Business Growth Masterclass – Session 5

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

I’ve called this session:

How to Optimise Your Office for Success

But first, as usual, lets recap the homework set in the last installment of the Business Growth Masterclass.:

  • You have written down at least 18 SMART goals for yourself – nine personal goals, and nine business goals.
  • You’ve posted your goals in a visible location for yourself and your staff.

You’ve done that? Brilliant. Now lets get on with this month’s Masterclass

When you organise your work environment, you optimise your surroundings for productivity and increase your ability to work effectively.

The steps in this Masterclass will help you streamline your office, get rid of clutter and maximise your workspace for productivity. Chances are, the actions you take today to organise your office will also save you considerable amounts of money.

A disorganised office costs more to run. Supplies, tools and equipment go missing because nothing is organised or put away properly. Those things have to be replaced to get the job done, and twice as much money has been spent in the end. Plus, you spend valuable time searching for missing items, files or paperwork.

In fact, some studies have revealed that the average senior business leader spends nearly four weeks each year navigating through messy or cluttered desks, looking for lost information. Does that sound like productive time to you?

In this E-Class we will cover:

  • The psychological impacts of a clean and organised workspace
  • The financial benefits of an organised workspace
  • How to audit your work environment
  • How to implement small changes in your office that will increase productivity
  • Making sure that your office is equipped with productivity tools

If I haven’t convinced you yet, read these benefits of taking the time to create an organised and well-structured office.

> Better communication. An organised office environment encourages better internal communication. With a central area for staff communication, it is easier to share sales news, track targets, and plan and monitor projects.

> A manageable budget. Organised spaces will allow you to quickly see what you have, what you need, and when you might need more. This supports the creation and sustaining of budgets, especially for supplies and equipment.

> Increased work ethic and morale. When you and your staff take care of your surroundings, it makes the workplace a more pleasant place. Taking care shows that you value your work and the people who work for you.

> Better time management. Simply put, you spend less time looking for things and more time actually working. An organised office will complement and support your time management strategies.

So, get started by walking through this step-by-step workplace audit, and making necessary improvements as you go.

Complete the following steps by literally walking around your office with a notepad and making observations. This is intended to be a positive exercise, so try not to get overwhelmed. Small changes are the best changes to start with.

If your office is already pretty organised, complete the audit anyway and identify any opportunities that exist to improve you and your team’s work environment.

Start with your own office.

Since this is where you’re likely to need to be the most productive, it make sense to start making some changes here. Make some observations about your office as it is now, using the following questions.

  • What can be found on your desk?
  • Where are your current files located?
  • Where are your old or inactive files?
  • How many personal items are visible?
  • What is on the walls?
  • Where are your office supplies?
  • How much paper is on your desk?
  • How many files, binders or books are on your desk?
  • Where is your in tray and out tray located, and how much is piled in them?

Based on your notes and the suggestions and guidelines below, identify opportunities for improvement. Would your office benefit from a better layout? A better filing system? A smaller desktop monitor? A paper shredder?

Clear your desk of everything but your computer, your filofax (that’s if you still use one!), your current files, your inbox and your telephone. Depending on the size of your desk, you may wish to put your current files or inbox on top of a filing cabinet within arm’s reach to maximise desk space. Anything you don’t need on a regular basis should be stored out of arm’s reach.

Choose one central system for managing your notes, tasks, to-do lists, brainstorming and scheduling. If you have a filofax, use it. If you prefer electronic systems, use those. Having too many binders and notepads and calendars gets confusing.

Make a habit of tidying your desk at the beginning and end of each day. Keep loose papers pinned to your to-do list, or have clear and organised folders. Use drawer organisers to keep your stationery drawer clean and easily accessible.

Organise your loose paper, inbox and action items in a file sorter or stack of paper trays. Use categories like to-do, to review, waiting response, on-hold and to file.

Put your phone on the left if you’re right handed, and on the right if you’re left handed, so you have the appropriate hand free to take notes when you’re on a call. Keep a notepad or post-its by the phone to record messages and conversation notes.

