Chapter 2: From Problem to Success – How to Change
So what can you do to change yourself from a potential problem into a successful owner or CEO? First of all, let’s look again at what we have learned from all the businesses that have failed in the past, and let’s look at this closely.
The primary reason for this rate of failure is that 90% of small business owner’s, or CEO’s, simply lack the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed.
(Source: Dunn & Bradstreet)
In fact, a whopping 70% of failures are due to the owner not recognising or even ignoring weaknesses in the business. This is further exacerbated by not seeking help and not taking action when new information becomes available about how things can be fixed.
(Source: SCORE & US Bank)
The reasons for failure:
No. 1 – Lack of skills and knowledge
No. 2 – Not recognising or ignoring weaknesses
No. 3 – Not seeking help
No. 4 – Not taking action
All these failures are serious of course, but the most important failure, the most crucial to business success is No. 4 – Not taking action. You can have all the skill and knowledge in the world, you can know exactly what is wrong with your business, you can even know how to fix it, but if you do nothing, there will be no change.
Because taking action is so critical, I am going to concentrate on this first, and then we will introduce solutions for the other problems, but unless you take action, you are doomed to failure. You may find this statement negative and harsh, but it is true. Words without action mean nothing, solutions without implementation solve nothing, knowledge without application is useless.
Taking action requires that you find out how to motivate yourself to change.
The key word here is CHANGE. And the secret to instituting change lies in you compelling yourself to change. Just thinking that you need to change is not enough. You need to reach down inside yourself and find what is truly important, what you really care about and use that to drive yourself to action. When you know your own deep secret passions, you can use it to spur yourself into taking the necessary actions in your life and in your business to improve.
Why do you need to do this? Isn’t it enough to just want to change? Well, sometimes… but change goes against human nature. We like predictability and do not want to step outside the realm of our comfort zone into uncharted waters. We are often afraid. We fear the unknown. We fear the criticism of our family, friends and peers. We fear failure. However, if we know that by not changing we are headed for almost certain failure, we have the right reasons to take action.
Sometimes just the knowledge that most businesses fail because the owner or CEO fails to take action, can be enough to influence us to change, but we know statistically, this is only about 5% of the time. Do you want to count on being decidedly in the 5%, or do you want to tip the scales more in your favour and guarantee that you will make the changes necessary? To move yourself over onto the guarantee side, you need to be sure that you will take the actions necessary to make you and your business a success.
This requires massive leverage on your behaviour. This leverage is achieved through finding out what will motivate you to initiate action and what will continue to motivate you over time. What will absolutely insure that you will carry out the game plan that you set out to achieve? The answer to this question is not easy. One person’s motivations differ from another’s. You need to find your own unique catalyst. You may think finding your catalyst to action is simple, but often people find that what they think is important to them actually has little effect in forcing them to make a change. Remember, it takes massive leverage to sustain change over time. You need to find your passion. What excites you and makes you want to get up in the morning? These passions need to be identified and used to help you achieve your goals.
What Motivates You to Take Action?
Now, what do you really want? Project this thought into the future. What do you want in one year, five years, ten years and twenty years? You’ve probably thought about this a great deal already. It is usually the picture that you had in your mind when you first thought of your business. What is that image? Is it a fancy executive office on the top floor of a tall office building, or the vision of a large yacht with you and your family relaxing on the deck? It might just be a remote cabin in the country and an obscene amount of money piled up in a few banks somewhere. You may not have ever confessed it to anyone, but it is your fondest wish and the underlying expectation of what you have always dreamed your business could provide you.
The Passion Test
An additional way to help you decide what you truly want and what will ultimately motivate you to make it happen is the Passion Test. The Passion Test comes from the book of the same name by Janet and Chris Attwood. The Passion Test is simply a tool to help you determine your passions. This is what drives you, so it even comes before vision. You might have a vision to achieve certain things, but unless you are driven by your passions to achieve that vision, or choose a vision derived from your passions, you will find that you easily run out of the energy needed to reach that visionary goal.
So I highly recommend The Passion Test as a book, which provides the exercises that will help you get that process started.
Know What You Want – Setting Goals
“The #1 reason that people do not get what they want, is because they don’t know what they want” -T Harv Eker
The next step is to set the direction for your actions, or to set your goals. Taking action without a clear cut direction is not much better than taking no action at all so this is an important task. Use your passions to help set your direction and convert what you are passionate about into words. Put what you ultimately want as your long term over-riding goal, keeping in mind what drives you. This is your vision. You need to ask yourself such questions as:
How do you as the key person in your business see yourself?
What does your vision of the future look like?
What do you want to be able to do?
What do you want to be able to get out of your business?
