Posts Tagged ‘systems’
The Key To Getting More Done? Do Much Less. Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
I speak with a lot of business owners; some are seeing success while others are struggling for whatever reason. Even the successful businesses have obstacles though. In fact, nearly ALL business owners I speak with face a common obstacle. It may be slowing them down or even completely holding them back.
That obstacle is the constant effort to do too many things at once.
Businesses face a lot of challenges and include many functions that must run simultaneously such as sales and marketing, finance, payroll, fulfillment and production, etc. Because of this, it is only natural that business owners decide to work on them all simultaneously as well. Each function has its own issues to work on and improve. This, of course, pulls the business owner in every direction and last time I checked, there is only one of me (if there is more than one of you, please share your secret).
Now I’m not simply talking about multi-tasking (which is a bad idea even though my wife claims otherwise). I’m talking about the direction you are going with all those tasks. What are working toward? Highly productive people have this same problem believe it or not. It is a matter of focus. Not just daily focus, not even weekly focus.
We’re talking about singular focus that lasts at least 2 weeks and as long as 90 days (maybe a year if you’re a later stage company with slower growth). Within that time frame, you will eat, breath, and sleep that single focus. Maybe your focus is to increase the average number of sales by 50%. Well my friend, that is ALL you care about for the next 90 days! Do you still do the other stuff? Well, of course.
You can’t sell if you aren’t fulfilling, making payroll, or any of the other critical functions. The difference is you will simply maintain them at their current level and nothing more. It is okay to keep these other functions within your peripheral so they do not fall apart but beyond that, you know nothing of them. It is all about the single focus of increasing sales. You talk about it constantly, theme parties around it, reward against it, and dream about it when you don’t want to.
How long do I have to do this?
So how do you know which time frame (2 weeks to 90 days) you should choose? Well, that depends on a few factors such as your industry and growth rate. If you are approaching the speed of light, your time frames will be closer to 2 weeks as too much is changing too rapidly.
If you stay too long on one focus, it may slide back in importance long before you are done and leave you with big fires to put out. Certain industries such as software development often do what may be called agile development which is often based on 2 week deployment cycles in order to ensure no one falls into complacency and to ensure no one’s brain melts from overexposure to the same computer code. For most businesses, the 90 day line is perfect (1 quarter of the year).
Every 90 days, you take another look at things and determine a new focus. It is good to switch it up because computer programmers are not the only ones running the risk of melted brain. Teams and people become callous toward the focus after too long and begin to ignore it. We all do it (just think of routines and goals you stopped tracking after a bit).
Are you even capable of laser-like focus for 90 days? probably not… at least not without some level of accountability. You will need someone to discuss progress with, someone that will ask about how the focus is going on a regular basis (at least twice per month). This can be an advisor, a board member, or may even become part of someone’s job description (it is still recommended to have some outside perspective as well).
I’m good at balancing work needs… and lying.
Oh, you like to do a lot of things do you? Well, there will be plenty to do in order to achieve your focus and you won’t be bouncing around, almost getting somewhere, always complaining that nothing works. Almost marketing never sees results.
Almost solving a problem leaves you without an answer… still. Unless you are a chameleon with those crazy eyes, you can’t focus on two things at once but we all continue to cram many more than that into our minds. Stop it! Those other things can be your focus next time, but this time they are not. You can capture them in your productivity system, a journal, or whatever to be visited later but now, they can wait.
Progress must be visible
In order to maintain this brutal level of focus, you must be able to see progress, movement, something! If you can’t visualize your standing within the area of focus, it is almost guaranteed you will get lost. You will think you are still focusing but upon comparison to your original plans, you are out in left field… in another stadium! Have numbers you can track that can be prominently displayed and regularly reviewed. How close are you to your 50% increase in sales? Have a way to see it.
Congratulations, you are alive… break time
After the 90 day period of focus is over, celebrate. Break routines and enjoy yourself a bit. At least have 2 cokes at lunch instead of one… something! You must reward yourself and your team for their dedication and focus. If you jump right into the next cycle, it will feel like never ending torture. If you reached your goal, really celebrate, if not, than just celebrate but don’t really celebrate. Instead of buying a small tropical island next to Richard Branson’s, just have a beach day a few miles down the road. Have some fun, you earned it.
Ready, set, go… again!
Now that the celebration is over, get back to work!! Take some time to find your new focus and… wait for it… focus! Forget the world around you, including those other, albeit necessary, business functions and focus.
This process of only looking at one thing for a period or quarter will lead to some phenomenal successes and allow you to sleep a little easier, or at least less confused as you will only be dreaming of one thing. You will see surprising clarity in other areas of your business, not just the focus area. It is just cleaning off the desk (which I literally need to do as I write…) so you can get to the brass tacks of what will bring success to your biz. First things first, set some time to figure out your focus for the next quarter and give it a try.
The Second Question You Should Ask In Beginning Your Experience Process Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Depending on the product or service that your business offers, the time that it takes to close a sale can vary. You have to have a process that take clients through your experience in a way that is intuitive and easy to follow. The second question in your process sets the tone for the rest of your process.
The second question to ask in your experience process is what’s the first step that your clients must take to engage in your offering. The first question? The first question is, where do you ultimately want your clients to go?
There are a couple of mistakes that businesses make with regards to getting an audience engaged in their offering from the start.
The first problem is that if their product or service is new or changing the rules of what’s been done before, it may not be easily understood right off the bat. The key is getting people to understand your business in as simple a way possible.
Problem number two is having a tendency to jump the gun with our potential clients. If we have a client even look at our business we turn into Night at the Roxbury and we are all up on them before they have a chance to breath. Slow down a little bit. Let the relationship develop.
The best solution for getting your audience engaged in your loop is to create an entry product that people must consume before they do anything else. The step must be easy to take and must engage your audience to take further action. This is the way that you present the second question of taking the first step.
Take problem number one mentioned above. We work with a financial advocacy firm called The Freedom FastTrack. Their message is counterintuitive to the traditional financial planning model of investing in a 401k. Here’s a video they created to help people understand the vision of their business. They illustrate the problem that their audience is facing and demonstrate how they can help.
Your initial product can be free like the video above or it can be a lower priced item. If you are looking to reduce friction, I would suggest a free product to get people engaged and make sure the product is good. Free does not equal mediocre.
Your initial product can answer the second question in your experience process in a number of different formats. DVDs, Audios, an e-mail campaign or a membership. You can offer hard copies of your product or keep it all in digital format.
Hopefully you have been thinking about what product or service can serve as the gateway to further sales in your business. Take some time and jot down some ideas right now. Figure out where you want to take your audience and then determine the best way to answer the second question in your client experience process.