Can Just Changing The Way You Think Really Help Grow Your Business?

Most business owners today aren’t happy with the amount of revenue their business is generating. They’re working longer hours, applying greater effort, spending more for marketing and receiving lower revenue. So what’s going on?

What you need to know…

If you’re not happy with your business’s current results, it’s important to remember that those results are in direct proportion to the actions you’ve been taking? If you want different results, then you MUST take different actions.

So if that’s all that’s required, why don’t business owners just do that? The answer may shock you. They can’t stop repeating their past patterns of behavior. Their past patterns have become ingrained into their subconscious mind and have established themselves as habits.

Have you ever listened to art experts accurately identify a recently discovered painting as belonging to a specific artist such as Rembrandt? How can they tell who painted that picture? Patterns… that’s how. Even though the painting may look completely different than all the others that artist painted, his or her patterns, sometimes referred to as their “style,” continuously comes through with each and every painting.

Why you need to know this…

The exact same thing happens to business owners as well. All of us have been mentally conditioned to perform our daily activities in a certain way. These activities have become habits through constant and daily repetition. The problem is that the majority of these habits… more than 80% of them… are non-productive.

Imagine what would happen to your revenue if you could reduce that 80% down to 60%. Do you realize that you would DOUBLE your income? Do you know how easy it is to reduce that 80% down to 60%… or even down to 40%… which doubles revenue again? Exciting, isn’t it?

If you have past patterns of behaviour which are acting as a barrier to the growth of your business and lifestyle and you are interested in finding out how to develop new behaviours, talk to your coach. They have the skills and experience to help you make the necessary change.

And remember, to quote the famous quality guru W Edwards Deming said – “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.

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Business Growth Masterclass – Session 3

Welcome to the third installment in my blog series The Business Growth Masterclass

I’ve called this session:

How to Make Goal Setting a Fundamental Part of Your Business

Before we start, I just want to check that you’ve done the homework set in the last installment of the Business Masterclass.

  • You have a strong understanding of how the five-part formula works.
  • You understand how the formula can impact all areas of your business.
  • You have taught your staff about the five-part formula, or simply told them that you are embarking on a new marketing strategy that will involve their participation.

Great Stuff! Now it’s time to put together your road map. You need to set some goals that support the vision you created.

By now you’ve created a really clear vision of where you’re going to take your business, and what it’s going to look like when you get there. You’ve also learned a proven, step-by-step formula for making that vision a reality. You’re getting close to the end of the preparation stage, and closer to diving into Step One: Lead Generation. But first, you have to map out the route that you’re going to take to achieve your vision, and establish which landmarks will tell you that you’re going the right way. You’ve got to set some goals.

In this session we will cover:

  • What are goals and why set them?
  • How is a goal different from a vision?
  • Areas of your business that need goals
  • What happens when I achieve a goal?
  • The impact of positive thinking
  • Autosuggestion techniques and exercise
  • Visualization techniques and exercise

Goals are specific, attainable targets that bring you to your vision. They’re the milestones (or landmarks) you need to reach along the way.

Goals focus your efforts and intentions, and direct your motivation in a productive direction. Goals outline a plan of action, while dreams are conceptual visions. Your goals are the milestones you will reach along the way to achieving your vision. They break down the process into smaller pieces; the little successes en route to the big success story.

Goals are different from your vision.

It can be easy at first to confuse a business vision with a goal. They are both projections of an ideal future situation that you have created based on your dreams.

Goal

Vision
Goals are specific, measurable targets that a person or business sets out to achieve. Goals support the greater aspirations set out in the business vision statement. A vision statement is a broad, inspiring image of the future state a business aspires to reach. It describes without specifying how aspirations will be achieved, or when.

There are many areas in your business that you need to think about when setting goals or targets. Let’s create your unique list.Studies have shown that only three to five percent of people in the world have written goals – the same three to five percent who have achieved success in business and earn considerable wealth. Setting strong goals and committing them to paper is the most effective way to achieve success. Goals will focus your time, energy and the outcomes that are the highest priority at a time. When you prioritise and concentrate your efforts, you avoid being stretched too thin, and produce greater results.

