As a small business leader, have you heard any good news lately? I have.

It is a special gift to be a SCORE mentor and to support such talented small business owners and entrepreneurs just starting up. In just one-week last month, one client told us their company is going to beat this year’s targets and 2022 is going to be a dynamite year for growth in sales and profits. Client two is on target for hitting or beating targets for year number three of their five-year strategic plan and have exciting plans for the next two years. I also met with two entrepreneurs that are going to expand their businesses in the second half of this year and 2021 will be a lot better.

Do I believe them? Yes, I do, even in such a confusing and challenging business environment we are experiencing. I also believe them because they reflect the characteristics of leadership of the successful growth companies for whom I have worked. They also track with so many of the success stories reported by fellow SCORE mentors.

Let me share what I believe makes them successful.

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They are leaders that have put a strong footprint on the operations of the business. There is passion and total commitment to create their dream. They know where they want to take the company. Their vision, the special benefits they are bringing to the market and the values that will guide how they will operate are set and shared.

One of the companies above has the strategic plan in the employee handbook and is part of bringing new hires into the company. All four leaders above know they are not a finished product as a business leader and take steps to get more skilled. Building a great team is a top priority. As difficult as it is, they make tough decisions when employee changes are necessary.

Two of the businesses above have a strategic plan that is regularly reviewed and updated. The plans cover the next three to five years. The plans were developed by department heads plus staff that the management felt had much to offer to the process. There are defined key result areas (goals).

These goals are assigned to and accepted by the appropriate person. Funding is set, as is time for completion and how the results will be measured. The strategic plan is summarized into one sheet and posted in the lunchroom. Financial data and confidential information is kept private. The owner frequently refers to the plan in meetings. The two startup businesses above are developing a written strategic plan.

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Two of the companies I met with have reliable financial statements for the past three years or so. This history of financial management and growth trends lends credence to the continued success and growth of these businesses. The leaders have demonstrated that they can sustain growth in both revenue and profit. Cash is king and is closely monitored. The startups above are cash flowing and will grow their business without much outside financing.

These are challenging times, but challenging times are normal. That said, in my judgment, our current business climate is one of the more challenging. I so appreciate the courage, commitment and contribution of these four leaders and so many others that we as SCORE mentors see throughout our beautiful country. It is truly a joy to meet these people and to help however we can.

As a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE which offers free business mentoring and education notes the organization has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964. The nonprofit SCORE was previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

Contact SCORE at Score.org, richard.jordan@scorevolunteer.org or 218-251-4413. We are here to help.