Are you missing all your most important meetings?

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If you’re like most of us, your workdays are inundated with meetings — whether with customers, employees, vendors, bankers or professional advisors. It might seem like the last thing you need is another meeting, but are you missing “the most important” meetings?

Most meetings take care of day-to-day business, but how often do you meet with yourself (and your business partner, if you have one) to think and plan and evaluate your company? These are the meetings that will direct your future and determine when and if you achieve your goals. They should be held no less than once a quarter but preferably once a month.

We’ve found that unless we get away from the office to hold our partner meetings, we’re invariably interrupted and derailed. We choose comfortable locations (preferably with options for food and drink), where we’re unlikely to be distracted by encountering people we know.

This could be a restaurant, conference room, or even somewhere in the mountains. The main thing is to go where we can have uninterrupted focus on our business.

Schedule your meetings in advance and give them priority on your calendar. Choose a venue where you won’t be interrupted, turn off your phone and ignore your email. Prepare by taking your last business plan, notes from previous meetings, and paper, iPad or laptop to record your thoughts and ideas.

Ponder these areas and record your thoughts and ideas:

What is or is not going well in the business? Be very realistic and specific when making this assessment. Look at areas needing improvement and formulate ideas on how to make them better. Be willing to acknowledge areas of weakness but also recognize things you do very well. And if a certain area excels, determine what attributes could be copied in other areas of the company.

What opportunities exist? There might be new products or services you could add to the company or perhaps new markets to serve. Do you have underutilized capabilities or talents in the company that could be tapped into for growth? Be creative when looking for new opportunities.

Does the business provide the lifestyle you want? This is a subjective question and depends on your values, interests and expectations. Do you realistically see your business helping you achieve your personal goals? If not, what needs to be changed?

Is your time well spent and effective? How could you be more efficient? Consider whether adding staff or redistributing job responsibilities would free more of your time (you might need to sharpen your delegation skills).

Could partnerships or strategic alliances help your business be more successful? Other companies or professionals in industries complimenting yours might find it mutually beneficial to ally with you.

These areas might be touched on during day-to-day or all-staff meetings. But it’s only when you have those crucial, concentrated times alone that you are free to formulate plans for the future and design a roadmap for how to get there. So put your “most important meeting” on your calendar today.

Laddie and Judy Blaskowski are partners in BusinessTruths Consulting, Inc. and several other businesses, and authored The Step Dynamic: A Powerful Strategy for Successfully Growing Your Business. They can be reached at Judy@BusinessTruths.com.