Personal items can be distracting when they’re in your primary line of vision, and encourage daydreaming. Photos and memorabilia have a place in your office, but relocate any items that are in direct sight.

Move on to the common areas of your business.

This is a list of the areas that you may find in your business. If your business has other areas, add them to the list. Most businesses will have the top five areas listed.

  • Office supplies storage*
  • Team communication center*
  • Point of sale or reception area*
  • Printing and photocopying*
  • Staff room or kitchen*
  • Employee and management offices
  • Equipment storage
  • Product stock storage
  • Hallways
  • Shipping and receiving area
  • Financial paperwork and accounting

Move through each of the areas and answer the following questions, as applicable.

  • What is the distance between your office and areas you frequently use, like the printer or photocopier?
  • How much loose paper is found around the business?
  • What is hung up on the walls?
  • Where is the central communication point?
  • How is the team communication center organised? Is it up to date?
  • How much old stock are you storing?
  • How are your office supplies organised?
  • Are boxes and shelves labeled?
  • Do your staff members have organization systems for their own desks?
  • How many files are used on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Where are old or outdated files kept?

Again, based on your notes and the suggestions and guidelines below, identify opportunities for improvement.

Put doors on shelving so cluttered spaces are not visible. Label boxes, containers and shelves so everyone knows what goes where.

Create a consistent filing system. Provide enough shelving and filing cabinets to store files in a systemised fashion. Ensure your system keeps files out of the way and out of sight when not in use, but maintains easy accessibility.

Return or sell unused stock and overflow office supplies, like stationery. Locate other unused items that you can potentially sell or donate to create more space. Consider renting out unused portions of your office to independent consultants or small businesses.

Ensure each staff member has access to the organizational materials they need to keep their offices neat. Provide stacking trays or file sorters, and suggest systems that may help them. Remember that you can’t control their work environment, but you can provide the support they need to stay organised.

Minimise the distance between your office and the areas you frequently use (like the printer or photocopier). Locate your office so you have a clear line of sight between you and the most productive area of your business.

Finally, make sure your business has the tools you need to run an effective, cohesive operation.

  • team communication center for all team members to review on a daily basis for important information about sales achievements, targets and company news.
  • whiteboard in the team communication center or the boardroom to use for brainstorming, diagramming, project planning, marketing planning or any other strategic use. This is an excellent tool for both internal and external meetings.
  • sales board in your team communication center (a private location from clients) that is customised to your business. Use thin black tape to create columns and rows to chart sales on a weekly or monthly basis, or to compare based on weekly, quarterly or yearly targets.
  • 12-month marketing planner to keep your eyes focused on the big picture. This is where you schedule campaigns and plan promotions. Use dry-erase marker so you can make changes easily, and use color-coding for easy visibility.

At the end of your audit, you’ll likely end up with a lot of paper you don’t know what to do with, but can’t throw away. Use these effective strategies for managing paper, filing and other information commonly used by everyone in your organization.

System

Steps

Create a filing system and colour code it Group vendor files (accounts payable) and assign a color
Group client files (accounts receivable) and assign a color
Group project or product files and assign a color
Sort each filing category by date or alphabetically by name Sort vendor or supplier files by name
Sort client files by client number or name
Sort project files by project number or name
Keep tax-related documents together File all receipts, donations and other tax related information in the same filing cabinet
Make copies of documents you need to file in more than one place
Create a binder of master lists for regularly accessed information Office passwords
Financial accounts
Goals
Birthdays
Vendor contact information
Use a bound notebook Keep track of phone calls and messages
Put the date on each page
Eliminate loose notepaper
Create a business card management system Throw away old business cards
Organise cards by last name or company name in a binder or rolodex
Enter the information in a data management program, then throw away the cards
Get rid of magazines and other reading material Throw away industry magazines and newspapers
Keep relevant articles of interest
Sort them into files, if necessary

A clean and organised office is easy to sustain once it is in place.Once you make some initial improvements and set up systems to manage your data and organise your supplies, the hard part is over.

Remember to be patient with yourself. Depending on the state of your work environment, this may be a project that takes a little while. Take your time, and follow the steps in this Masterclass, and you’ll get the job done.

