Welcome to Success Starts on Sunday. Genius, inspiration, perspiration, 1% vs 99%, Thomas Edison and all that good stuff. To start, understand that consistency and applied effort are the keys to success. Start your week knowing exactly what you want to accomplish. Don’t wait until Monday morning to figure it out. Results only, activity is just that…activity. Success Starts on Sunday is designed to remind and motivate you as the #1 leader in your business to take your goals by the horns. As always, I’ll also give you a few simple, but impactful, actions to complement your path to success. A successful business is not rocket science, it’s about consistent and diligent execution. Now, get it DONE!
Plan your week! Now, go somewhere quiet and take 20 minutes to figure out what you need to do. Don’t overthink it, just let your mind reflect and go with your instincts, they are probably right. Once you have something, take a few minutes to imagine what accomplishing your goals will feel like. Most likely the results will not be instantaneous, so think about the results near term and down the road. If it’s something you’ll need to stick with then make sure you have some measurements in place to track your progress and results. Well done, you’ve now accomplished what 90% of other business owners aren’t doing now by being diligent and focused on actions that produce results.
In addition to planning your strategic and high value goals for the week I’ll provide a couple of actions for each week of the year. Each week is designed to inspire actions that are low effort but high ROI for your business and also correlate with the respective time of year. Modify each week’s action to fit your business but the key is just that, TAKE ACTION, GET RESULTS.
I hope this was helpful. I KNOW it will be helpful if you do it. I’d love to hear about your stories and ideas regarding the Triple S. As always, I’ll even post them on here as an example for others to use. Please email me or hit me up on Twitter. Have a great week and I’ll see you next Sunday!
Note: This concept was started later in the year, hence why it skips to Week 45.
It’s a new year! What do we do, where do we go?!?! New budgets, new outlooks and plenty of people wanting spend money at the beginning of the year. With all of this opportunity and positivity, make sure you keep your eye on the price. Pick 2-3 key strategies for the year and focus actions and planning around them. You’ve heard the saying that if you have more than 3 priorities then you have none, this is true. It should be business as usual and these 3 things. You can certainly have tactical items but they must point back to one of your key strategies.
Do you have your goals already picked out for the year? Print them on a big poster or give everyone a handout. Long story short, everyone in your organization should be able to recite them on command so do whatever sorcery is pertinent to your organization to make sure this happens and they stay fresh in everyone’s mind throughout the year.
Upgrade your office. Old phones, old chairs, old posters, old smelly food in the refrigerator? Take a look around and see what the best bang for your buck can be. Odds are there are some of these things that are pain points for some folks and will be much appreciated with their upgrade.
Have an office chili cook off. Odds are for 80% of the country its still cold where you are so this is a great seasonal activity. While a chili cook off is quite specific, you can take the key tenets to a variety of events. Post signs, get people excited about it. Have people sign up to compete or just participate in the other pot-luck necessities for such an event. Encourage your team to invite their families. Ultimately it doesn’t have to be much more than a lunch and a little socializing but its just a little event people can look forward to. An added benefit of having a causal event with families helps foster a deeper loyalty to your organization. Just be sure to light a candle in the bathroom for the remainder of the day:$
It’s time to rewrite your job postings aka job advertisements. Odds are you have been using the same one for quite a while, its time for a refresh. If you have a lot, maybe just focus on your top 3 important ones. But don’t just write the standard intro paragraph with a bulleted list of responsibilities. Remember this is an advertisement so make it compelling. A job description is what you give them deep into the interview process, a job posting/advertisement is to get them interested in your company. Here is an example of one of the favorite ones we have at Lifeblue. I get a lot of positive feedback when candidates apply. Have some fun with it!
Assign someone, hopefully you’re not a team of 1 (but its okay if you are), to organize your company digital file system. Odds are it has gotten messy and you know what they say about cleanliness and godliness. You can even assign different parts to different people but the net result should be a clear path for people to find the files they need, when they need them without having to track multiple paths. Can it be done? Oh, yes it can.
This is an exercise that works great with individual team members or your whole team, or heck, even with just yourself! Take a role or specific area of your business and ask those involved to dream a little. Here are some questions to facilitate:
Make it happen, sometimes just talking about it will get some improvements made. You can eventually work some of these dreams in as you go about the year. The outcome will surprise you.
