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Seven Decision-Making Principles Leading us to Profitability

Guiding Principles of a business are necessary (honesty, integrity, customer service, etc.), but there is another set of principles that help the Business Owner in particular: decision-making principles.

How we make decisions effects everything we do. Problem – we make decisions subjectively, even when we think we’re being objective. All the research shows this – even at the major company level – we even buy subjectively.

As a result, we react badly to shiny objects, short-term victories and defeats, and strategic planning. So the question becomes, do you guide your biz or does it rule you? Who’s really in charge?

Want to make more money and stop recovering from bad decisions? Get some simple decision-making principles on which you run your business.

Like rails that guide a train, your decision-making principles are a core strategy to having a business that knows where it is going and how it is going to get there.

Here’s my seven decision-making principles. What are yours?

The 7 Decision-Making Principles of TeamNimbusWest Crankset Group:

  1. Business Maturity Date – Know Where I’m going & when I want to be there. (Seriously, you plan your vacation destination and time to be there, why in the world don’t you plan the destination and time to be there for your business. Which one is more important? Duh…)
  2. Make more money in less time. – Why do what others can and will do, when there’s so much to be done that others can’t or won’t do? Yield Per Hour. Distributive Management. Your NOT saving money by doing things below your pay grade. If you want to make $200 per hour, every time you do a $20 per hour job, you just lost $180.
  3. Focus on my lifetime goals, not just on growing my business – A BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) will keep us going, but “grow the business” is a lifeless idea. So is retirement. Get a reason to have a business, then watch how much more money you make, and in less time.
  4. Get off the treadmill, own the business instead of the business owning me. – The purpose of our business is to create a lifestyle for ourselves and our family. Stop making money, stop making a living, and start building a business that makes money while you’re on vacation.
  5. Work ON my business, not just IN it. Highest and best use of my time. – The key to growth – perfecting as we go by strategic planning, not just production. Know where you’re going, and regularly adjust. I revisit my Strategic Plan every Monday. Keep steering all the time.
  6. Make decisions on where I want to be, not where I am. – Clarity of Purpose leads to Hope which leads to Risk. Know where you’re going (clarity), which will give you something to believe in (Hope), which will allow you to risk moving forward. Take good risks to grow.
  7. Bad plans carried out violently many times yield good results. Do something. Stop planning. Implement now and perfect as you go. Speed of Execution rules. It’s a both/and thing. Move NOW (stop thinking), then as soon as you start moving, start perfecting. If you just move, you’re going to get clobbered. If you just perfect, you’ll never start moving. Implement now, perfect as you go.

What are the decision-making principles of your business?

You’ve got decision-making principles that are running the show. You might as well write them down and see if you agree with who/what is actually in charge. If not, change them and take control of your business future.

Learn objectivity in decision-making processes. Know where you’re going, delegate, make decisions based on your strategic plan, and not based on where you are right now. And stop thinking about it so long. It’s not how good the plan is, but how committed you are to the bad (incomplete) plan you have. And how good you make decisions as you go.

Guidelines vs. Rules – Creating Wildly Successful Employees

Employees have changed. Rules don’t cut it anymore. The newer generation isn’t sure it even wants to go to work and has in some ways decided to retire BEFORE working. They’re out there “gigging” instead of working. How do you as a Business Owner respond to this new world?

How is the new world different than the old industrial age employee world? The old world had rules the employee needed to live by. The new world has guidelines that create ownership, freedom, teamwork, and creative involvement for the employe:

Employee Guidelines (principles) → → Employee Rules (laws)

  • Provide Framework → → → → → → → → → Box to live in.
  • Gives you a “floor”-minimum → → → → → Gives you a ceiling – “maximum”
  • Encourages innovation → → → → → → → →Encourages conformity/sameness
  • Frees up employees to win → → → → → → →Creates fear of losing
  • Emphasis on effective result → → → → → →Emphasis on process/procedure
  • Emphasis on employee ownership → → → Emphasis on we/they blame games
  • Encourages participation/innovation → → Encourages hiding/work-arounds.
    Examples of each:
    Apple Computers → → → → → → → → → → U.S. Government

A Key Objective in creating happy employees: Create “ownership” of their job, and help them see how it fits into the bigger picture (process mapping is a great way to do this.)