Next time we’re going to hone in on time management skills with Business Growth Masterclass 6. Looking forward to it!

For more information on the office organising process described above, or to discuss any other aspect of your business growth strategy, use the following form to get in touch:

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Business Growth Masterclass – Session 4

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

I’ve called this session:

How to Create, Manage and Achieve Your Goals

But first, lets just have a recap of the homework set in the last installment of the Business Growth Masterclass.

  • You understand the importance of committing goals to paper.
  • You have identified the areas of your business where you need to set goals.
  • You practice using autosuggestion and visualization regularly – or at least before important meetings, presentations and sales calls.

Well done. Now lets move on and dive into this months installment of the Business Growth Masterclass.

I didn’t plan this when I started publishing the Business Growth Masterclass, but it’s seems very timely that, at the time of year when everyone is making New Years Resolutions and setting out what they would like to achieve/have or be in 2013, that this installment of the Business Masterclass deals with the crucial subject of goal setting. It is a documented fact that people who set goals and write them down, and use them as a basic and fundamental part of the way they do things, tend to achieve much greater things than those people who don’t.

Also, there’s no point in setting goals unless they’re SMART, because SMART goals have the highest probability of being achieved.

In this session you’re going to take some time to set a series of personal and business goals that will act as milestones as you work towards achieving your business vision.

Many people set goals, but not everyone reaches their goals. Too often, goals are too vague, or too broad. “I’m going to be a millionaire,” “I’m going to be the best parent ever,” or “My business is going to make much more money this year.” They’re big, bold abstract statements that are great for dreaming and visioning, but don’t stand a chance of being achieved in a meaningful or tangible way.

Today, you’re going to work through a step-by-step process for setting goals that you WILL achieve. How? You’re going to learn how to set SMART goals, and get some tools to help you stay on track.

In this E-Class we will cover:

  • The SMART goal setting principle
  • Examples of SMART goals
  • When to review and revise goals
  • A step-by-step goal setting process

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound goals.

SPECIFIC goals that describe details and articulate aims are easier to achieve than vague or broad statements.

Ambiguous or incomplete goals will only assist you in achieving ambiguous or incomplete results. Your goals need to be as detailed as possible so that you will achieve the specific results you are looking for.

A specific goal can be easily understood by anyone who reads it; your intention and desired results are clearly detailed and described, and the actions you will take to achieve it have been planned.

Ambiguous

Specific

I should lose weight. I will lose 10 pounds in the next two months (that’s 2.5lbs per week) by eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising three times a week.
I will work harder this year. I will increase my sales figures by 20% in the next six months by scripting and practicing my closing strategies.

MEASURABLE goals are the only kind of goals that you can actually achieve.

Your goals need to be measurable so you can assess your progress, manage your progress, and know when you have achieved your desired outcome. You can use standard measurements like time, numbers, money and distance.

When goals are measurable, they can be broken down and easily managed in smaller pieces. You can create an action plan and plot the steps towards achieving the goal. You can track your progress and revise your action plan if you need to.

Non-Measureable

Measureable

I will make more money this year. I will increase my profits by 15% this year by increasing my prices (and value I offer) by 5% each 6 months and selling my audio interviews on ebay.
I will start running this spring. I will learn to run a half marathon this spring by joining a running training group.

ACHIEVABLE goals have a better chance of being realized because they are grounded in feasibility.

You need to set goals that challenge and stretch you, but you also need to avoid setting goals that are far beyond the reach of your circumstances and skill level. It’s great to think big, and dream big, but too many people set goals that are simply beyond their capabilities and wind up disappointed. Goals that are not achievable will only demotivate and disempower you.

On the flip side, setting goals that are too easy to achieve will not help you grow as a person and as a professional. You need to strike the right balance between challenge and reality.

Unrealistic

Achieveable

I will climb Mount Everest this year. I will begin a one year training programme today, and climb to base camp in 9 months from now.
I will earn a million pounds. A million pounds is £2,739.73 per day, and £9,230.77 per week. I will earn 1 million pounds in the next 365 days starting today.

