I’ll never forget one of the stories that author and speaker Dr. John Maxwell shared from the stage. After one of his talks a young man approached him and said, “Dr. Maxwell, I want to do what you do.” Dr. Maxwell laughed as he asked, “Well, what exactly do you think I do?” The man said, “You get on stage in front of thousands of people and inspire them.” With a big grin on his face, Dr. Maxwell responded, “So you want to do what I do, huh? That’s great. Now, do you want to do everything I’ve done in order to get to do what I do?”
Wow! It’s been more than 10 years since I heard that story, but I can still remember the goosebumps I felt after Dr. Maxwell’s powerful statement.
As business owners, no, as humans, we want things done right now. We crave getting results immediately. Oh, and don’t forget to eliminate the hard work and struggle along the way. We want things quick and easy.
This is the reason we jump on Pinterest and Instagram before asking if we should be playing in that space. It’s why we abandon the work we need to do and instead get on Periscope because our colleagues told us it’s the next big thing. And it’s why we blame our audience for not paying attention to us instead of figuring out how we can communicate more effectively.
Shiny new tools pop up every day, and somewhere along the way we started to believe they were the answer to all of our business challenges.
Each new app promises to make our lives better and easier — and we believe them. While many of these tools are awesome and can help us grow, the challenge typically lies in the lack of strategy followed by execution.
What’s your strategy?
It’s only when you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish — such as increasing sales by 10 percent, acquiring 1,000 new email subscribers in 30 days, etc. — that you can create the right strategy. From there, you can select the best tools and tactics to help you achieve that outcome.
Coming up with the right strategy includes:
1. Define your goals.
What are you trying to achieve? Identify one to three goals for your business and make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).
2. Identify your resources.
What apps or technology are you currently using? Who is on your team? What is your budget? Once you know exactly what you are trying to accomplish, you can then decide what additional resources you will need in order to be more efficient.
3. Establish accountability.
Identify what needs to happen to ensure everyone on the team (even if it’s just you) is holding each other accountable and not losing site of the overall goals. Create deadlines and know who needs to complete what and by when.
Do the work
Once you identify your strategy, commit to doing the work. And that means getting your hands dirty. It means sticking with the content calendar you’ve created, making the important phone call, and writing that email campaign. It means asking current clients for referrals instead of seeing what your friends are up to on Facebook or downloading the latest podcast.
It’s easy to sit around with colleagues sharing stories about why you should be the girl on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine — but have you done the kind of work she did to get there?
I’m not saying we don’t all work hard. But I am saying most of us could probably work a little smarter. So let’s decide to do the work. No magic bullet. No easy button.
Once you have the strategy, come up with the tactics. What are those daily, weekly and monthly action items you must complete to reach your goals?
1. Create a spreadsheet.
When I was focused on my sales goal, I knew how many presentations I needed to give every week in order to meet my numbers by the end of the month. And the only way for me to book those presentations was to finish a variety of activities every day.
I created this spreadsheet to help me stay on track with each activity:
2. Create a content calendar.
If generating leads and getting new business online is part of your marketing plan, developing an effective content calendar is critical. Plan out what articles you are going to write and post, what content you are going to create (memes, infographics, pictures with quotes, etc.), and what days/times you’ll share everything. Using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer is helpful because you can schedule everything in advance.
3. Write a to-do list.
Whether you take advantage of one of the many to-do list apps or you kick it old school and use pen and paper, creating lists with the top priority items first will help you stay focused throughout the day. Plus, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when crossing off items on your list will help you stay focused on getting work done instead of wasting time on other tasks.
Reap the benefits
Creating the right plan takes time. But once you have it, you’ll be less stressed, get more done and see better results. An effective strategy coupled with the right tactics and eliminating distractions is a formula to help you grow your business.
What about you? Are you committed to executing the work you know is necessary in order to grow your business? How do you stay on track and make sure you’re doing the right activities every day in order to get the results you want? Comment below and let us know!