How do you lead in the new world? By becoming a Servant Leader. The best leaders have always led this way, but if you don’t lead this way in the new employer world, you won’t keep your employees.

Leaders do not exist to be served by those “under” them. They do not have the right to have others make them look good. Having a title on a door does not make you a leader. Leaders are focused on how they can make everyone else around them more successful (the servant leader). Employees are very clear that the leader’s job is to champion them and give them the vision, environment, resources, training, and connections to be wildly successful. The smart leader knows that if everyone around them is successful, they won’t have to worry about their own visibility or success.

Be a servant leader – create ownership among your employees for their positions, and focus your energies on making them wildly successful. You’ll have a great business and make more money in less time as a result.

Why Systems Focused Owners are better business builders than business starters.

Last week we tried to give perspective to the idea that being the classic Market Focused entrepreneur isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This week we’re looking at why Systems Focused managers are great business builders but aren’t such great business starters.

There are three basic business owner profiles:

  1. The Market Focused owner
  2. The Systems Focused owner
  3. The Product Focused owner

Every owner is a mix of all three, but we all lean heavily on a primary profile for the way we manage and make decisions.

Systems Focused owners are just that – focused on systems, process, procedures, routine. They look at business from the inside out – from the point of view of operations and delivery, not from the point of view of the market or the customer. Make a consistent product at the right margins and you’ve got a good company, so the Systemizer thinks. They’re not always passionate about the particular product or service they’re selling, but they are very passionate about operations itself.

They’re big on research and planning, usually wanting to make sure they’ve thought of everything, and as a result, are usually very risk averse and slow to make decisions. Speed of Execution is not their forte’. They make great managers, administrators, academics, scientists, and engineers. They are absolutely vital to a business growing to maturity, but it’s rarely a good idea for a Systems Focused person to be strike out on their own to start a business.

The Systems Focused person is usually very good at understanding how a business should run, so they think that translates to being good at starting a business.

Rarely.

Because Systems Focused owners are such great planners, this ironically works against them in starting a business. That great research and planning instinct also contributes to their usual great aversion to risk. These two things usually combine to make Systems Focused people very bad at starting a business.

The #1 indicator of success in the early stages of a business is not how great the planning was, how perfect the product is out of the gate, how knowledgeable we are about our market, or how much money we’ve sunk into the project. The #1 indicator of success in the earliest stages of a business is Speed of Execution, which, along with risk aversion, is the biggest challenge for a Systems Focused owner.

Systems Focused owners will miss opportunity after opportunity making sure their operations are well oiled, their marketing is perfect, and their delivery mechanism is seamless. And until they get it right, they won’t pull the trigger. Their unwillingness to move until conditions are perfect (risk aversion) will drain their startup capital and leave them miles behind their competition at every step.

The Systemizer lacks vision for the future (too busy researching the past) and urgency for today’s production. If the Systemizer recognizes their strengths, they’ll get the influence of a Market Focused person to help them keep tomorrow in focus, and the influence of a Product Focused person to help them get a sense of urgency about today – Speed of Execution. If they can do this, their likelihood of starting and growing a mature business will go up exponentially. FYI – they do much better buying a franchise (with good systems in place) or existing business, than starting a business from scratch.

Next week, we’ll talk about the third profile, the Product Focused owner; the one who starts the overwhelming majority of businesses, and has a better track record doing so than the other two. But growing a business to maturity? That’s another story.

Deciding when your Business is Mature, and How To Pick a Date to get there.

As a business owner, Business Maturity isn’t about how big your business gets or how much revenue it generates. It’s about 1) your own ability to choose what to do with your time, and 2) the ability to walk away from your business for weeks or longer and have it still make money while you’re not there.