This is the part where you look at the reasoning behind your goal. It’s great to set goals in all areas of your life, but for the most part your goals will collectively achieve a common vision. The goal’s action plan can be reasonably integrated into your life, with a realistic amount of effort.REALISTIC – or relevant – goals make sense and can be integrated into your life and overall business strategy

Goals that are not realistic or relevant don’t appear to have a logical place in your life or overall business strategy, and can serve to derail you. You want to make sure that all of your efforts are working in a single, focused direction or you may run the risk of going in too many directions, spinning your wheels and never achieving your vision.

Irrelevant

Realistic

I will become a better Monopoly player, and win 25% more games. I will spend more time with my family this year by staying at home one night each weekend.
I will become a NASA astronaut. I will start my own on-line business, to compliment my existing business and add another stream, of income, by my birthday.

“To plan it, is to dream it… to schedule it, is to make it REAL. Attach a written timeline!”TIME-BOUND goals give you a frame of reference and keep you motivated.

Karl Bryan, CEO, Author, International Speaker

Just like any task without a deadline is easy to push off your desk or down your to-do list, a goal without a timeframe will never be achieved. Goals that are not attached to a timeframe are merely dreams or lose intentions.

You need to make sure that the timeframe you set for your goal is realistic and achievable – not too short or too long – and reflects any elements or factors beyond your control that may influence the timing of the outcome. This will keep you motivated and focused, and allow you to check in on and track your progress.

Loose

Time Bound

I will join a gym and start an exercise program. I will join a gym by the end of this month and start a regular weekly exercise program.
I will start a new marketing program. I will invest £750 on an online product by the end of this month, and start selling it online by my birthday this year.

Once you’ve come up with some goals for your personal and professional life, work through our test to see if they are SMART goals.The SMART Goal Test

When you’re creating your goal statements, put them through the following test:

Specific

How detailed is this goal?
Can it be more detailed?
Can I be more specific with what I wish to accomplish?

Measurable

Can I measure my results over time, distance, money or quantity?
How will I measure the results?
How often will I measure the results?

Achievable

Is it possible for me to reach this outcome?
Do I have what I need to reach this outcome?
Will I be able to achieve this goal in the short-term or long-term?

Relevant

Is this goal consistent with my values and overall vision for my life?
Is this goal a priority for me to focus on right now?
Is this a primary or secondary goal?

Time Bound

Have I set a time frame for this goal?
Is it a reasonable time frame?
Is it a manageable time frame?

Here are some examples of SMART goals compared to other goals.

Other Goal

SMART Goal

I want to write a book.

I will write a book on internet marketing that is at least 150 pages long, and have the first draft completed by January 23rd. I’ll commit to writing at least three pages each day (I understand that wealth creation is created before 9am and after 5pm – during the day I earn a living) until I finish.

I want to be really wealthy.

I will double my income to £200,000 within 18 months by starting an internet marketing business.

I want to become a millionaire in four months.

I will become a millionaire within three years by starting my own small business marketing company and positioning myself as an expert public speaker with engagements worldwide. I will supplement that income by creating a source of passive income.

I am going to do my taxes.

I am going to finish my taxes by Friday, and I’ll achieve this by spending two hours on them each night until then

Goals, like everything in business, have the potential to grow, change and evolve based on circumstances beyond our control. Depending on the length of the goal – daily, weekly, monthly or yearly – you’ll want to set up a schedule for reviewing and potentially revising your goals.You need to review and revise your goals on a regular basis so they have room to grown and change with you.

Build this review period into your goal setting process – schedule times to review your goals and take stock of your progress. Here’s a guideline:

Goal Timeframe

Frequency of Review

One Week

Daily

Two Weeks

Weekly

One Month

Weekly

Three Months

Monthly

Six Months

Monthly

One Year

Quarterly

Five Years

Yearly

10 Years

Yearly

Now it’s time to working through the goal setting process and create a few SMART goals of your own.

(Note: If you prefer, I can let you have a series of pre-set spreadsheets to help you with this. Use the form at the end of this post to claim your own personalised spreadsheets).