An ignition day is a day to take a step back and work on work that isn’t work (say that 5 times fast). There are two routes you can go:
Have a few candidates from previous interviews you liked but didn’t hire for one reason or another? Or maybe someone that wasn’t quite a fit at the time but thought they had some potential. I bet you do. Find 5 or 6 and check in with them and see how they are doing. No strings attached, just a regular “How ya’ down’” You never know where it might lead.
An org chart is critical. Some think of it as an archaic tool but in my experience a majority people need to where they stand in the work, what they’re responsible for, and who do they go to for help. How you define this is your bag, but it must be defined in some manner. Here are a few questions to check your org chart mettle:
Take some time to answer all of these questions. If you are solid then good for you, homework done. If not, you might have some work to do so get on it!
The classic riff in business is sales vs production. It’s a natural dichotomy that always seems to ruffle a few features. Do you have something setup where the lead people in these roles can connect on a regular basis to discuss how to better align their goals? If so, great! Make sure it’s consistently happening and that the outcomes are being lived out. If not, then set it up! Just coming to the table with the thought of collaboration in mind can go a long way. You can figure out the rest from there.
Do you have values listed out for your business? I’m not talking about the customer facing marketing speak. What are the values that exist in your business? Haven’t defined them? Take a look at your business and see if you can construct what those values are. You can do this by listening to the common language being spoken, how people act, what people do when they are not at their desk working. It’s more like a report than a novel. How closely aligned is your “report” to what you might actually want them to be? There may be some work to do, but knowing is half the battle.
One of my more profound business learnings in my life came just a couple of years into my career. I was told a story of a car wash owner that was seeking to define his business. The layman answer to the question would be simple right? He is in the car wash business, duh! Not so fast. As the story goes, he came to define himself as being in the self-esteem business. Why do people wash their cars? Why do people have the cars they have? It reflects something about who they are and their reputation. So, if he designed his business around the notion that people were there to boost their self-esteem, what kind of decisions would he make versus if he was just trying to get as many cars as in and out as possible.
Is there a problem or opportunity lingering in your business? Has it been sitting there for a while but you can’t seem to find the resources to get it tackled and/or you don’t know exactly what to do? Take 30 minutes and see if there is someone out there that specializes in fixing your problem. There are plenty of consultants out there that do everything from compensation, process, finance to how to say “Yes, and…”(we did the last one once, it was interesting to say the least). We live in the age of information, don’t reinvent the wheel. Get some help!
Ok, maybe a half day. The point is to take some time and just go down the rabbit hole of looking at the past of your business. Read old emails. Look at old projects/products. Reminisce on past major milestones and events. You’ll uncover some good gems in the process. In the end you’ll very much appreciate how far you have come (even if it hasn’t been that long) and you might even discover a few things you want to come back to. It will be well worth your time.
What is your success rate on hiring quality candidates? This isn’t the MLB, you should have a hitting percentage in the bare minimum of 80% if not 90%. Otherwise you have a problem on your hands. Most businesses don’t have a great hiring process and subsequently don’t have the luxury of being a Google or an Apple where the best and brightest are beating down the door. Take a look at your interview process and starting asking the question of how you can better assess their skills, traits, and potential. This is no easy task but their may be none more important. I recently read a pretty darn good book that speaks to some pretty insightful stuff on how to evaluate candidates. Check out The Sales Acceleration Formula to get an idea of what may take to create a great hiring process. PS, the best insights in this book, have nothing to do with sales.
Schedule 30 minutes to take a hard look at how your year is starting out. Think about some of the initiative you laid out as part of your strategy. How are those going? Are some re-adjustments in order? What is the excitement level sitting at? If something is off, take some immediate steps to correct.
What are some of the key financial investments you have made this year? Growth positions, equipment, etc? How are those paying off? Can you measure ROI to these investments? If you haven’t made any, start to think about what they should be? Should you make a new hire? Basically what can you take your resource of cash and do something that is going to pay off by the end of the year. Do it now!
Not really. However, what is a skill or subject area that would be valuable for your business? Try think of 2-3 subjects. Now, go find 2-3 books on each subject. Yes, books. I believe in the quality of something that took a long time to create and I high hurdle to publish. Start with a goal of 1 book a month. Find a daily habit that you can partner with reading a book. Bathroom breaks are phenomenal. While your kids are doing homework, reading before bedtime, with your morning coffee are some other ideas.