You could decide that it means that the leadership is completely turned over to others and the business is ready to be sold. But at a minimum, a business is not Mature if you are still necessary to the daily production of products/services (there is a difference between being necessary and being able to choose to personally produce.)

Here’s how to paint a good picture of what your Mature Business looks like:

  1. Know your Lifetime Goals. (Why are you doing this? To what end??)
  2. Calculate the cost of the Ideal Situation for living out those Lifetime Goals.
  3. Decide WHEN you want to be in that Ideal Situation. Stop reading here if you don’t want to put a date on when you get to your Ideal Situation. Growing a Mature Business won’t matter enough to you to actually do it.
  4. Decide what salary/cash you need to support your Ideal Situation.
  5. Make your best prediction of how much revenue your business will need to generate to allow you to pull the salary/cash you need to support your Ideal Situation.
  6. Make your best guess at how your business will do this. There are three ways to make money when you’re not around.
    1. Talent – The painter Renoir bought his massive French villa w/ two paintings, and his car with a pencil sketch. If you have unique talents then you can charge enough per hour to work very few hours. The problem with this approach is that it’s a crapshoot to have your talent recognized at this level, and your business really never matures because it still relies on you to produce. If you get sick or injured or worse, the revenue stream stops.
    2. Employees – this is the most common way to make money when you’re on vacation – buy someone else’s 40 hours a week at a discount, and resell it to your customers at a premium. The difference creates profit for you even when you’re not there.
    3. Products/Services – If you don’t want employees and you’re not über-talented, you can create products or services that you can license to others to produce. Or you can franchise your services for others to deliver, or create online software, products, or services that need very little maintenance.
  7. Paint as clear a picture as you can of what your Mature Business looks like in terms of the salary/cash it provides you, the time it allows you to use in other ways, and how the what will produce the revenue (Talent, Employees, or Products/Services), then
  8. Pick a Business Maturity Date – the single most important step in the process. If you don’t want to do this, don’t bother with Steps 1-7.

Don’t torture this – you’ll know you have a good enough picture when you’re excitement level for getting there has gone way up. If you have an Objective that is motivating enough, you will figure out the steps required along the way to get there.

Do you know what Business Maturity looks like for your business? Are you completely committed to a Business Maturity Date that you’ve gone public with? If so, welcome to the 3to5Club (see earlier posts)! Describe your Mature Business and your Business Maturity Date here – let’s get moving together!

 

How we got on the business treadmill and why we can’t get off.

Our business trains us to focus on the wrong thing. And we buy into the lie.

There are Seven Stages in the Maturity of a business. Today we’ll focus on the first four, because they tell us what happened that screwed up our understanding of how to grow a business and why we can’t get off the treadmill.

In Stage 1 (Concept and Startup), we need money. To get money, we need clients. So a Stage 1 business teaches us that it’s all about making money via Sales.

In Stage 2 (Survival), we’ve been mucking along for a while and the outside funding is beginning to dry up. We need money even worse. To get money, we need clients. So a Stage 2 business confirms to us that it’s even more important to focus on making money via Sales.

In Stage 3 (Subsistence) we finally have done enough sales to get enough clients to break even. But we have to produce for these clients, because if we don’t produce, we don’t get paid, and we need money. So a Stage 3 business teaches us that we have to focus on making money via production, or our Craft.

And finally, a Stage 4 business (Stability by Hands-On, focused on the producing the “Craft”)) allows us to buy a hot tub and go on vacation a couple weeks a year, confirming to us that the owner’s purpose is to make money.

But what our business taught us in these first four stages is exactly what keeps us on the treadmill for 30 years and never lets us off. Our business taught us that we should make money, and it is that misconception that keeps us from building a business that makes money when we’re on vacation. We’re on the treadmill of making money.

Unfortunately our bias toward the treadmill of making money is confirmed as we look around and see most other businesses stuck in Stage 4 as well. So quiet desperation sets in – this must be all there is. And to add insult to injury, at some point we realize that if we had stayed at IBM, we could still have bought a hot tub and gone on vacation a couple times a year, except in that case we would not have lost money while on vacation or had to wake up nights wondering how we’ll pay off the debt we incurred in Stages 1 and 2.

