Getting Off to a Fast Start!

I’ve done a bit of racing in my time – both cycling and running. And I’ve found one thing to be universally true. If you want to finish at the front, among the winners, it is critically important to get off to a fast start! While it has happened that someone has come from the back of the pack to win the race, it is rare. Most times you will find the winner at the front of the pack from the very start of the race.Race-Start

I think the same truth applies in business. While it does happen that business can be sluggish in the early part of the year but sales catch fire later in the year resulting in a fantastic year of growth, for the most part, you can tell whether it is going to be a winning year early in the year.

So, we are now in the 2nd week of this new year. Are you off to a fast start in your business?

Hopefully the answer is a resounding YES! But if not, this Stage 2 blog post may be the very thing you need to get your business in gear FAST!

Stage 2 of the Tour de Profit is all about making sure you have set your Goals for the year. This requires some thoughtful planning and preparation. So I want to give you 6 tips you can use to get your Goals and Plans in place for 2013 right away. Ready? Let’s go!

Step 1 – Make a Decision! In order to start the year off fast, you must be in the right frame of mind to get out of the gates fast. You’ve got to be committed to doing things differently than you did last year. You’ve got to stop some bad habits and start some good habits. You’ve got to get yourself in the mindset that this WILL be a great year – no hesitation, no reservation, no excuses!

Step 2 – Hold Your Year End News Conference Today! I believe it is important to visualize your success at the beginning of the year. To do this, I want you to fast-forward your mind to December 31, 2013 and imagine you are holding a news conference in front of your team, your investors, your customers and the press and sharing with them the top 5 or 6 big things you accomplished this year. What would be on your list? As you look back on 2013, what did you accomplish that was big, significant, special and noteworthy? Write those down now. Write your year end news release today – and start imagining it to be true already.

Step 3 – Know Your Personal Strengths and Opportunities. Before you start writing down big business strategies as your goals, take time for some self-reflection. Be honest with yourself and ask “how would I grade myself in my personal performance?” In the areas of personal energy, daily organization, sense of urgency, clarity, execution, follow through, service delivery, health & fitness and personal relationships. On a scale of 1-10, where are you functioning below a 7? Identify the 2 or 3 areas where you need to get better or improve yourself and make sure these are on your plan this year!

Step 4 – Build Your Team! No one can win the race by themselves. Every business owner needs to surround themselves with the specific technical, business and specialty skills and knowledge to be successful in a fast growing business. This means you need to have on your team a CPA, a business attorney, a business banker, a financial planner, a mentor/coach and other experts in the areas that are important to your business. Now is the time to make sure your team is together – not when you need them – but long before that! Do this right now. Surround yourself with talent if you expect to win.

Step 5 – Start with the Big Rocks! Most business owners get stuck in the trap of working on the small, insignificant things in the business – rather than focusing their time on the things that matter most. Avoid this trap by identifying the Big Rocks – those major projects, activities, events or efforts that will be game-changing for your business. Make sure these are put in your plan and on your calendar first! And, don’t forget to include those that are not business related but are perhaps even more important – time with your spouse, time with your children, and time for yourself!

Step 6 – Break Down Your Next 90 Days! Rather than thinking about 2013 as a single year, think about 2013 as a series of 4 – 90 day periods (4 quarters). Focus first on this next 90 day period. What needs to happen this next 90 days (13 weeks) to move your business forward fast? Be specific. Map out the next 13 weeks in detail. By the time this first 90 days is gone, you’ll need to reassess and re-set your plan. Thinking in 90 day increments will keep you sharp, crisp and on your plan!

Don’t get fooled into thinking that you can start out slow and make it up later in the year. Make the decision that this year you are going to “run with the leaders” from the start of the race. You’ll be energized by your early wins. You’ll gain confidence as you achieve your goals. You’ll get into a nice rhythm and pace that is sustainable throughout the year.

Stage 2 is all about getting off to a fast start. Don’t be left at the starting line. Follow these 6 steps this week!

Ride Hard!

Rich