a go. Vic