Why did we do this? How was it worth the trouble and the responsibility we’ve taken on? Why did we decide to buy a job and become employees of ourselves?

We did it because 1) our business taught us to make money, and 2) we see that most other small businesses have gotten stuck on Stage 3 or 4, confirming that this is actually normal.

Stage 3 and 4 are not normal at all, they are merely average. Most businesses have stalled there, but the normal business will break through to Stages 5-7 and make money for the owner when the owner is not there.

Stop being an employee of yourself, get off the treadmill, and get back to the passionate that brought you into business in the first place. Next week we’ll talk about the clear simple actions that will allow us to do just that.

You’re almost certainly a hostage of your business and don’t know it.

During the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980, I listened to an expert describe why being a hostage for a short period of time was exponentially worse then being sentenced to prison for many years.

A hostage lives without clear rules, never knowing what each day might bring – anything from death to freedom, from promises for release to wondering if they will ever be free. The most damaging thing is the lack of a definitive ending date – it could go on forever. A prisoner on the other hand, knows very clearly what the rules are for daily living, and most importantly, there is a clear end date leading to freedom.

When you know the daily rules and there is a clock leading to freedom, it’s immeasurably easier to stay encouraged and work toward that end date.

If you don’t have a clear Strategic Plan, or a Business Maturity Date for when you’re business will make money without you being around, you are a hostage of your business; no clear rules, no end in site. Thoreau said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Is it any wonder why we feel we’re on a “quiet desperation” treadmill? We’re so busy making money that it never dawns on us to do the things that will help us build a business that makes money.

I’m no longer a hostage to my business. I have clear daily rules (my 12-month rolling Strategic Plan) and a clear end in site (My Business Maturity Date: Friday, February 18, 2011, 10:00am). It makes the journey itself a whole lot more exciting and meaningful. And as a result, quiet desperation has become quiet resolve.

Are you a hostage to your business, experiencing quiet desperation on the treadmill? Or do you have a Strategic Plan that runs your business, and a Business Maturity Date? Get off the treadmill and get back to the passion that brought you into business in the first place.

Get a clear Business Maturity Date (the day your business will start making money when you’renot around) and a clear Strategic Plan for getting there. You’ll make more money in less time.

3to5 Club – Is there a Business Maturity clock ticking in your business?

I know what my business looks like when it’s mature and I know to the day and hour when I plan to get there. And it won’t take as long as you think. What’s your Business Maturity Date?

What we talked about 2 weeks ago is too important to not repeat as a setup for this week’s conversation: We think our purpose in business is to make money when our purpose in business is to BUILD A BUSINESS that makes money when we’re not there. These two things are worlds apart, and almost every business owner I work with is absolutely buried in making money, which will keep them from ever making a lot of it.

Why? Because we can’t find the proper balance between the Tyranny of the Urgent – things we have to do to personally make money today; and the Priority of the Important – building a business that will make money for us w/out even being there.

We never have a problem with the Tyranny of the Urgent. Got to pay the bills – It comes rushing at us every morning like a locomotive with a stuck, screeching whistle, while the Priority of the Important (building a business that makes money when we’re not around) sits quietly in the corner of our minds, waiting to be picked up and dealt with, never screaming; just a subconscious whisper in our ears, “Deal with me now and you’ll have fewer Urgent things down the road.”

It’s immediately drowned out by the screeching whistle, so we get sucked on board and spend another day riding in circles with cranky passengers, smoke in our eyes, shoveling coal and sweating it out, and wondering how to get off this cursed treadmill-like train that just comes back to the same place every day.

Here’s how:

Pick a Business Maturity Date. It’s that simple. What? Yes. Just pick a maturity date. It will change you forever. From a hostage to someone heading straight for freedom.

Two years ago this week, March 6, 2007, I started my business with a Business Leader’s Insight lunch workshop with 24 people in attendance, with the same fear and trepidation every one of you felt the day you opened your doors and for months afterwards – it’s not any different for anyone – don’tkid yourself.

