In last month's blog entry, I talked about 3 of what I view as the 7 Keys to Gaining Control and Harnessing New Opportunities: 1) outsource, delegate and focus ON your business, 2) new markets and new marketing - stop defending the status quo, and 3) build a fence around your customer with a bridge letting the bad ones back in. Here are my Keys 4 through 7:
4. Get AWAY from your business. Admit it, the last few years (at least) have felt like being in a "grinder". The only way to clear your head and get those "idears" that are rattling around to stop and come out, is to step back from the daily grind. In order to work ON your business, you're going to have to get OUT of it. Trust me, I know it sounds scary, but you'll never do it if you don't decide you're going to and just do it. There are too many distractions and bad habits that have formed over the years. It's a straight jacket. It's time to escape. Try working form elsewhere for 1 or 2 days per week, just as a start; and then work your way up. Remember delegation? Let it go. Nothing is THAT serious over you working ON your business and personal life...is it? For some, this may mean a transition of personnel. It's natural. Do it. Move on. Define your goals, business and personal, clearly. A lot of people have never really done this. They don't REALLY know what they want because they're too worried about surviving. They have to stop living out of their company and start really working on a solid platform of cash flow vs. floating. Worrying about things is a waste of time and negative drain. Make sure you have the right people surrounding you with support. If they don't support you, then get rid of them or put them in a different position which doesn't require their opinion. Harsh? Naw, reality. The only opinions that matter in your business are from the people that give you money (i.e. your customers). Be a leader. Give your good people MORE authority to do things and make decisions. Eliminate all the time-sucking and unprofitable stuff you do each day. Outsource the rest. Guard YOUR time. I repeat; DO NOT let anyone waste your time. Time is the one thing you have total control over, and with only 1,400 minutes in each day, you must guard it to the utmost.
5. One of the most compelling messages (and useful) I've ever received was from my own business coach, who said something along the lines of "you're the sum total of the five people you hang out with regularly". Now, my personal take was, if I'm spending time with my family then that's not all that bad; however, I realized the real meaning was in the "other" side of my life. The WORK. It's true. Think about that statement for a minute. Like it or not, it's true, and it's either been great for you, or it's holding you back (majority are here whether they acknowledge it or not). Be cautious of who you take advice from. We preach this in our own mastermind groups. Ask yourself, are they really doing THAT well? If they're advice is so good...hmmmm...get the point? Don't feel bad, I was there not too long ago. You don't need to ditch your buddies. You just need to surround yourself with successful (sharp and savvy) people in your niche; people that will nurture you along and help you. It's not always a good thing to be the smartest guy in the room. After all, what is there to learn? My advice, join a mastermind group. Make an effort of getting together with that person you admire and respect. Buy em' dinner or a drink. The return on investment will be priceless. Ask a lot of questions and don't chase success; let it chase YOU.
6. You don't know what you don't know. I wasn't a reader growing up. Like a lot of kids, it didn't seem interesting at the time. I never understood reading for pleasure (I guess I still don't); BUT, I can tell you that surrounding myself with successful people has taught me exactly why struggling people buy BIG TV's and successful people BUILD libraries in their house. I've done more reading in the last 12 months, than I have in the last 12 years. The reason I can read more, is a direct result from implementing the tips I've shared thus far. Outsourcing, delegation, etc. The time I spend on reading is minimal. I focus on topics that are of interest and value to my business and then I implement them as quickly as possible; or I delegate them to someone for implementation. Remember the mastermind group? There's a lot of new "stuff" out there today such as Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogging, YouTube, etc.). These tools are critically beneficial in your businesses today, and their FREE. To ignore their presence is naïve. You don't have a choice but to learn what they can do for you, and then have someone do it FOR you. Don't wait. Educate yourself. Spend time learning and educating yourself in new areas that will benefit your business. I'm learning more and more each day; does this make me an expert in all these areas? Absolutely not, but I can tell you that I know a heck of a lot more than I did before and that's going to help me and my businesses with what's headed our way and a long way down the road. I've met a few guys in this industry who really think they've met everyone there is to meet, know everything there is to know about trucking, and well, let's just say "they have a big TV". Your trucking company today is where it is and is making the amount of money it is, because of the choices you made and the effort you put into running it. Any excuses of the economy did this, or the economy did that, are BS. Don't be another "victim". There's not much room for more whiners. Whether you're doing phenomenally well right now, or you're living out of your business on a negative operating ratio, it's never too late to grab the bull by the horns and learn something new. Just do SOMETHING with it.
7. Invest in YOURSELF. Since really making the decision to take "action", I've realized that I do go to a lot of seminars and workshops (preferably WORKshops) and I will continue to do so regardless of the expense. You don't know what you don't know. Ninety-nine of the people that go to events feel great when they are there, but then do "nothing" upon return. Do one single cottom pickin' thing and I guarantee you, you'll see an ROI. I try hard, and I mean hard, to surround myself with people I feel are smart and successful, sharp and savvy. Heck, they're fun. I run my own mastermind groups and these people are really fun, and really smart! These are the REAL movers and shakers that produce results. You know the guys, they "walk the walk" and "talk the talk", and they can back it up. I steer clear of exhibit shows and board meetings; but that me. Get your head out of the media and politics. You can't help anyone, let alone your business, if you can't help yourself. Workshops and mastermind groups are productive. That's what businesses need today; productivity. Be a fearless leader, know what you want, arm yourself with knowledge and got out and get it. Opportunities have never been greater. It's all up to the choices you make and the effort you put into it.
In my next blog I'm going to start breaking down some simple ways you can start leveraging the Internet and new media to create some market differentiation between yourself and your competitors.