You have many areas of your business, and each need to do their part to contribute to the overall vision you have for the company. Set your goals systematically. There are many areas of your business that you can set targets and goals for. This helps to break down the process into smaller, achievable chunks. Here are the areas of your business that you’ll need to think about when setting goals:

Lead Generation > In-store Leads
> Phone leads
> Return on Investment (of marketing campaigns)
> Weekly / Monthly / By Campaign Leads
Conversion Rates > Individual Staff Targets
> Staff Development
> Conversion Rates
> Sales Targets
Transaction Frequency > Sales Targets
> Customer Loyalty
> Average Transaction Frequency
Average Sale > Sales Targets
> Revenue
> Add-on Targets
> Sale increases
Margins > Product or Service Evolution
> Profit
> Cost Reduction
Personal > Personal Development
> Personal Wealth Generation

What happens when you achieve your goals, What happens next?

You should reward yourself and your team each time a target is reached. This will not only train your mind to associate hard work with reward, but will develop loyalty and morale among your employees. Once you’ve reached a target, ask yourself where the next rung of the ladder is. Can you improve upon the target you just reached? Can you stretch yourself and your team, or challenge yourself more? Get into the habit of setting a new, higher goal each time you achieve an existing goal. This will lay a solid foundation for consistent personal and professional growth and improvement.

Before you set goals, you need to reframe your thinking so you can support yourself and your efforts.

We’ve talked a bit about the power of intention, and how a strong belief in yourself and your ability to be successful is the keystone to achieving great things. This part of a greater concept, called positive self-talk, and it has a powerful impact on your reality. Positive thinking and self-talk is an important technique to practice and cultivate. When you programme a positive stream of subconscious thoughts into your mind, you can control your reality, and ultimately the outcome of your goals. When you set out to practice positive self-talk techniques like autosuggestion and visualization, you may find that you have a stream of negative thoughts that continually run through your mind. This is okay – you work is to correct each negative statement that flows through your mind. For example, each time you say to yourself, “I’ll never be able to finish this…” or “I’m a terrible public speaker…” take a moment to stop and correct the thought. Instead, say “I will do the best I can to finish this project,” or “I will get myself some training and become a better public speaker.” Positive self-talk means getting rid of the negative thoughts that run through your mind on a regular basis – some that you may not even hear!

  • That’s impossible.
  • Don’t even bother.
  • It’s already been done.
  • We tried that, and it didn’t work.
  • You’re too young.
  • You’re too old.
  • You’ll never get there.
  • You’ll never get that done.
  • You can’t do that.

Autosuggestion is a kind of positive self-talk that will improve your performance in all areas of your life, and give you a better shot at achieving the goals you set.

Autosuggestion is the technique that harnesses the power of your internal dialogue – your constant stream of thoughts and judgments and beliefs – and uses it for positive, affirmations. Often, this involves changing negative beliefs and perceptions that we learned from our parents, friends, partners and experiences. You can practice autosuggestion anywhere, and at any time. It is especially helpful to spend 10 to 15 minutes practicing autosuggestion before a stressful situation, like a meeting or sports game. All you need to do is sit quietly, breath deeply, and allow yourself to be open to the thoughts and ideas you are about to tell yourself. Then repeat positive statements about yourself and the future outcome of a goal or intention or event. Some examples of positive autosuggestions include:

  • I will close the sales presentation and secure this client!
  • I am a capable and positive person!
  • I deserve the success that I have achieved!
  • I am doing the best I can!
  • I will assert my needs in my relationship!
  • I will have all the information I need to ace my exam!

Here are some helpful tips for your autosuggestion process.