But something is different. I have a Business Maturity Date that will take me past the startup fear and right through the “languishing” that most businesses resign themselves to.

In 3 years, 11 months, 2 weeks, and 22 ½ hrs. from when I started, I expect to be done building a business that makes money when I’m not around. I’ve got a lot of work to do and the clock is ticking relentlessly, the train is screeching, belching, and going in circles, and at the same time I’ve got little time left already to build this business to maturity.

My Business Maturity Date? Friday, February 18, 2011, at 10am – 1 year 11 months and two weeks from now.

On that day I will have a mixed Stage 6-7 business (more another time on the Seven Stages of a Business) with others running the day to day and me continuing on in content development and focused delivery. I know how much money it is making on that day and how much I will take home. It is very clear to me what Maturity means to my business on that day.

At 8:30am on that morning I will have a staff meeting and turn over the business to them to run, have an early glass of champagne with them, leaving the office in good hands, and be out of the office by 10am to pack my bags. At 6:10pm that evening my wife and I will be on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand, her dream vacation, for three weeks of celebration. We land in Auckland at 7:25am Sunday morning. The trip will cost $12,380.

Does it change you a little bit even reading this? Imagine what it’s done to me, and what it will do to you when you make the same commitment. It will change you forever.

There are three steps that, when we take them, we change:

  1. Decide something.
  2. Pick a date for when we will be done.
  3. Go public.

To help us all with this three-step process in building a Mature Business, I’m starting a new “club” that is a big idea and will need to be owned by everyone involved. It will certainly end up with committed, focused business owners in cities across the world. It’s called 3to5Club. The three requirements to become a member?

  1. Make a decision that a) you will stop trying to make money and will become committed to building a business that makes money, and b) you will define and describe for yourself what a mature business means to you (it has to make money when you’re not there as a starter.)
  2. Pick a date for when it will be mature (note: this doesn’t mean you sell it that day; you could sell it, keep it and start another one, use it to fund your lifetime goals, turn it over to your kids, or keep working in it doing just the very few things that make magic for you.) And pick a time of day, not just a day – it will make a Priority of the Important Clock start ticking in your head loudly to help counter the screeching whistle of the Tyranny of the Urgent.
  3. Go public. You won’t really change permanently until you take this step.

Why the name? I’ve come to the conviction that it is normal that any business could be grown from inception to maturity in 3to5 years (investors always want their money back in 3to5), 2 to 7 in the best and worst of circumstances. That doesn’t mean you have to pick something in that range. But if you go out 9, 12, 15 years, I believe the bar isn’t high enough to create the urgency you need to be intentional every day about growing your business. It will be too easy to lapse back into making money, a deadly trap. Be ambitiously lazy, get done quicker.

I believe by using the one motivator and two bosses we talked about last week, that it is quite possible my business will be at Maturity before Friday, February 18, 2011, 10am. But what if I miss that date? How do I deal with the fear I might fail? The head starts spinning. We’ll talk about this next week, and the week after we’ll deal with the hostage comment I made at the beginning of this blog.

Are you in? Will you join me in becoming charter members of the 3to5 Club? We’ll do a website and all that crap later. Let’s get started. I’ve set up a meetup.com group for Denver (http://www.meetup.com/3to5Club/), and we’re going to have a charter meeting on Thursday, March 27 at 11:30pm at PanAsia Bistro in Lone Tree, CO. I would be happy to help you set up 3to5Club in your city as well – just leave me a comment.

I’d love to be the first graduate of the 3to5Club in 1 year, 11 months and two weeks from now, but I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will beat me to it. I hope so.

What’s your Business Maturity Date? What does your business look like that day, at that hour? Go public right here in the comments section and let’s take it from there. Speed of execution. I’m looking forward to “executing” that locomotive as quickly as possible.

Don’t focus on making money. No business can survive that.

The biggest problem in trying to grow a business is that we’re too busy making money. It’s not a play on words – it’s a serious problem. You’re too busy making money.

