My recent Half-Ironman event was a big success. I shaved about 20 mins off my time from the same race last year and continue to get better and stronger at the 3 disciplines (Swim, Bike, Run).
I cruising along on my run at about mile 7 when I saw my wife and daughter waiting to cheer me on. There is nothing better, after swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles, and being halfway through a 13.1, than seeing your family there rooting for you and cheering for you. It gives you 2nd, or maybe 3rd wind. I gave them a sweaty hug and thanked and them for supporting me as I ran in place for a minute. Everything was going great. Then my wife said, "Did you hear?" I said, "About what?" My wife quickly told me that a competitor that left on the bike a little while after I had started my ride got hit and killed by a vehicle.
In that moment, knowing I had to run another 6 miles, I didn't know what to do. All I could muster was an "Oh my gosh, what happened!" My wife didn't know, but she gave me a quick hug and told me to be careful.
As an Ironman competitor or any distance racing competitor, there are always dangers. We spend a lot of time running on roads, swimming in lakes or oceans, and biking for long distances on roads with traffic. The worst fear of our loved ones is us getting hurt or killed in a freak accident. And the last place anyone would expect this to happen is in a sanctioned Ironman race where everything is blocked off, paramedics, and race staff all around the course, and every safety precaution is taken.
After the race, I talked to a few of my race friends and no one really new the details. Later that day, we heard that biker had gone outside the blocked off area and was stuck - so it was their fault. But, they lost their life. I can't imagine that. You start a beautiful morning watching the sun come up, do a great mile + long swim and get on your bike to ride. You are in the best shape of your life. Things are great. Life is good.
Then, in one instant, with one decision, your life is over.
As I thought about it in the days that followed, it really hit home to me how precious every moment that we have is...and how all of take them for granted. Heck, I may have even talked to this person that morning wishing them a great race.
I know it is hard to cherish every single moment and take the perspective that every moment is precious in our daily lives as we go from home to work to the activities we do, but maybe we can stop and just really enjoy one moment each day and be thankful for it. Maybe we can choose one moment to truly make count or one action to make count each day. That wouldn't be too hard and our lives, and those of the lives around us would be better for it. Find a way to do that. Find a way to make at least one moment really count each day. I know I will.
When was the last time you a real reality check on your business? Maybe you are doing well and things are going great. Or maybe you've run into some challenges lately and are wondering what you may be doing wrong.
Either way, a good habit to get into each year is to get a fresh set of eyes on your business and get feedback to help you. You should bring someone in from the outside and have them do a top down analysis of your business.
Now, forgoing objections in your mind, such as, "I can do that, but they don't understand our business. They don't understand what we are going through and having to do. Coming in for a few hours is not enough time for them really understand and help us." There is some validity to the argument, but I would say that the feedback you will get outweighs the issue of them not knowing your business as well as you do.
Anytime you get feedback, there are elements of it that you will not use or are not accurate, but there is always something that you will. And that is what you are looking for. You are looking for the little diamond in the rough or that one of two things, or different ways of thinking that can make a huge difference in your business.
Look, I know it is hard to have someone tear apart your business and maybe challenge you about how your do things, but that is the point, right? If you never confront things and do things the way you've always done, you pretty much get the results you've always gotten. Your goal in this exercise is to expose the problems, the skeletons of things that you may have been willing to deal with and figure out how you will. The goal is always to get new advice and a different perspective that may cause you to look at things differently and grow.
So, get a reality check by an outsider at least once per year. It's one of the best ways to break your business out to new levels.
There is one thing that can make you more money than really anything else. It is a small thing that most people forget or do sparingly - and it can be the difference between business success and failure.
What I am talking about? Following up. Following on your sales. Following up on your partnerships. Following up on all areas of your business to make sure things get done. Follow up.
Most people follow up once, maybe, but the real fortune is found way down the line. In fact, according to the National Sales Executive Association:
Even if you cut those stats in half, the bulk of sales would still be made after the 3rd contact. How many times are you or your teams following up? Do you have a follow up strategy in place for your sales? How about for your customers?
Remember, the fortune is always in the follow up, so go our there and make yours!
One of the hardest lessons for most new business owners to learn is the difference between being cheap and being frugal. You can understand why. When a business owner finally starts making some money from the hard work in their business, they want to reap some of the benefits. They want to be paid for the hard work and sacrifice they have put in to that point.
This usually happens in the early stages of a business - within the first year or two. But, the big mistake that most young entrepreneurs or new business owners make is becoming cheap and not spending on the things that will really take their business to its next level. At this stage in a business, it is not the time to stop investing - it is the most important time to invest. A business owner in this stage must be frugal in that they don't waste money, but they spend it on the things that will give a large return in the future.
The other issue that must be watched is short term thinking. Many new or young entrepreneurs are only focused on the next month or two at this stage in their business and are not being strategic about what is needed to 2x, 5x, or 10x their business over the next year or two. You must remember to delay gratification at this stage and invest back into your company if you are in this position.
This one mistake can delay or ruin the growth of a business.
For example, if you are having some success and generating positive cashflow, but you are still doing all of the roles in your company, ie. trying to sell every client, run operations, manage cash, etc., you are going to do a bad job. You will be a jack of all trades and a master of none and your business will flounder. Instead, invest in a great salesperson or contractor and don't worry about paying them commission for their work - it will pay off 10 fold down the line. Or maybe you need some help with administration or getting all your processes and systems dialed in and documented (a critical key to success for a business), then bring in someone, whether a consultant for a period or an operations employee to help gets things dialed in. These are investments that will pay off, allow you to scale, and help you to make massive amounts of money. Don't be cheap and delay these investments.
Lastly, this is also the stage where you should be on the hunt for A-players to form your rockstar team...and almost inevitably one will come along during this time that will cost more than you think you can afford. This will stretch you and stress you, but my advice is get them on-board. To find true A-players that will be as excited and devoted to your business as you, is difficult. They are basically diamonds in the the rough. Figure out a way to get them on-board. If you can't pay the salary, work with them to find a way to compensate them less in the beginning and more over time or give them something they don't have currently (maybe a more flexible schedule or more vacation). Do whatever you can to find a way to get them involved because they will make a huge difference in the future of your business.
Always remember, that there is a difference between being cheap and being frugal. Don't be cheap. Invest in your business and your future, and the rewards will be exponentially more than the little bit your are trying to hold onto in the early stages of your business!
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