  • Believe in and feel what you are telling yourself. Linking suggestions to emotion increases their potency.
  • Talk to yourself like you would a close friend. Use a calm, considerate and gentle tone of voice. Remember that you are working to develop a good relationship with yourself.
  • Phrase your suggestions positively, and avoid negatives like “not”, “less”, “won’t”, “don’t” and “can’t.”
  • Use the progressive form of the present tense to reflect acceptance of being “in progress.” For example, say “I am becoming..” instead of “I am.” Your mind may have an easier time accepting the statement.
  • Repetition is key. Each time you repeat a suggestion, try to find a way to make it a stronger, more powerful and meaningful statement.

Visualization complements autosuggestion and harnesses the power of your mind’s eye to realise your goals.

Visualization is another mind tool that successful people use to programme their brains for success. It’s simply visualizing in your mind how something is going to happen or play out on a repeated basis. Visualization is commonly used in sports training, and has been proven to improve performance better than just practice alone. The technique can be used by anyone, however, and will generate the same results on performance and outcome. When we visualise an event or situation, or an object or possession, we attract it into our life.

Teach yourself this step-by-step visualization exercise.

Visualization should be done with a relaxed and positive attitude, as well as with an openness and willingness to accept whatever outcome may present itself.

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet space – your office, home, or in the open air.
  2. Pick a goal or intention to focus on.
  3. Relax your entire body, and take several long deep breaths.
  4. Tune into your inner voice, and connect to the feeling that you truly believe this goal or intention.
  5. Begin to visualise the achievement of that goal, or realization of your intention.
  6. Create a clear and detailed mental picture, using all five senses.
  7. Allow yourself to feel how you believe you will feel when you have achieved your goal, and how much you desire to reach that goal.
  8. Finish with a positive affirmation about the outcome of your goal or intention.
  9. Repeat this process at least once per day, for about 10 minutes.

Powerful positive people have the strength to create powerful positive change in their lives and the lives of those around them.

You are a powerful, positive person! Successful people have no secrets – they’re just determined, focused people who have set goals and programmed their brain to think positive, and think big. Spend the next few days working on your autosuggestion and visualization skills. You might feel a little silly at first, but I promise that these are powerful psychological tools that will retrain your brain for success.

As before, if there’s anything here that you’d like to discuss in more detail, I’m here to answer questions and provide support when you need it, so feel free to use the feedback form below to get in touch:

Business Growth Masterclass

Hello there, and welcome to my latest blog offering.

I was with three of my business colleagues at the weekend and we were offering our services to visitors to the exhibition. As they approached our booth, we would ask a couple of fundamental business questions.

Bear in mind that our audience, as is the case in many industries and professions these days did not have a great deal of experience in business management, save that which they had picked up for themselves in their day to day lives. Sure, most people get through, especially when the market is stable, but few of them go on to make LOTS of money, and after a few years of grind, begin to wonder what it was all about, and why they keep pushing themselves for what seems like a very mediocre reward for their efforts.

If market conditions change, and the business starts going south, many of these same business owners lack the expertise to respond, and sadly, many of them do not make it through the lean times.

The two questions we ask are “Where are you now?” and “Where do you want to get to?”

All too often the answer to these two fundamental questions is “I don’t really know”

I am reminded of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. When asked by Alice “Which road should I take?”, he replies “That all depends on where you want to get to”. Since Alice admits that she doesn’t know where she wants to go, the Cat replies “Then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”

There is a substantial amount of evidence which points to the fact that if you set goals for your business (and your life, for that matter, there is a great chance that you will achieve all you want to. A key early step in any of our coaching programmes is to establish a set of goals with our clients before going on and implementing strategies and tactics to help them in achieving their goals.

This article is designed to give you a way of thinking about your business which will mean that you can become one of the winners, instead of being one of the “also rans”.

Welcome to the Business Growth Master Class! Are you ready to dive in?

The first few articles in this programme guide you step-by-step through the process of establishing a strong foundation – or preparation – for the five-step process that follows. You need to prepare yourself, your business and your staff for the changes you are about to create and the success you are about to make yours.

You will notice that every major company in the world has a vision or mission statement – a broad, futuristic idea of what the company will achieve and look like in the future. The five-step process can help you achieve there, but you need to know where “there” is first.

I know you must be eager to jump into marketing strategies and get more people flowing through the door, or more sales ringing through the till. Be patient – this is important work that will build and contribute to your amazing success. Trust me!

In this Session we will cover:

  • What a business vision is and why it is important
  • Why your employees need a vision to follow
  • Examples of powerful vision statements
  • Your unique strengths and weaknesses
  • How to write your vision statement
  • What you need to achieve your vision

So, let’s take a look at what a vision statement is, and why it’s important for you to create one for your business.

A vision statement is a broad, inspiring image of the future state a business aspires to reach. It describes without specifying how aspirations will be achieved, or when. It is ambitious, and forward-thinking. It’s not about where the organization is now, it’s about what the organization will be, or aspires to be.

A vision statement needs to:

  • describe aspirations and intent
  • be inspirational for your staff and customers
  • project a compelling story
  • paint a clear picture
  • use engaging and descriptive language
  • be realistic
  • align with your company’s values

The vision statement will also provide a clear criteria or measuring stick for decision-making. When making tough choices, ask “Does this support the vision statement?” If major initiatives do not support the overall business vision, chances are they aren’t worth the investment of time and money.

If your business doesn’t have a vision statement, it needs one. If it does, then this is a good opportunity to strengthen it or make sure it is aligned with the current dream you have for yourself and your company.

I’m going to work through a step-by-step process that will help you hone in on what your vision is, and then put it into words.

You should note that a corporate vision statement – once created, agreed to and perfected – should remain consistent and unchanged for several years. When a vision statement is changed and revised, it is difficult to create a consistent plan that supports the achievement of the vision.

But first, don’t forget that your employees, joint ventures (companies you align yourself with – the most powerful marketing initiative on the planet is a Joint Venture) and your customers need to believe in the company’s vision too.

Your employees need a strong, clear vision statement just as much as you do. When creating a vision statement, keep this in mind. The vision will need to be something that your employees can embrace and stand behind. A powerful vision statement that your employees can get excited about will motivate, inspire and build morale on the sales floor and in the office.

Think about how you will communicate your vision to your employees once you have created it. How can you inspire them to nurture and support your vision on a daily basis, in everything they do? How can you empower and motivate them to feel ownership of the company’s future and their stake in it?

Take a look at these corporate vision statements so you can get a better understanding of what I’m talking about.

Amazon.com
Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Dell
Dell listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services they trust and value.

eBay
eBay pioneers communities built on commerce, sustained by trust, and inspired by opportunity. eBay brings together millions of people every day on a local, national and international basis through an array of websites that focus on commerce, payments and communications.

Facebook
Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.

Google
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Other Vision Statement Examples:

  • To develop a reliable wireless network that empowers people with the freedom to travel anywhere – across the hall or across the continent – and communicate effortlessly.
  • To be the country’s best quick-service restaurant chain we will provide each guest great tasting, healthful, reasonably priced fish, seafood and chicken in a fast, friendly manner on every visit.
  • To provide high quality products that combine performance with value pricing, while establishing a successful relationship with our customers and our suppliers.
  • To be a profitable provider of high quality software solutions and services that provide strategic value to our customers and create a company that can attract, recruit and retain smart and talented employees.

See what I mean? Let’s start creating your unique vision statement.

1. Start by looking at your strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of everyone who does business with you.

You’ll start with a bit of analysis on where you stand now. Use the chart as a guide, create your own on a pad of paper and fill in your company’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Think about strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of customers, staff, management, vendors or suppliers and owners.

For example, what would your customers say about your customer service standards? Would this area be considered a strength or a weakness? What would your staff say about training and professional development opportunities? What do you think about your income and overall financial growth?

Strengths Weaknesses
Customers
Customer service
Product or service availability and quality
Business location
Business image
Staff
Training
Salary
Professional development
Benefits
Quality of work environment
Management
Training
Benefits
Staff skills
Vendors / Suppliers
Product or service quality
Owner (You)
Income
Business image
Salary

2. Analyze your observations, and remember that your weaknesses represent great opportunities for change and improvement, while your strengths need to be nurtured and developed.

Take a look at what you have written, using the chart above as your guide, and answer the following questions on your pad of paper:

What does the overall picture look like?

How does the overall picture align with the dream you have for your business?

What great achievements and qualities exist in the strengths section? (List 10)

What opportunities exist in the weaknesses section? (List 10)

3. Now that you’ve assessed where your business stands today, where do you want it to be? What opportunities exist?

Here you will take the strengths and opportunities you identified in step one, the analysis you completed in step two, and start describing them in words. Use the chart below as your guide, write three sentences that describe the future state of your business. I’ve included some samples to get you started.

Vision
Customers To be a regional leader in customer service.
Staff To inspire and develop our professionals.
Management To lead a generation of environmental responsibility.
Vendors / Suppliers To offer only the highest quality sprockets.
Owners To be a profitable and highly respected organization.

3. What opportunities and aspirations are the highest priorities for you and your business?

Take the sentences you created above, and list them in order of importance to you. You may have to do this several times before you feel the order is accurate. Then, combine duplicate sentences, or ones that describe similar things.

Once you’ve finished your list, take the top three to five sentences and combine them into a cohesive paragraph.

4. Refine your statements so that they are broad, future-oriented and use words that reflect your values, priorities and dreams.

You need to refine your statement so it is smooth, clear and easy to understand. Here is a checklist to use when reviewing the words you have written:

  • is it inspirational for your staff and customers?
  • does it project a compelling image?
  • does it paint a clear picture?
  • have you used engaging and descriptive language?
  • is it realistic?
  • does it align with your company’s values?

TIP: You can use phrases like:

A leader in…
Support the development of…
Offer opportunities to…
Continually create…
Build on…
Inspire…
Develop…
Facilitate…
Achieve…
Deliver…
Bring together…

5. Include your employees in the vision creation process, and ask them for feedback.

Do they understand the vision? Do they support it? Does it inspire them? Can they find meaning in their work based on it? Incorporate their feedback, where possible and relevant.

6. Put your vision statement somewhere everyone can see it – your staff, management, customers and vendors.

Once you have created your vision statement, share it with the world. Your vision is something you have committed to, and can let everyone know where your company is heading. It allows them to see where you want to go, and gives them the opportunity to help you get there.

Now, do you have everything you need to start working towards your vision?

In the next few articles, we’re going to work through a comprehensive goal-setting process that will act as the road map for achieving your vision. You’ll also review, in depth,  the strategy that you will use to achieve your goals, and in turn, the vision you have created.

As your mentor, I’m here to answer questions and provide support when you need it, so feel free to email me at davepreston[at]ologycoaching.com (replace [at] with @ – this is spam prevention).

Congrats for tuning in,

Want to improve the performance of your team? Improve your bottom line? Why not try this?

Description: Ology Coaching

Change Behaviour – Transform Performance!

If you could improve the performance of you and your team by 10%, would you want to do it?

A simple and powerful way to improve both performance and motivation in ANY business

In this difficult economic climate everyone is looking for more from less. DiSC® offers a proven, effective but simple way to make all communications more effective. In doing so it reduces the likeliehood of misunderstanding or conflict – and as a direct result, improves motivation of the team.

Whether you are in business yourself, lead a team or are a trainer, coach or consultant your business and the performance of the people around you can be changed by adopting this powerful approach.

Benefits of Understanding Behaviour include:

  • Description: Growth with OlogyImproved communication
  • Effective introduction of change
  • More effctive team meetings
  • Better understanding of what motivates people
  • Avoid conflict and misunderstanding
  • Better sales conversations
  • Greater cooperation

    Leading to BETTER BOTTOM LINE RESULTS!

What can we learn from the Olympics?

Posted on 13 August 2012

What can we learn from the Olympics?

