Success Strategies: Building foundation for success

By John Ellsworth

“Finally, you create a list of the steps you would take if you were faced with a similar situation again. In essence, what steps could you take to lead you to a more successful, satisfying outcome?”

In my November article, I talked about establishing a solid foundation by developing a positive attitude. We have all been tested by industry events of 2009. However, as I stated previously, these are the times when people are looking for positive leadership, whether in your business, your community or your family. Please indulge me and take a moment to review my “Top 10” steps that are listed again in the sidebar below.

Top 10 Steps

1.) Setting Annual Goals – Management Guru Peter Drucker who said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

2.) Development of a Disaster Agenda – What are the three worst items that could occur in 2010 and what would your response be?

3.) Regular Management Team Meetings – What are the crucial areas for your focused attention?

4.) Regular Finance Team Meetings – What items, such as capital expenditures, budgets, and financing needs, do we need to focus on in 2010?

5.) Cash Flow Comparisons – These comparisons are the quickest method to catch costs that are getting out of line vs. your plan.

6.) CPA Prepared Financial Statements – These are an excellent tool for the financial management of your dairy operation and help your lender to really understand your business.

7.) Bank Meetings 2X per year – In order for your banker to be involved as part of your overall Team, he or she needs to understand what your business’ strengths are and what items are areas for future improvement.

8.) Milk Marketing Plan – Understanding your break-even price level and knowing how to position your business to achieve that price is essential to your financial future.

9.) Nutritionists –This is beneficial from a nutrition perspective and can also keep you up to date on what feeds are doing in terms of price and availability.

10.) Quarterly Inventories – These are essential for your accountant, your banker and your overall feed management.

New Year Plans

As we make plans for the new year, I believe these “Top 10” steps will take you a long way in the advancement of your business. However, one challenge that I’ve noticed some clients of mine have been having is what I refer to as “Future Concern.”

To be specific, I find them worrying about the possibility that a year like 2009 could happen again. The fact of the matter is that it could, indeed, happen again. However, rather than spending a lot of time worrying about that possibility, perhaps we should shift our focus over to how we could handle it differently going forward.

‘Experience Transformer’

Dan Sullivan, president and co-founder of The Strategic Coach organization, has developed a process he calls “The Experience Transformer.”

In this process, which I have used successfully with my clients and in my own business, you start by writing out the details of what actually has occurred. In other words, you describe what happened. After this, you shift to what outcome would have been better, as well as what you can learn from this experience.

Next, you tally up what items worked for you and what did not. If you could relive this experience, knowing what you know now, what would you plan to do differently?

Seeking better outcome

Finally, you create a list of the steps you would take if you were faced with a similar situation again. In essence, what steps could you take to lead you to a more successful, satisfying outcome? After you develop this list, try to make it a regular part of your ongoing management process.

As a result, you will likely find that you stay on track and hit your business objectives more often.

In particular, this becomes more likely just because you have developed an improved process, centered on your desired outcome. Give it a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!


John Ellsworth of Modesto, Calif., is a consultant with the financial and strategic consulting firm Success Strategies. He can be reached at 209-988-8960, or by e-mail: