“ACTION IS THE FOUNDATIONAL KEY TO ALL SUCCESS.” -Pablo Picasso
In mid-January, our area prepared for an ice storm compared to nothing we had seen since 1993. I don’t remember the ice storm of 1993, but it must have been bad as they were predicting a ½- to ¾-inch of ice in this storm, a very disruptive amount. A disruptive ice storm is typically one of ¼- to ½-inch of ice accumulation. This amount of ice starts to damage trees and power lines. As a matter of fact, a ½ inch accumulation on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight.
Having an action plan around this ice storm was important to my survival success, as I am responsible for a very famous horse, two rabbits and three dogs. Our daughter came home so I had to make sure she was safe too. With all that in mind, Bob got an electrician to set up a generator wired to the house for basic power, we (along with everyone else in St. Joe) went to the grocery store and got enough food to last at least a week. We bought every heated blanket and small heater they had left at Target, and I slept on the couch so I would hear the storm hit. I did this for three nights. The ice never came. Was all this action a waste of time or did it have value?
We don’t ever expect to have to deal with an ice storm, a flood or a tornado but when they do happen, the difference between life and death is often determined by how prepared we are for action and how much of a plan we have. The same is true in business.
Here are three easy steps to ensure you maximize the value of your business with planned action.
Pick Your Three “Focus Areas” – Focus Areas are the most important areas for your business to spotlight, the areas that will really help you develop your business. Stick with no more than three, as too many priorities mean you have no top priorities. Sure, you’ll still have to take care of your company’s day-to-day operational needs, but focusing on a few key chunks will actually produce value for your company. Potential focus areas could be:
- Increasing your lead flow
- Improving your sales conversion system
- Speeding up your collections cycle
- Making a key hire
- Developing a new product
Define Success for Each of Your Three Focus Areas – generally, you should pick criteria of success that you have control over (or, at the very least, you have a great deal of influence over). It’s important to look for criteria that are as objectively and quantitatively measurable as possible. Pick one “Key Performance Indicator” to track. Your KPI for each Focus Area gives you a yardstick against which to measure progress as you go. By laying out your criteria of success for each Focus Area, you’ll have clear clues for what action steps you need to take.
Lay Out Your Key Action Steps and Milestones – the final step is to lay out the key action steps you need to take and milestones you need to reach to accomplish success for each Focus Area. Try to break down each Focus Area into five to seven action steps. For each action step, pick a team member to be responsible for executing the step by a definite date.
Remember, action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.