Over the last few weeks we’ve all been watching the world’s best athletes and sports people compete in the London Olympics. What an incredibly talented array of high performers we’ve had the privilege to watch! But what can we, as business folk, learn from what we’ve witnessed in the sports arenas?

One thing is clear – talent alone is not enough – in sport or in business. You also need an abundance of drive, determination and self-discipline.

It has been said that top flight sport is a meaningful metaphor for business, with some striking parallels.  Common features include strong competition, the smallest margins of success, setting and achieving goals and targets, committing to both long-term and short-term strategies and tactics, hard work, perseverance, determination, teamwork, dealing with success and recovering from failure and setbacks.

So what can we learn from sports people as entrepreneurs and business owners?

One difference between sport and business is the way goals are set. In sport, the goals are clear – you know what day and time the Olympic final is, for example. And everything is moving towards that one point where you will have to be at your best.

In business things are more complex and there’s usually a series of goals. So running a business requires a level of flexibility. Nevertheless, having a goal or a fixed deadline is vitally important.  As an example, in organising the Olympics all the buildings in the Park had to be finished on time, it was a given. So in business we need absolute clarity of the desired outcome.

How many times have you thought that there are a lot of busy fools in business?  In sport, busy just doesn’t cut it – unless it is activity directed at the chosen goal, then it has no place. Business is no different.  If people are hugely busy but they’ve got no real clarity of their desired outcomes, the chances of delivering the right results are slim. The number one driver for sports people is performance; businesses need to have that same performance culture if they are to be successful.

What about the role that coaches play?

First of all, there are NO successful athletes or teams who don’t have a coach!  A coach provides independent insight, helps create fresh perspectives and can often see the barriers to progress that the sports person is simply too close to see.  Coaches allow the athletes to get the very best out of themselves and to reach their full potential, whilst at the same time letting them take ownership of what they are doing.

Why should business be any different?

The best sports people are never satisfied – they are always striving for the next improvement.  They are right to do so – their competitors have a powerful motivation to beat them and you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be working hard to do just that!

Business is no different – you are only as successful as your last set of results, so don’t get complacent!

Success in sports and business alike relies on the ability to continually move performance to higher levels. This year’s best performance won’t be good enough next year or the year after!

A lot of your success will be down to having a tough mindset.

Like top athletes, the best business people are not born but made.  OK, there has to be some natural aptitude, but the real key to sustained excellence – in sport and in business – is to develop resilient mental toughness.  If you can stay focused on those things that really matter when faced with myriad distractions, if you can bounce back from setbacks with a determination and a renewed appetite for success, and throughout you can believe in yourself when the going gets tough, then you stand a chance of success!

Remember the famous Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think that you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’ll be right!

Next point – all work and no play makes for a rather dull existence, so DO celebrate success!

Copy the sports people – take time to celebrate your victories.  Remind yourself what your hard work and dedication is all about.  I would suggest that things have never been tougher for most businesses – many of us are focused on survival as a key priority – but don’t let that stop you celebrating your successes, however small they are.

We all experience nerves and stress when we are doing important and maybe less familiar things, whether it is in business, sport or in our personal lives.  Maybe our culture tells us that this is a bad thing, that we should not feel this way.  Don’t believe it – it is both normal and often helpful.  The heightened awareness created by a little nervousness (as opposed to a level of complacency) helps us to focus our best efforts into getting the best result that we can.  Anyone watching the Men’s 200m Final would have seen that Usain Bolt was visibly nervous before his successful Olympic title defence – it was in actual fact a key element of his performance on the night.

One of the world’s greatest golfers, Tiger Woods, said you can’t expect to feel the same on the golf course as you do when watching television.  Woods gave himself permission to feel nerves on the first tee – and it doesn’t seem to have hindered his performance!  So harness your emotions, rather than wasting energy and attention in fighting them.

That’s all very well, but to get to the very top requires something else on top of the things already mentioned.

