“It’s the New Year, so I’m going to get into the best shape of my life,” say so many as they rush to the new health club and peddle or push or pump with gusto on unfamiliar apparatus. They wake up in such pain in so many places the next morning, wondering if the mad urge that overtook them the other day has truly passed or whether they will muster the will to return to the gym.
The desire to get into shape is a good one with truly great benefits on physical, emotional, and social levels. In the short term, exercising burns calories far better than clicking a mouse or tapping a keyboard. When you’re at the gym, you connect with new people and have a chance to see friends and colleagues in a different context that deepens your relationships. However, sensible people like you and I can agree that you can no more reverse the effects of years of bad habits in a single workout than you can take seven showers on Sunday and be set for the week.
There’s no quick fix for physical fitness, but you do have access to a large set of decisions you can make make to create a stronger business in astonishingly short time. Want the Twitter-length version? Want it, decide it, do it. Here’s some more context: Think of making business improvements as a three step process: first you have to want the benefit or advantage, so you have to have a clear understanding of the link between the action you’ll undertake and the beneficial thing that will occur in your business as a consequence. Next you have to decide to devote resources to achieve it, because every change has a price, no matter how small. The trick here is to pick the changes that have a big and immediate payback for the time and effort required. Finally, you must take action to accomplish it, whether that means communicating that to a team member or an outside vendor, or making the change yourself.
If you take just an hour to do the five steps below today, you’ll not only experience the benefits in your business in the weeks and months to come, but you’ll wake up feeling pleased with your accomplishment without the soreness or regret tomorrow.
Your Steps to Success
Let’s look at four relatively painless ways to build a stronger business that can all be done within an hour. We’ll focus on the area of business delays, since that has immediate impact.
- Clear the decks and cancel subscriptions that haven’t been read. If you haven’t read a magazine or you have a stack of unread business journals that you hoped to get to “some day” then make this the day and toss the whole stack (into a recycling bin, please). Then, cancel the subscription to prevent the recurrence of the pile up. You’re not a library and the stack is evidence that the material is not a priority, so jettison the load. If you ever need access to the story or article, you can most likely find it online.
- Next, review your inbox with the same rigor. See all those unread announcements, articles, updates, and other guilt-inducing distractions and drains on your time? These are easier to recycle. Just click the “unsubscribe” link and then trash them. If you’re waiting for the “just don’t trash this ezine” joke, I won’t be making it. It’s my intention to have a vast readership who look forward to the tips and tools I share and I don’t mind at all if some decide that this isn’t a good fit for their interests or needs right now. It actually improves my business numbers to have a higher caliber of readers. My clients and students tell me how empowering it is to think like publishers, too.
- Decide on who were your top favorite clients in the past year and who were your least favorite clients. Find ways to refer your least favorite clients to others who would be a better fit so you can devote more of your attention and time on serving your best clients and customers. The 2×2 grid I use in this process allows me to plot points on a fun vs. profitable axis. Naturally, I want to attract and cultivate relationships with people who bring me interesting challenges to solve and who value the expertise and skill I bring to each situation. I want this for all business leaders, and especially the ones like you who invite me into their companies and organizations and/or join my programs.
- Evaluate which business networking groups were worthwhile and which were not. Networking is an important way to make new connections with prospective clients, customers, partners, and team members directly, so it should be planned and reviewed carefully. Take out your calendar and flip through the pages. Mark those events as “A” where you met the people you wanted to meet, “B” where you know there is the potential to meet those you wish, and “C” where you won’t return for one reason or another. Share this info with your team and ask them to do the same so you can compare notes. One person’s B might be another person’s A, so you can learn a lot from sharing this process.
The key takeaway from these four steps is of course to lose the business “wait” so you can move faster and more effectively in the weeks and months ahead. Fortunately, this information diet is easier to apply and delivers dividends rapidly.