Have a go at working through the following steps to creating 18 SMART personal and business goals.

TIP: This is a great exercise to have your employees and management work through.

1. Establish Your Personal Values
Since you’ve already worked through a business visioning process, use the same process to work through a personal visioning process. When you’ve completed this, combine your business and personal visions and set your goals in one place.

2. Take a Personal Inventory
Using the information you discovered in the previous Personal Values exercise, carry out a Personal Inventory to think big about your future and your success. What are you dreams for yourself and for your business?

3. Set SMART Goals
Using the SMART principle described in this blog, plus the personal and business visions that you have just created, write down three personal and three business goals for each of the following time frames: 6 months, 12 months, 5 years. Remember that these goals should support your personal or your business vision.

4. Create an Action Plan for Each Goal
Now, for each of the 18 goals, create an action plan. This will include steps to take, potential obstacles to overcome, milestones to note, and other information that will help you as you work to achieve the goal.

5. Display Your Goals
Put your goals in a visible place where you can see and be reminded of them on a regular basis. You may wish to place business goals in your place of work, and personal goals on your desk or at your computer.

You’ve now completed the only envisioning and goal-setting process you will ever need to be successful. Congratulations!

I hope you’re getting really excited about the future potential of your business, and the power you have in you to achieve the vision and goals you have set while you’ve been taking part in the Business Growth Masterclass.

The next couple of installments will lay down further groundwork for your success, and then we will dive into the marketing strategies that are really going to transform your vision into reality.

For more information on the goal setting process described above, or to discuss any other aspect of your business growth strategy, use the following form to get in touch:

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

Welcome to the second in my blog series The Business Growth Masterclass

I’ve called this installment:

How to live and breathe the 5 part formula for Business Growth

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

  • You’ve created a strong, clear business vision that is realistic and achievable.
  • You’ve posted your vision in a place where you and your staff will be able to see it on a daily basis.

You’re going to achieve your vision (and your dreams!) by adopting the five-step process into all areas of your business.

It’s one thing to try a new marketing strategy, but it’s another to change your approach altogether. It’s just like dieting. Sure, if you cut 20% of your calories for two weeks you’re going to see some results. But, the minute you go back to your old patterns, the results quickly disappear.

Temporary changes generate temporary results. Sustainable results require changes in behaviour; the removal of old habits and creation of new ones.

All of the advanced marketing strategies that you’ll learn in the Business Growth Masterclass will contribute to one of the five steps. By the end, you’ll have worked through all areas of your business and optimised them for success (remember, a 10% increase in the 5 areas can lead you towards doubling your profits (not revenues!).

In this installment of the Business Growth Masterclass we will cover:

  • How the five-step process will impact all areas of your business
  • How to get used to working with the five-part formula
  • A review of the five steps
  • How to set yourself up for success with the program

The five-step process is a way of doing business. It’s not a temporary strategy, and it won’t generate temporary results.

The five-part formula is so effective because it touches on each and every area of your business. It will improve and increase and generate and sharpen and strengthen everything that you and your employees do.

Once you complete a step, you’ll never go back to your old way of doing things again. This is a programme for positive change and powerful results. The change is long lasting and the results are far reaching.

Choosing to begin the five-step process will have an impact on every area of your business:

Lead Generation Conversion Rates Number of Transactions Pound Sales Profit Margins
Any strategy you use to get people to call or walk through the door. Any strategy you use to get people to BUY from you. Any strategy you use to get existing customers to buy from you more often, or stay loyal to your business. Any strategy you use to get customers to spend more money in a single transaction. Any strategy you use to maximise the percentage of the cost of each product/service that is profit.
Advertising
Promotions
Press Releases
Listings
Website
Online marketing
Sales process
Sales staff
Sales scripts
Point of sale
Image Merchandising
Staff scheduling
Staff happiness
Staff training and development
Customer service
Customer loyalty program
Point of sale
Impulse items
Sales process
Sales scripts
Stock
Stock availabilityExclusivity of products/services
Product or service costs
Expenses
Rent / lease
Business supplies
Pricing strategy

Let’s get used to working with the basic formula that the five-step process is based on. You’ll want to post this formula somewhere visible, where you can see it on a regular basis.