The overarching swing and a miss here: We think that our purpose in business is to make money when our purpose in business is to BUILD A BUSINESS that makes money. These two things are worlds apart, and almost every business I work with is absolutely buried in making money, which will keep them from ever making a lot of it. Why?

Because businesses are in a constant fight to balance two things:

The Tyranny of the Urgent

and

The Priority of the Important

The Urgent things in our business come flying at us all day every day, causing us to be REACTIVE and defensive in just holding the business together as best we can. One of the biggest things that comes flying at us daily is the need to make money to cover today’s bills.

We get so used to this pressure that even when it’s no longer there, and we’re making enough money to buy a hot tub on a whim and go on vacation a couple weeks a year to somewhere exotic, we never leave this mode of business. We actually think the goal is to make money. It’s a dead end and a big reason why most businesses, if they every grow up, don’t do so for decades.

In contrast, the Important things sit in the corner and whisper to us “I’m really Important, but you’re right, taking care of me today won’t make you more money today.”

Taking care of the Important things requires that we be PROACTIVE, because the Important things almost never seem Urgent. Taking care of the Urgent might even bring you Riches (money), but taking care of the Important will bring you Wealth (freedom and the ability to choose what to do with my time.)

Do you want Riches that you don’t have time to use, or Wealth that allows your business to make money while you’re on vacation?

One Example of the Important: If you stop making money long enough to write down the processes that you think you’re using in production, you don’t make more money today by doing that. But you now have something that will save you big bucks in re-training, inconsistent quality of products or services to your clients, employee stress, crisis management, and on and on. But since we can’t see a way that it will make us money today, we always find a way to put it off until “later” (psst… later never comes).

The key is to strike a proper balance between making money today (reacting to the Urgent), and BUILDING A BUSINESS that makes money down the road without me even being there (proactively taking care of the Important now, not “later”!). If you’re focused on the Urgent, you’re business will never grow up.

Next week we’ll talk about how to create the proper balance between these two so you can pay your bills today and ensure you are creating a business that makes money without you down the road. It’s not as hard as we make it (and it doesn’t take as long, either).

The 2nd Most Important Question in Business

When?

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain

Jeanne, a friend of mine who owns a corporate training company told me how she got started. Or actually didn’t.

She had all the plans, the syllabus, the locations. She was building a network, too, but couldn’t figure out how to actually get business. Then she went to a conference for HR professionals (her target market) – about 100 people showed up.

The moderator started the day by asking if anyone had any workshops, seminars, or events to announce, and if so, would they like to pass around a sign-up sheet. Jeanne didn’t have anything planned at the time, but realizing this was her best shot to reach 100 people in her target market, she took a yellow pad, made up an event title, put a date on it, and passed it around.

One guy signed up. Jeanne was disappointed in three ways: 1) One guy signed up, and 2) now she was committed to an event that she hadn’t planned and wasn’t ready to execute, and 3) she would likely lose money on the event.

Even though the event was only four weeks out, she ended up getting 18 HR pros to come and it was a big success. After a few months of going nowhere in her business, she had made a big splash and was on her way. Why?

Because she decided to do something, and more importantly, she put a date on it.

And she couldn’t weasel out of the date because others knew about it and were depending on her to follow through.

It is amazing what happens to us when a) we decide to do something, b) we put a date on it, and c) we go public with the date.

Know anyone who has been engaged for years? That’s because they decided to get engaged, not get married. When they actually decide to get married, they’ll put a date on it, and both of them will be changed forever.

Planning an event or setting a Waypoint in our business won’t change us like setting a date to get married, but you get the point. It will change you. Try it.

Get started. Create a Waypoint for increased sales, for firing your job and going out on your own, or replacing an employee, or an event for potential clients. Then put a date on it. Then make sure enough people know about it that you can’t weasel out. It will create a sense of urgency that will change the way you do business.

And check your “goals” and next years “business plan” for dates. “1st Quarter” is not a date. “2009” is not a date. Put specific dates on every action you plan to take, and watch what happens. For some it’s even a good idea to put a time of day on it. Even if the day/time is months away, you will see the clock ticking in your head when you do this.