This is slightly different from the vision for the business itself. The business will have a number of goals which we will get to later, but your goals, what you personally want to get out of it, are different. Your reasons will motivate and drive you to do what needs to be done in order for your company to reach its goals. That is why, what you want is so important.
Know yourself and exactly what you want and expect out of your life and your business. So many people enter into business and spend years in that environment without having any idea of what they want, or what it is possible to get out of their business. Many business owners even put their personal lives on hold, ignoring their family and other aspects of their life for the sake of their business. “I’m doing this for you…” is a common reply to complaints that you are not spending enough time with your loved ones.
In fact, most business owners are working so hard in their businesses that they don’t have time to work on them. As a result, they’ve become slaves to their business. It’s all backwards. They’re working for their business and their family is sacrificing for their business rather than their business working for them and providing a great lifestyle.
Take the time to carefully analyse where you’ve come from, where you are now, and what you want to accomplish in your life and in your business. Then begin to set some meaningful goals to help you accomplish your objectives. I have included some exercises to help you set your goals at the end of this chapter. If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll have no idea of what to do in order to get there.
Meaningful goals are an essential requirement for success in your personal life and in your business. With goals, you have a target to aim for, a purpose for being, and a direction to travel. Without goals, it’s easy to wander aimlessly, getting sidetracked with any little thing that comes along. It is also easy to leave out important aspects of your life so that you have no balance between work and your personal life.
When you set your goals, think of the word, “SMART.” You should have SMART goals. That is, your goals should be:
It is important for your goals to be Specific, so you will know exactly what you’re shooting for. Your goal should be clearly defined and identified so you not only know what you are trying to accomplish, you’ll also know when you achieve it.
Just to say you want more free time to spend with your family, or that you want to sell more products, merchandise or services or reduce the number of contacts to close a sale isn’t enough. You need to clearly specify your goal. Is it two hours of spare time per day to spend with your family, or 12 more sales per month? A weekend away with family, or an extra $100,000 in monthly sales? How about a certain amount of certain types of products or services? How much – specifically?
Whatever your goal, there should be no doubt about what you wish to accomplish.
Your goals should be Measurable. That is, there should be a system, or method of determining how you are progressing in your efforts for attainment. By clearly defining your goals as discussed in the previous step, you will be more able to measure them. It’s important for you to be able to see your current status, as well as progression towards your goals.
Next, your goals should be Attainable. If your goal is too high, if there’s no hope for you to reach it, it won’t take long for you to become discouraged. You will either lose the concentration and drive necessary to pursue your goal, or you will abandon it altogether. Then, because of your negative image of yourself relative to setting goals, you will likely give up setting goals in the future. It’s a self-fulfilling mechanism.
Therefore, your goal should be something you can reach with just a little extra effort.
The key to being good at setting and achieving goals is to be realistic in your expectations. Set attainable and realistic goals that can be reached with a small amount of effort. That builds a success image, and enhances your self confidence in a positive way. Then, the next time, set a little higher goal. Not much higher, just a little higher. Again, one that you know you can achieve. And that adds on to, and builds your confidence, that much more.
The next step is to make your goals, Timebound. That is, you should set a time limit for their attainment. This helps you keep on target, not be distracted, and encourages you to complete something you’ve started. Not only will this help you to realise success at a pre-designated time, but you will enhance your self-image by accomplishing your goal.
Say for instance, your goal is to take your family on vacation this year for the first time since you’ve gone into business. To make it easier, break that goal down into what you can do each month, each week, and even each day, if necessary. A large goal becomes much more manageable in small pieces. The key is to break specific goals into attainable and measurable bite-size pieces, and place a time deadline on them, for their accomplishment.
Focusing on Your Goals
One secret to implementing real change and reaching your goals is simply focusing on something. The more you focus on something, the greater chance you have of achieving it. So an important personal quality that you need to develop is the ability to focus. Many people hesitate to go into business because they think they lack the talents and abilities necessary to succeed. They look at others who are successful and think that they must have unique talents or capabilities. That is seldom the case. The main difference is that the successful person has developed the ability to focus. A person of average intelligence, who is focused on a clearly identified and specific goal, will consistently outperform the brightest people who are not focused on anything specific.
Law of Attraction
You may have heard of the movie called “The Secret.” It was produced by an Australian woman named Rhonda Burn. What the secret really highlighted is the Law of Attraction. The idea behind this “law” comes from the book called “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D. Wattles. An interpretation of this law is that, if you focus hard on something, often as not it will come to be. It is not magic and you will find that if you focus on something and say: “This is what I want. Here is what I want and I can see it; almost touch it,” and you continue to focus on it and you continue to do things that help you progress towards it, you will get it. That is my interpretation of the Law of Attraction.
However, you cannot just sit there and meditate and visualize something and have it magically appear; that is not going to work. What the movie failed to convey is that the hard focus must be accompanied by action. Focusing on what you want will reveal opportunities by which you might achieve your goal, but only by actually doing something about it will that goal be realized.
