It’s very easy to get caught up in our day to day…
Current projects. Current deadlines. Current responsibilities. Current fires that must be doused. Current needs that have to be fulfilled.
This creates reactivity. A reactive life. A reactive business.
We’re completely controlled by our family, our clients, our customers, the market, the economy, the weather, whatever.
We give our life over to outside forces, and let them control us.
That’s never the intent. And each small area where we give over control is easy to justify. But the more you let these outside forces control you, the further they will carry you from your goals and objectives.
A personal story.
Our oldest son has started playing cello. He actually started last year, in 1st grade. They don’t have it in the school for his age, but he goes to a private teacher for weekly lessons. And along with those weekly lessons, we do daily practice at home.
Well, he’s been doing it for a while. The initial excitement has mostly worn off. And he’s in that part of the learning process where he’s accomplishing a ton — but it all feels HARD and is only mildly rewarding, because he still doesn’t play really well yet.
He started dreading practice. And admittedly, I was being a bit tough on him. I was trying to help him correct all the little mistakes, all the time.
This had built up. So that when practice time came, suddenly the negativity in the air would go through the roof.
He’d fight me on practice. He wanted to give up. When told he’d have to start another instrument, he complained that he wasn’t getting enough time with family (he also chooses to play multiple recreational sports, so I get that he feels this way).
And when I grew frustrated with these complaints, he’d coincidentally do something like trip and hurt himself, to get sympathy that way.
For a while, I got very caught up in this. His complaints, I thought, were for the most part legitimate. It is hard. We do expect a lot from him. And it does take a lot of time (especially when every cello practice is doubled in time by the complaints that precede it).
Then, I had a realization. I was letting his complaints control me, as much as he was letting our insistence on learning a musical instrument control his emotions. I was being reactive to his complaints, and it was hurting both of us.
It was up to me to break the cycle.
I had to take control and set the expectation for where we were going, if I wanted the result to be what I wanted it to be.
And so I told him. I told him that his complaints were perfectly legitimate. That I wasn’t frustrated that he was complaining, or based on what he was complaining about. And so I told him that I would be more than happy to listen to his complaining for as long as he needed, AFTER the cello lessons were done.
I took control back.
I created a plan for what we were going to do, and got buy-in. His buy-in was reluctant at first, but we’ve gotten back on track. Not only that, we were able to look at the long-term benefits of practicing cello, and discuss how each day’s practice contributed to something that would bring him enjoyment and pleasure in the long run. I also adjusted how I gave feedback, so each lesson would feel better.
(Oh yeah — and all the complaints that were so urgent to address BEFORE practice evaporated AFTER practice was done, when the choice was between complaint and going to play or read.)
What does this have to do with doubling your business? Good question!
When we get caught up in the little things in our business… When we are controlled by outside forces… It’s easy to get derailed from where we intended to go in the first place.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel so harmful. A great business idea and model, even executed haphazardly, can do pretty well. Even if you find yourself caught up in putting out fires and responding to today’s urgent requests, you may find yourself consistently growing and doing okay.
While the financial aspect of that may be rewarding, oftentimes they are offset by the stress of a business that feels out of control.
Was my son making progress in playing the cello? Absolutely! But as long as practice time was dominated by all the unpleasant feelings, neither he nor I were feeling good about it. It was only in getting back on the same page and re-setting our sights on the longer-term goal that practice became enjoyable again. And frankly, his playing has improved faster now that he’s focused on the longer-term goals again!
The same thing happens in your business.
When you’ve gotten off-track from your longer term goals, growth and opportunities slow down. You struggle more even to keep afloat in the day-to-day. And your business stops going in the direction you want it to go.
The key then is to consciously and intentionally step back… Decide again where you want your business to go… Consider all the details that will be true when you get there… And then work backwards from there to put all the details in place.
Here’s a specific process for getting your business on track, going exactly where you want it to go, and creating a growth explosion!
Let me start with this. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting your business started, or have been in business for decades. It doesn’t matter if your business is just you, or has 1,000 employees. And it doesn’t matter what product or service you offer, or what market you serve… (Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you apply this to your business or your personal life — it’s a pretty dang universal process!)
The process starts with a thought exercise…
Fast-forward three years into the future. Look at your business. It’s gone in exactly the direction you want it to go. You’ve gotten exactly the results you were hoping for. Revenue has more than doubled. Profits have more than doubled. Stress is down. Business is good. Every day is closer to your “perfect day” than ever before.
From this perspective, three years into the future, what’s true about your business now that wasn’t true three years ago? What does your business look like? What has changed? What have you started doing? What have you stopped doing? What risks did you embrace? And what risks did you avoid?
It’s very important as you work through this to really take on the future perspective. Imagine vividly what things are like, from this future perspective. Close your eyes if you need to. Really take your time. And write a lot of notes.
Your goal is to be as clear as possible about what it is you’re doing in your business three years from now. And how that is all contributing to your results.
Now, get more granular…
As you look at your business, three years from today, what do all the parts of your business look like? What systems and processes and structures do you already have in place that overcame many of the challenges of growth?
What does your marketing and selling look like? What customer acquisition systems have you built? What funnels do you have in place? How are you communicating with your current and past customers to encourage more business? What are you doing to continually refine your marketing and selling process, getting more customers to spend more, more often?
What about your product and service development? How are you creating a better experience for your customers, more consistently? What have you done to provide a unique advantage to your clients and customers that no other company in your space can match? What are you doing to be more innovative in providing more value? How are you going above and beyond to fill your clients’ and customers’ needs?
What about your team? Who have you surrounded yourself in this time that has accelerated your success and achievement of your business goals? How do you attract and retain the best people? What does your environment and team interaction look like, that makes it work so well?
What about technology? How have you leveraged technology to do what you do in a better, more efficient, scalable fashion? What tools do you have in place that contribute to your success in all other areas?
What about finances? What does your cash flow look like? What can you expect to show up every month, consistently, like clockwork — and what do you have to go out and make every month? What about costs? How have you managed costs and created financial efficiencies without hampering growth? What investments are you making in your business future?
What other important areas of your business have contributed to your success over these last three years? In as much detail and granularity as possible, how exactly have they made all the difference?
Once you have clarity on what your business looks like three years from now, it’s time to walk backwards…
First, this is something you need to be intentional about, and get buy-in on.
If you already have a team, make them involved in the previous process — they will come up with ideas and suggestions you could never have imagined on your own.
Then, look at each individual area. There’s likely a big gap between where you are now, and what your ideal business looks like three years from now.
Walk backwards. What can be made true this year that will keep you on track for having that ideal business three years from now? What of that can you do this quarter? What about this month? This week? Today?
As you go, you’ll take more and more elements from the future vision of your ideal business, and make them true about your current business.
This will solve challenges. It will get you past milestones. It will make your goals real.
Then, regularly take stock. Have we met our daily and weekly goals? What have we done this month toward the realization of our future ideal? Are we on track this quarter?
On a quarterly basis, it’s worth checking this three year vision. Are you on track? Do you want to adjust the vision to something greater?
Do the same thing on an annual basis, but push that vision out another year — so it always remains three years into the future.
You can always check back. Though you may have a new three-year vision at the start of 2020, you can always look at what you imagined at the beginning of 2017, and see how much of it you made real.
Stick with this process, and doubling your sales and profits (as well as reaching your other ideal business goals) becomes a matter of execution, not chance.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,