This simple plan can help you work smarter, not harder, to get the results you want.
It has been said that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. Over the years, an overriding message in the world of business has been that “hard work reaps success!” But the truth is that hard work doesn’t always equate to “smart” work. In other words, you may be working harder than ever, but if you’re working on the wrong things you might simply be spinning your wheels. Without a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish, no amount of work will get you where you want to go.
How many times have you reacted to the success of a colleague or friend and thought: “Oh, he is so lucky!” or “It was plain luck that got her where she is today”? Well, luck may have played a small role in that person’s success, but you can rest assured that there was also a lot of hard work, planning and action in the mix.
Positive action plays a key role in moving a business forward. But it isn’t uncommon to hit a brick wall and stall midpoint, which is why you need an action plan to stay grounded. To help you succeed and stay focused, I have put together a plan that will assist you in putting your ideas into motion and watching your business grow! I call this plan ACTION, which stands for
What do you aspire to be? Much like a road map, you have to be very clear on what it is that you’d like to achieve.
Try this exercise: Pretend you’re taking a creative writing class and have been asked to write down your dreams and aspirations. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? Place no creative limits on yourself; just write down everything you think of while performing this exercise. This will give you a window to view what it is you really want, who you want to be and where you’d like to go.
This is your first step toward putting together a mission and vision statement, which every business owner should have readily available. The value of putting together a mission and vision statement is that it allows you to describe just what it is that you want in a more quantifiable manner. This exercise can also help in creating your business plan.
I often see people spreading out in a hundred different areas (known as the “shotgun” approach) to realize their goals. The reality is, you have to be clear on what you want so the steps you take to reach your goals are consistent with your business plan.
If your efforts are all over the board, your efforts become inconsistent, which just creates confusion. By creating a plan, you can more easily take the steps you need to reach your goals. All the action you put forth needs to mesh with your vision and mission and must remain consistent with what you ultimately want to achieve. For example, if you want to open an upscale training facility, you’ll need to know exactly how to attract and retain this kind of niche clientele. If your marketing is geared toward less affluent consumers, your plan is inconsistent with your offerings, and you will likely fail in your efforts.
In the same way that we urge our clients to remain consistent in their exercise routines, as business professionals we need to be consistent and stay focused in order to be successful.
As you proceed, you may find elements of your business plan that don’t necessarily work. The good news is that trial and error are a great way to learn from our mistakes and come up with modifications that better suit your situation.
Allow yourself time to experiment and find what works and what doesn’t. Discard the things that needlessly usurp your time, and learn to carve out some constructive time to devise new actions that will move your business forward.
How will you know what to retain and what to toss out? Continuously refer to your mission and business plan to determine what fits with your ultimate goals. Again, you may need to tweak here and there, but as long as you’re working toward your goal, you will stay on the right track.
To stay on track, you have to maintain laser-like focus and be impervious to distraction. Allowing too many outside factors to distract you will prevent you from being productive and focusing on the things that will contribute to business success. More than once I have intended to complete a project and while researching the project, I find myself distracted by irrelevant information. In times like these, I try to remember to remain impervious and stay focused on the bull’s eye!
Needless to say, you also need to be open to new ideas and input from others who may have the kind of expertise you need to be successful. There are two schools of thought when it comes to accepting input from others. One school of thought is that too many cooks spoil the soup. The other is that you can accept and learn from criticism if it helps separate smart work from unnecessary work. Personally, I think you need a healthy dose of input to allow you to view choices more objectively. However, if you’re seeking advice, it’s important to get it from like-minded people and those who understand and appreciate your vision.
You’ll need to decide which approach works best for you. Remember, this is your business, and you have to decide what works best for you and helps you operate more efficiently.
One of the most defeating traits someone can possess is a negative attitude. Most of the successful people I know got there because they believed they could. They always believed that what they wanted and what they could achieve were one and the same thing.
Just because you adopt a positive manner does not mean you are unmindful of the potential pitfalls within your business plan. Rather, a positive attitude simply means having a smart attitude. Keep in mind that attitude is the one thing that can buoy you or can drown you in your efforts to succeed. Deciding which route to take is entirely up to you.
In my 15-plus years as a business owner, I have found that the most successful entrepreneurs are those who follow the ACTION strategy. They stay focused on what they want, remain consistent in their strategy, apply lessons learned during trial and error, and continue to move forward. They are impervious to irrelevant distractions, while keeping an open mind about others’ ideas. Above all, their positive attitude gets them where they want to go because they never for a moment doubt they can get there.
In the end, it’s about working smart and believing in the impossible. Only then can you take your business to places you never dreamed possible. It’s up to you. Will you wait for a lucky star to rise, or will you take ACTION today?