That something else is Mindset – self-belief and the mindset of the winner.  It is the thing that keeps you trying over and over again.  One of the outstanding road cyclists of this year has been Bradley Wiggins – after winning the Tour de France, he went on to Olympic Gold – both by convincing margins.  Wiggins set his stall out to get his fitness to a level that could achieve this – not just strength and stamina, but the mental toughness to endure the hardships of harsh training and even harsher competition.  And he did it.

No easy route here – his success was down to the tens of thousands of hours put in practicing, training and improving.  Maybe that approach is too hard for you in your business – maybe you are looking for that “quick fix” – the silver bullet?  It doesn’t exist.

As has often been said – “good enough never is” – so why settle for second best?  Do you have the level of discipline that successful sports people have in abundance – that of never being happy with your performance?

Accepting second rate performance is a huge risk in business.  In sport, when a person does badly, their performance is reviewed, analysed and they work out how to improve (usually with the help of their coach). Sadly, in business average performance is often tolerated. The choice is yours – you can either carry on accepting mediocrity or do something about it.

It’s not easy, though, is it? In today’s difficult market conditions, it’s easy very easy to think that things can’t be changed.  We end up acting as victims and accepting our lot.  Well, it’s not good enough – you only have to look around and see that even in this difficult recession, there are companies who are forging ahead.  One final sporting analogy – the best tennis players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray deliver the core skills their basics exceptionally well under extreme pressure.

How do they do that?  They filter out those things that are unimportant to achieving success – and under pressure, they focus solely on the task.  That’s what we need to do in our businesses – don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the things truly necessary to succeed.

If you’re interested in applying the Olympic standard to your

Why do some businesses thrive during the depth of a recession?

The Bad News and the Good News

The bad news: we are living through the worst economic times since the Thirties Depression. And maybe there is still worse to come. If we were part of the Euro-zone (and here, I’m referring to the European currency), we may very well have been in the same boat as Greece, Spain, Ireland an Portugal.  Don’t believe what you hear on the BBC and read in the Newspapers;  most of the people in these organisations have vested interests in talking up the markets. That is, if they know what they’re talking about. Remember that Japan suffered deflation throughout the Nineties. What has to unwind in the coming years is the enormous debt that America and Britain have accumulated.

So the good times are over for the minute. What does this all mean for your business?

The good news: not every business is going to go bust, the smarter businesses will not only survive but actually prosper at the expense of their competitors. These smarter businesses will invest now and continuously to improve their competitive edge.

So what is competitive edge?

Low cost alone seldom gives you the competitive edge but Ryanair is an exception, although you might raise an eyebrow and ask about their reputation for charging even for basic on-board amenities. Quality at a reasonable price usually counts for more, as in Marks & Spencer, and Apple has established its competitive edge for innovation and the user-friendliness of its products. Indeed when you get to Apple’s stage, the brand alone speaks for your competitive edge. Notice that your product or service doesn’t have to be the best available in the market provided your customers’ experience of your business is quality. Quality means reliability and responsiveness to your customers’ needs.

So to my definition of competitive edge: the perception that a business delivers something different and/or of better quality to its customers. This difference refers to the uniqueness or innovation of your product or service; better quality refers to the quality of your customers’ experience of your business.

Setting aside uniqueness and innovation, how do you develop a competitive edge through giving your customers a quality experience?

When you get down to it, quality is simply about people and process – people design the process and people deliver the process. Improving your people means increasing their skills and knowledge and improving how they get on and communicate internally and externally. This leads to the development of high performance teams and individuals who are responsive to your customers while maximising their contribution to profits. Developing efficient processes in your business translates to responding to your customers efficiently and accurately which means better bottom line performance for your business.

Remember: if you do nothing new your business will likely end up doing nothing different or worse. Invest in improving your competitive edge and you have every chance of seeing a rich dividend on your investment in these testing times.

If you want to be one of those businesses who will thrive during the depths of recession, e-mail me for further information.

Ever wondered why is it that some people are better at achieving their goals than others

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specificWhen you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers. To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills. Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals. To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken. If you want change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely. It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.

If you want to be one of those who succeed in achieving your goals consistently, e-mail me for further information.