Take notes, good notes. You should come away with 5-6 things you are going to take action on and improve. Knowledge without action is wasted. Over time you will really start to see your expertise develop. You can always complement this information with articles, blogs, podcasts, etc. However, a book is the best path to get a slow, yet solid foundation on a topic.
Take an inventory of every part of your business that you would want to train every single staff member. Company values, specific processes, finance, business development cycle, etc. Don’t worry about how yet, just think in your perfect world of what would be beneficial for everyone in your company to know. Don’t leave something out because you think people already know it. Do your first draft and come back to it a few hours or more later and see if there is anything you forgot.
Now that you have your outline of training, it’s time for the next part. What would be the materials or curriculum needed to train someone in each of those areas? Is it a powerpoint, an online course, a book, or a series of articles? Is it something critical and needs more than one of any of those items? For a lot of them, you it may be best to have your own powerpoint and methodology, even if you are “borrowing” it from some other existing source. Again, don’t worry about if you have these items yet, just think of what they would be.
Next, determine a description of what it would mean if someone grasped each particular area. For example if you were training on how your company does its sales process the description would be “Understands the high level steps in the sales process and how the timeline and on-boarding methods are executed.” As extra credit, you could have more robust and complex descriptions for various levels of understanding.
At this point you have created a fully comprehensive training program for the majority of your business. You can also do the same methods and apply them to more skill specific roles within your company. If you’ve got some training materials to create, build a plan to get them done. 2-3 a week or however aggressive you want to be. Depending upon how many managers/leaders you have in your business, be sure to share with them or have them help create it to begin with.
Take one of your top team members out to lunch. Make the time about them. Ask questions about their life, take the focus off of business for a while. It is really just time to show you care about them as a person.
Bonus: Mark it on your calendar to do this with your top employees at least once a month. Sadly, its often the squeaky wheel that gets the grease and we leave our best team members on auto-pilot so this is great opportunity to re-connect on a semi-regular basis.
Send a small gift to one or more of your customers. This will show them you appreciate your relationship and value them as a customer. A food basket is always a good default but try to make it as meaningful as possible.
Bonus:Assign someone on your team to do this on a regular basis. How often is relative to how many customers you actually have but regardless of what type of business you have you are likely to get your customers talking about you a little more.
What is your rallying cry for 2017? Basically it’s the theme for the year that helps focus and energize you and everyone else on your team when things get heavy. It can be simple, it should be simple. For example, a solo-entrepreneur client of mine’s 2016 rally was “The $250K David.” The focus wasn’t about the money as much as it was how to simplify the activities in the business so he could earn a fair amount of revenue without burning himself out. During our meetings we would continue to use this phrase as a guide post to focus his efforts. The projected results look like we should have made the rallying cry $350K David. 2x the amount of revenue he has earned in any previous year. Take a few minutes to think about what this is for your business.
List 3 things that need to happen this year so you can start the next year off right. Put this up somewhere in your office so others can see it. Let your team know what these are and why you are doing it. Ideally this should be outside of your day to day production. Maybe there is a couple of skeletons in the closet you have been more than happy to ignore. Whatever it is, it should be a little painful to get it done but allow you to start the year with some weight off of your shoulders.
Send a token of appreciation to everyone in your company. Whether its a small package of cookies, a $5 Starbucks card, or the dozens of other small things you can probably think of in a 5 minute brainstorm session. It doesn’t have to be big but the more important factor is that it becomes obvious its from you. Hand deliver them if feasible or attach a note to each one that is specific to that person. Its Thanksgiving and thats what you are doing. Have fun!
It never fails that right after Thanksgiving the next few weeks before the end of the year seem to happen in a few seconds. This may be a busier period for some businesses and a slower period for others but one of the best things you can do is let everyone at your company know whats going on until you leave for the holidays. You could send out a note to make sure everyone is aware of any and all key meetings, events, and anything else so as your team can make sure to plan their life accordingly amongst all the stress. Try to be thorough as possible and while not all may appreciate it, there are some sure-fire uber organized people in your business that will.
Think of 3 things you or your business is currently doing that need to stop. Are you offering a service line that isn’t profitable or causing you a lot of pain? Is there something in your culture you want to change? I often find this can be a very simple exercise that can have significant results and I did this exercise with a client at the beginning of the year. We were able to come up with a quick list that has been extremely effective. See below:
If they can be an immediate change, then great! Stop doing them this week and stay with it. Some may take some work but put it on a post-it, whiteboard, or your hand! Just don’t forget about them.
Now, name 3 things you or your business should start doing immediately. I think these are even easier than the stops. They can be very simple things like seeking out an employee each morning to chat with for 5 minutes or making it a point to send a thank you note to someone every day. You can certainly go bigger but the real focus is to inject something in your business routine that can have long term, compounding effect.
Think of something you can do during the Christmas holiday break that would be a welcome surprise to your team. Think of it like a “we” gift to benefit your entire organization. Do you have an office upgrade in mind? A new super fancy coffee machine? Some shnazzy new furniture? Maybe ask a few of your trusted team members to give some ideas as to what would be the biggest bang for the buck if you’re stumped.
Put a strategy day on the calendar for sometime in January of 2017. Once you have it on the calendar you will be a lot more likely to commit if its typically something you have trouble getting the motivation to do. If this is something you do, then great! It’s now on the calendar and you should know what you need to do to make it happen. If this is something new to you here are some ideas as to what it could/should include:
Whatever you decide to do for your strategy day, be sure to make it purposeful and lead the conversation. Value every idea that comes to the table but you can organically center the conversation around the good ones that come up. We do these every year for our business and it’s proven itself to be absolutely critical. Most of all have fun with it, you’ll get better results.
It’s house cleaning time! As you begin to think about budgeting for the next year its a good time to find some of those minuscule expenses that you’ve been paying that aren’t necessary anymore. Whether it be a license for a software no one in your business uses any more or perhaps you’re paying more than you need for a particular service and can downgrade your subscription. This isn’t about cutting away things for the sake of saving money, its simply about being diligent as to where your funds go. This is especially important for businesses with several team members that have purchasing power. We recently did this and over the course of an hour found over $25K in annualized expenses that weren’t necessary anymore. I don’t think there are too many businesses where that amount of money is pocket change…do you?
Speaking of cleaning…take an hour with your team and go through your office or workspace and tidy things up. I’m not talking about dusting and sweeping, although knock yourself out if it needs it. I’m talking about organization and clutter. It’s easy in the daily grind to ignore things like this but for most people clutter can be distracting and cleaning cleanses the space as well as the soul. Doing it as a team makes it quick and easy and also shows that its not just the office manager that’s responsible for taking care of everything and cleaning up after people.
What’s the number one position you need to find a candidate for? Go to LinkedIn and search for 50 profiles that meet the general criteria for that role and where the individual seems like they would be a good fit. Craft a witty, professional introduction to send. It can’t just be…”Hey I have a job for you, want it?” Just ask to speak with them or take them to lunch. Send it out (you may need to upgrade your account for a bit) and see what kind of a response you get. Odds are if your note is interesting enough you should get approximately 5-10 responses back (5-10% conversion rate). Perhaps one of these leads to your hire or worst case you just networked with some good folks in your space and put your name out there.
Speaking of hiring, think of 2-3 consistent activities you can do to beef up your recruiting efforts. If the only thing you are doing is job postings, then you aren’t doing enough. Here are some quick ideas for starters:
Obviously there are a million things you can do, just pick a few and have fun with it. Got some you want to add, would love to hear it?
For many people December 31st is a night to party. For a lot of others it is also a night to shore up any tax related items before the end of the year. Kill two birds with one stone and make a donation to a charity of your choice, preferably local, under the name of your business. If you’re really chipper, commit to a small portion of your annual profits (1-5%, or certainly more) to donate on an annual basis. You can get your whole company involved in whom you choose to donate and make it a cause everyone gets behind each year. It can expand into a lot of other cultural benefits for your organization as well. Hopefully Uncle Sam won’t be all that mad since you are doing it for a good cause, even though he really needs that extra money for the $20K toilet seat.
Last but not least, take a look and write 5 areas where your business improved this year. These can be subjective or objective evaluations and the further its removed from actual $$$, the better. The key thing is that you are being honest with yourself. Take a few minutes and really appreciate the work you and your team did this year. No joking, just sit there and think about them once you have your list. The new year will be approaching and everything will be go-go-go so enjoy this moment to look back and relish in your success. No matter how your business performed financially, I guarantee you have 5 ares where your business improved this year.