# of Leads
X
% Conversion Rate
=
# of Customers
X
# of Transactions
X
Average Pound Sale
=
Revenue
X
% Margin
=
£ Profit

As you can see, each of the items in bold typeface is a factor that influences the bottom line – your profit. Each of these is a step in the five-step process. You will work on each line sequentially, and the impact on your profit will build over time.

A nominal 10% increase in each of the five factors would look like this:

Starting Point Goals (10% Increase)
Leads 4,500 Leads 4,950
Conversion Rate 30% Conversion Rate 33%
Customers 1350 Customers 1633.5
Transactions 1.3 Transactions 1.43
Average Pound Sale £140 Average Pound Sale £154
Revenue £245,700 Revenue £359,729.37
Margins 24% Margins 26.4%
Profit £58,968 Profit £94,968.55

Here are a few blank charts for you to use to see how a 10%, 20% and 50% increase in each of the factors will impact your profit.

Create the chart below on your pad of paper (use the same pad as last week ideally – the process of writing this down will give you a 400% better retention rate). Use the left side of the chart to fill in your existing numbers. If you don’t know, take a guess. The point here is to understand how little increases will have big impacts on your bottom line profits. We’ll show you how to start tracking your results at the beginning of each step in the program.

Starting Point Goals (10% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit
Starting Point Goals (20% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit
Starting Point Goals (50% Increase)
Leads (#) Leads
Conversion Rate (%) Conversion Rate
Customers (#) Customers
Transactions (#) Transactions
Average Pound Sale (£) Average Pound Sale
Revenue (£) Revenue
Margins (%) Margins
Profit (£) Profit

Step One / Lead Generation: How can you get more people to walk through your door, pick up the phone, and/or visit your website?

Your leads are your prospects or potential customers. They are people who have taken action in response to your ad or promotion, and have shown interest in your product or service, but have not become a customer because they haven’t purchased yet.

Lead generation is important because you can’t increase the number of customers you have. This is because customers are the by-product of two things:

No. of LEADS X % CONVERSION RATE = No. of Customers

This means that you have to generate more leads and get more of those leads to make purchases in order to increase your customer base. Note; this is a very important step because your ‘cost of client acquisition’ (price you pay to acquire a new client) is the most expensive function of your business. (Yours, mine, and every other business on the planet by the way…)

So lead generation is about finding ways to reach the people who need or want what you have to offer and getting them to act – to pick up the phone, visit your website or walk into your business. This is what the majority of marketing strategies are trying to do.

  • advertising
  • business listings
  • direct mail
  • promotions
  • press releases
  • flyers
  • referral partnerships
  • publicity
  • coupons

Step Two / Conversion Rate: How can you get the people who walk through your door, pick up the phone, and visit your website to BUY something?

Conversions are the second factor in the customer equation. A conversion rate is simply our leads divided by our number of transactions in a specific time period.

No. of  TRANSACTIONS / No. of LEADS = % Conversion Rate

This is a key focus of your business and your staff’s time. After all, why spend time and money attracting tons of qualified leads if you can’t make them buy when they’re in the store? We call this “confusing being busy… with being successful!” Don’t let it happen to you.

Several aspects of your organization impact your conversion rate:

  • Your business image and the first impression customers have of you/your business
  • The strength and effectiveness of your sales team
  • Your sales process and staff training and development programs
  • The strength of your sales scripts (Do you want fries with that?)
  • The level of purchase risk involved in your product or service

Step Three / Transactions: How can you get your customers to buy from you MORE than ONCE?

The process of attracting and converting a customer is one that costs you money. Customers cost you money. They’re an investment that you need to make the most of to stretch your lead generation investment.

You can reduce the cost of your customer by increasing the number of times that they purchase from you. This increases the total number of transactions in your business and the amount of money that flows in.

So instead of continuously chasing down leads and converting them to customers, increasing transactions is about keeping our existing customers loyal and coming back to spend money.