Looked at this way, the Law of Attraction is really powerful. The key is: know what you want, visualize exactly how you want it and then, when opportunities come up that help you progress towards getting what you want, take them. It is as simple as that.
Take Action Exercises
Throughout this book there are going to be exercises that I want you to do. It is very important to get the thinking out of your head and committing to paper. Just that simple process puts you far in front of most people and greatly increases the probability that you will actually do something. This is the first step toward real change, so decide now that you are going to make that change. Remember, just wanting something is not enough if you are going to contribute to the solution and not be a potential problem for your business, you need to take ACTION. So commit to going through the rest of this book and doing the exercises. Try them out, test them out and see what happens. You’ll be really surprised how well it works.
So grab a piece of paper and pen now and start the process.
Exercise 1 – 101 Goals
The first exercise that I recommend for helping you to determine your goals comes from Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield. It is called the 101 goals. Goals encompass the things you want to achieve, the person you would like to be, the experiences you would like to have, and the things you would like to own. The exercise is to simply write down those 101 goals.
Some might do this easily in a day, others it will take a little longer. It doesn’t matter; the idea is to get a focus on what it really is that you want out of life and are passionate about. I heard Jack Canfield explain this exercise. “Without a doubt,” he said, “anyone who does this exercise is forced to think about what they want and why.” Not only that, he also said that the majority of those 101 things listed were often able to be achieved in a relatively short period of time simply because they had been written down and focused on.
Remember the Passion Test. For a goal to have a truly motivating influence, it must excite you at a very primitive level. If you have the image in your mind of cruising the world in your own yacht and relaxing on the deck in exotic locations, you will not be motivated by the goal of having a penthouse office in a fancy office building. You will not be motivated to work hard for something that you don’t really want.
By the simple act of writing down 101 goals, the sheer number will also go a long way toward revealing what you truly want.
Exercise 2 – 90 day Goal Focus
Your next exercise will put those 101 goals into action. Pick three goals that you can measure, three goals that you are able to achieve, say, in the next 90 days. These are goals for you. They are not goals for the company, so choose ones that are exciting to the point that the thought of working on them motivates you. Write them down on a separate paper that you can carry with you and then make sure that you look at those goals every single day for the next 90 days and spend at least 20% of your day working and achieving those goals.
Successful people are the ones who do things. All the thinking, talking, and planning comes to nothing without execution. That is what really counts, and I believe in that so strongly that there is a chapter all about execution.
This last exercise illustrates one of the basic tenets of this book. Don’t believe anything, even what is said in this book, until you have tested it. If you like that result and you think that it is heading in the right direction then continue to do it.
So pick three goals, just three. Look at them everyday and spend 20% of your day making sure that you are doing something to get those goals going.
I would put it to you now that you have a great chance that you will achieve those goals well before the 90-day mark.
Exercise 3 – The 3 Circles
The 3 Circles is simply a Venn diagram, an interlocking three circles you see on this page. You will see that all three of them interconnect in the middle at what I call the switch spot.
Write the particular things that you do or would like to do in each of the circles. In the first circle, write down all the things that you could be passionate about. Now notice I said, “Could be.” There will be things that you definitely are passionate about, but there are also things that you could be passionate about, but aren’t quite sure yet.
In the next circle, write down the things that you are good or best at.
In the last circle, write down the things that drive you to earn more money.
You can see what is going to happen here. If you can find the area of overlap between what you are passionate about, what you are good at, and what will make money, you will quickly begin to see how you should be shaping your business life. This may not be done quickly, but it is something you can come back to over and over with different ideas until something clicks. You will see that this is quite a powerful exercise.
Exercise 4: Self-Esteem Boost
It is a given that the more successful you are, the more successful you probably will be. Success breeds success. But what starts the process; what is the secret? You must have a goodly portion of high self-esteem right from the beginning. It works like this. Those with high self-esteem generally take more risks, and if you take more risks, you try more things and have a greater statistical chance of being successful at some of them. Those with low self-esteem, those who fear failing or fear what others might say about them, may not fail because they never do anything to fail at. Unfortunately, you can’t manufacture high self-esteem out of thin air, so how do you come by it?
A gentleman by the name of Bill Bartman, a billionaire in the US, suggests a simple exercise to make you begin to feel better about yourself and your accomplishments. Most everyone has a range of things that they have accomplished in their life that they feel good about. Right from the earliest school days, through your working and social life there are things your have done that give you a sense of pride. Take the time now to write down a list of what you have accomplished in your life. Keep that list handy and look at it every now and again just to remind yourself that you have accomplished these things. That simple exercise will make you feel better. If you feel better, it will help to improve your self-esteem.