“When” shouldn’t be such an unusual question in business, but there’s no secret as to why we avoid it. It actually makes us change, and we don’t like change, even when we’ll make more money in less time by changing. So we “make decisions” that aren’t decisions to avoid actually succeeding.

A decision is not a decision until we put a date on it. Until then, we’re just playing office.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain What are you stuck on? Put a date on it. Let other people know. It will change you and you will make more money in less time.

Next week we’ll hit the most important question in business.

Don’t Be a Mosquito in a Nudist Colony

Why Lifetime Goals are so important to what I do tomorrow, and why tomorrow is so important to my Lifetime Goals.

The mosquito in the nudist colony is thinking, “I know what to do, I just don’t know where to begin.” As business owners, we might have a similar experience, either not knowing where to begin, or not knowing what to do next to take our business to maturity. We have so little time – prioritizing what to do next is critical to our success.

How do we know what to do next? Frankly, there is no way to know unless we have the end game clearly in mind. Without it, we’re shooting a gun in the woods and calling it bear hunting. Or my favorite – “he who aims at nothing hits it every time.”

How do we understand the importance of tying each day to our future? If we focus on just today, we claim victories that are only imposters. If we focus too much on the future, we get fogged or discouraged by the lack of measurable progress today.

The key – always keep today’s action plans and our future Ideal Situation in clear view at the same time, and continuously make the connection between the two.

Here’s the progession that clearly gives us that connection:

  1. Lifetime Goals – what are the things I want to do the rest of my life that I can never check off? This is why I’m alive and why I do business. I’m using my business to get me to my lifetime goals. If I don’t know my Lifetime Goals, I’ve got no clue why I’m in business. Get clarity on your Lifetime Goals – it is foundational to understanding how today matters.
  2. Ideal SituationFYI – Retirement is a bankrupt idea. Don’t retire, just get into an Ideal Situation for living out your Lifetime Goals – it’s a lot more fun, meaningful, and purposeful. And you don’t have to wait until your 63. You can arrive at your Ideal Situation at 40 or much earlier if you’re intentional about it.

    Critical to escaping the Mosquito/Nudist Colony problem – WHEN do I want to be at that Ideal Situation? Pick an exact date and work toward it (he who aims at nothing…)

  3. Business Maturity Date – usually the same as your Ideal Situation. Pick it – work toward it.
  4. At maturity, what revenue does my business need to generate so I can buy my Ideal Situation in which I can best live out my Lifetime Goals?
  5. How much time and money do I need in my Ideal Situation? What kind of house, car, boat, plane will I need? Do I have a non-profit or am I working in one? Is travel important? What revenue does my business need to generate over the next 5 years to get me to my Ideal Situation? Over the next 3 years? Over the next year? Knowing this is a huge step toward knowing how today fits into the rest of my life.
  6. One-Page Business Strategy – what do I need to do the next 12 months to get closer to a mature business?
    1. Vision, Mission – the big picture for why I’m in business and what my mission is as a business person.
    2. Strategies – the ways in which I make money (building websites, developing ISP software, etc.) THREE YEARS
    3. Objectives – The measurable waypoints for the next 12 months, next 3 months, next month – 12 MONTHS
    4. Action Plans – The actual actions I need to take each week/month/quarter to get to the one year waypoint, on my way to developing a mature business, that can support my Ideal Situation, so I can focus on my Lifetime Goals. It all comes together here.

If we know our Lifetime Goals, those goals we can never check off, and most importantly, WHEN we want to be in our Ideal Situation for living out those lifetime goals, we can then back into what we need to be doing tomorrow to get there. If you don’t know what the end game looks like, what in the world are you doing in business in the first place?

Continuously connecting your daily activity and your Lifetime Goals is the key to clarity and to knowing if each day is counting. Don’t be a mosquito in a nudist colony. Know what to do, where to begin, and what to do next. Connect your daily activity to your Lifetime Goals and watch the fireworks begin.