  • exceptional customer service
  • customer loyalty programs
  • incentives
  • newsletters
  • convenience services
  • bonus amenities
  • referrals

Step Four / Average Sale: How can you get your customers to buy MORE from you each time they buy?

Your total revenue is the product of how many customers you have, how many times they purchase from you, and how much they spend.

No. of CUSTOMERS X No. of  TRANSACTIONS X £ AVERAGE SALE = £ Revenue

Increasing the average amount of money customers spend with you is the final way you can increase the amount of money that comes into your business. It’s amazing how small increases in this value can have big impacts on your revenue. If I were to come into your business tomorrow and you IMMEDIATELY needed to increase profits – this is the first place I would look and the easiest area to make a large improvement in your profits.

You’ll have to show your customer that they needed or want more than what they purchased. The amount that you are able to increase will depend on the type of business you are in – it’s easier to sell gel pens than an additional dishwasher – but generally every business can find opportunities to increase this figure.

  • The strength of your sales team
  • Merchandising at your point of sale
  • Add-on items
  • Cross-selling
  • Usage of impulse items
  • The strength of your sales scripts
  • Upselling
  • Opportunities for packaging and widgets
  • Staff training, development and incentives

Step Five / Margins: How can you make more profit off each product and service you sell?

The last opportunity you have to influence your profit is your profit margin. Your total revenue times your margin as a percentage equals your total profit.

£ REVENUE X % PROFIT MARGIN = £ Profit

Essentially, your goal here is to make your profit margin as high as possible. As the final factor in the profit calculation, increasing your margin is a vital step towards maximizing your profits.

If your margins are too low, you’ll never make any money – regardless of how many customers you have, how often they buy from you, or how much they spend. Your revenue will perpetually go back into your business and be spent on costs.

There are three ways to maximise your margins:

  1. Increase prices
  2. Cut operating and product/service costs (operating costs include rent, leases, salaries, commissions, and office supplies)
  3. Increase gross profit margins (gross profit is revenues minus labor, materials and overhead related to the product/service)

Alarmingly, many business owners do not genuinely know their weekly/monthly/annual profit – you need to go into the business of generating a profit (this will be a paradigm shift for many – it is not about greed, it is about looking after those you care about. The more money you make, the more you can provide for your family, charity, your golf club etc…) and work towards increasing that profit each and every day, week, month and year.

Now that you have a good grasp on how the five-step formula works, and an idea of the marketing strategies you’ll learn to work with, take a few moments and set yourself up for success.

1. Schedule time in your week to focus on the 5 step process.

Identify two timeslots in your weekly schedule that you can set aside for this task – it’s important! This will keep you from putting it off for later, and delaying the positive changes to your revenue stream.

2. Post reminders of your vision, goals and targets in visible places.

Keep yourself focused and on track by surrounding yourself with the positive changes you have already made, and will continue to make. Post your business vision, personal and business goals and targets in your office and staff rooms.

3. Include your staff in the process.

Your employees are a powerful resource in your business – they ultimately are the people that you will need to trust and empower to run the business without your own day-to-day involvement. They are the people that your customers come in contact with on a regular basis, and represent your business image, brand and message.

Let them in on what you’re doing, and educate them on the five-part formula. Show them how their actions, input and skills contribute to the operations and profitability of the business.

4. Start paying attention to your current numbers and tracking systems.

Now that you have an idea of what factors and figures you’ll be working to increase, start paying attention to what those numbers look like now. If you have tracking systems in place, run some reports and get an understanding of your current situation. Think about these questions:

  • where do your customers come from?
  • what marketing campaigns work the best?
  • what lead generation strategies work the best?
  • how many of your customers buy from you?
  • how often do they buy from you?
  • how much do they buy from you?
  • what do your existing profit margins look like?
  • what percentage of your items are high margin, and which are low?

Now that you have an idea of where your business is going, let’s start mapping out how you’re going to get there.

In my next Business Growth Masterclass we will look at setting SMART goals and retraining the way you think about yourself and your ability to achieve what you deserve. There’s lots of important work to do!

As your mentor, 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

Congrats for tuning in,

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,

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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