Nobody wants his business to stand still; everybody wants to make progress. The best way to make that happen is to create a vision, make a plan, and then lead.

It's already February, but you still have the power to determine how the rest of the year will go. Are you hoping to stumble onto business success, or are you actively going to do something about it this year?

HIGHER THINKING I recently came across a great quote by Thomas Edison that I think accurately sums up the challenge ahead: “To get to the next level in your life will require a higher level of thinking than the level of thinking that got you where you are.”

This is true in business as well.

Success in the remodeling industry is not a given. Although it's important to celebrate how far you have come in your business, don't just stop there. Doing more of what you do right now is not likely to have as great an impact on your business as finding new and better ways of doing it. Simply stated, expecting different results — better results — demands having a different approach.

And that requires having a vision.

I know what you're thinking: Words like vision and plan are for people with free time — which you don't have. If you did, you would use it to be with your family for a life outside of work. But until you can find time to take the long view and think strategically about your business, you will forever be locked in a business with limited potential.

To grow to the next level, you must either master the skills required to broaden existing results or you must seek out someone who has already done so.

LEADING CHANGE In order for your business to grow it must have a leader who can grow. But if you're stuck in the day-to-day cycle of your business, your ability to take it to the next level is compromised. As everything around you moves forward, you almost certainly will begin to fall behind.

That applies to your position relative to your employees as well. To remain the leader yourself, and to help your employees become leaders, it's important that you stay ahead of this evolution.

As I worked to grow my business, I was challenged by the need to provide leadership. After trying many approaches, I found that the best way for me to grow and change was to find another leader, a mentor, to help me.

My mentor had already gone through the challenges that I was facing. It was helpful to hear about the options he had tried, what worked, and what didn't. He was very good at asking me questions that forced me to think about my vision for the business. This helped me anticipate challenges so that I could either avoid them or, with his help, create plans to address them. All the while, I was learning how to be proactive rather than reactive. My mentor helped me see that even though it wasn't apparent at times, I was always making progress in subtle ways. And, ultimately, I realized my vision sooner.

What is your vision of what the next level means for your business? How will you get there? Can you do it on your own or do you need a mentor to help you along? Thanks to my mentor's help, encouragement, and example, I learned what it takes to be a mentor. And now I find satisfaction in helping others create and realize visions for their businesses.

Shawn McCadden recently sold his Arlington, Mass.–based employee-managed design/build remodeling business. In his second career, he is Director of Business Innovations for DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide. Contact him at