In his new book Grow 3X, management consultant and NZBusiness marketing columnist Logan Wedgwood shares the lessons and strategies he has learnt at the sales coalface and through working with large and small businesses to enhance their performance.
In Grow 3X Wedgwood teaches you how to how to:
- Maximise your strengths.
- Set goals and achieve them.
- Build habits that will help you grow your business with certainty.
- Implement sales strategies that work.
- Maintain momentum and enhance your productivity.
The following is an extract from the book – reproduced with permission:
THE SECRET SAUCE FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
By now you have probably established your own thoughts about what leads to success in life. But what are your thoughts on what it takes to be successful in business? How do these differ? As Confucius says: ‘It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.’ To me, that sums up the game of business pretty well.
Would you agree that momentum could play a critical part in your business’s success?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could create a business that grew on its own without the need for inputs from you? A self-perpetuating business sounds pretty good to me, but you are probably sceptical about that, and rightly so. Many people dream of owning a selfperpetuating business, but few achieve it. You might be thinking ‘Can this really work for my business?’
Let’s consider for a moment that momentum in business is cumulative. As you continue to build momentum within your business, your cumulative effort accelerates the velocity at which momentum is generated and your success increases further. This means that the key to generating momentum and turning your business into a self-perpetuating machine comes down to your consistent efforts. As you apply your consistent efforts, you gain velocity. You start growing and creating opportunities for more sales, and increased revenues follow. If you are consistent — if you do the right things, the right way, at the right time and you do not stop — then success will follow.
What, then, can you do today to start generating momentum?
Let’s look at the practical things you can do. The right things you can do, the right way, at the right time. It starts with showing everyone on your team that you know exactly where you are taking this business.
CREATING A POWERFUL VISION
It all starts with a vision. A clear and compelling vision is a powerful way to show everyone in your business (even if it is just you) where the company is going and what you are trying to achieve. A powerful vision can help you win and retain talent. It also makes the journey more exciting, and your customers end up being excited by your achievements, too. This sense of excitement breeds momentum.
My favourite mental image of a business person who knows where they are going stems from a throwaway comment from Elon Musk, one of my favourite entrepreneurs. He said, ‘I want to die on Mars. And hopefully not on impact.’ Let’s dissect this a little. A vision in business terms is commonly accepted as somewhere you want to be in the future. Elon Musk is currently on planet Earth, and his vision for his company SpaceX is to successfully land on Mars and be one of the ﬁrst companies to colonise another planet. In fewer than 12 words, he communicated his powerful vision: to successfully land on planet Mars within his lifetime. If that isn’t a fantastic way to communicate a powerful vision, I don’t know what is.
I guess many of us could sit there and say, ‘Yeah, well, we aren’t all trying to ﬂy to Mars, are we?’ So, let’s paint a picture the other way around. Imagine looking back in 10 years’ time and saying: ‘Wow, we really did it! We got here . . .’ What does that future look like? Where are you? What measure of success did you ﬁnd yourself talking about? This tells you what your wildest dreams are right now. What do you yearn for? Have you told anyone?
My wife is always saying she told me this, that or the other; some event I was supposed to be at, or some chore around the house I was supposed to do. I’m sure she just says she told me when it suits her, because she knows I have no responding argument, and it is quite likely I was miles away in my head. But nonetheless, she insists she said it. Does that mean it was communicated? Just because she said it? Did I acknowledge that I received it? Was I able to repeat it back to her? Did she check I understood? Did she put a Post-it note on the thing or add it to my calendar? Did she call to remind me?
I know this is starting to sound ridiculous, but let me put it in another context: everyone in your organisation needs to know where you are leading them and what you are trying to achieve, and telling them once at the company conference or ﬁnancial-year meeting isn’t going to do it. It must be visible. You must repeat it again and again. Keep harping on about where your company is going until you get there. Make sure the person on the lowest rung of your ladder can tell you what your vision is. Only when everyone in your organisation can tell you what the vision is, and only then, have you communicated it well.
Sales is one area of business where strong inspiration genuinely helps achievement. Salespeople are generally easily motivated, and tend to get behind company visions when they know what piece of the vision they own. When they are excited about what the company is trying to achieve, this enthusiasm ﬂows into their daily habits and attitudes. You will ﬁnd overwhelming evidence that the salespeople in visionary companies are much more successful than salespeople in companies lacking a clearly communicated vision.
Share your vision and use it to ignite your results.
SETTING GOALS AND EXECUTING ON THEM — STRATEGY
Once you are clear on your vision, the next step is strategy: the way you will move towards your vision. Having a clear sales strategy is an essential part of building momentum; it is the foundation from which you will move forward, and the fuel that is going to propel you there.
Strategy, in its essence, is simple. It is the allocation of resources to achieve a goal. However, you have limited human resources, limited ﬁnancial capital, and most importantly a ﬁnite amount of time. Therefore, part of strategising is deciding what not to do. This concept is powerful. Consider it this way: doing the wrong things is a very effective — in fact sure-ﬁre — way to lose momentum. Or you might feel like you are going somewhere, but it is not forwards — you are heading off in another direction altogether. The wrong things are taking your focus away from the activities that are essential for you to build positive momentum.
Strategy, both in your personal life and your business, is essentially what you want to achieve, how you will make certain decisions, and how you will deploy your limited resources to achieve your goals. So, let’s make some decisions about what you want to achieve.
Napoleon Hill is famous for his ground-breaking book Think and Grow Rich. As part of his research, he interviewed 500 top CEOs and business leaders. Despite their being some of the most iconic business people of the day, he found that none of them had any particular natural advantage that set them apart from the other business leaders of the time. They weren’t smarter or faster, and they didn’t come from better backgrounds. Instead, the biggest difference between them and many others who were less successful was that they had very speciﬁc and measurable goals. You can only work towards what you have decided to aim at. Less successful CEOs and business leaders had failed to set clear goals, and their results reﬂected this shortcoming.
By now you have probably come across the SMART goal concept — Speciﬁc, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. While it is an effective method of goal-setting, I like to simplify it even further. I prefer this formula as a ﬁrst point of reference when deciding on an ambitious goal or objective:
From what to where by when?
This method is beautiful in its simplicity. You are taking an honest and holistic look at where you are currently (the what), a detailed look at where you want to be at the end of the journey (the where), and — here is the key — by what date (the when). This paints a picture that is easy to grasp quickly, and has a hard deadline. It is timebound.
You can have all the goals, strategies and intentions in the world, but they are a waste of space if you can’t break them down into executable tasks with clear accountability. Breaking goals into smaller tasks so they are executable is actually very easy, and yet this is also where most businesses fall down. The key is accountability and transparency. There is no point having accountability if it isn’t transparent, there for everyone to see. There are no repercussions of a failure to meet accountable tasks if they are able to be hidden away or buried. Progress is lost to the unknown. If a business assigns the tasks to the team, and the team helps the business reach its goals, when you or your team accepts this responsibility you have a contract.
All you need now is measurable progress and visibility. This way, what counts as delivery on a task is clear, and any conversations about missed deadlines or failures are much easier to have. (And most of the time these hard conversations don’t even need to happen, because everyone knows where they stand.) There might be genuine, understandable reasons why someone has failed to achieve their task, in which case the business can throw resources at helping the person get things back on track. But the person is still accountable for communicating and driving this process. No more losing progress to the unknown.
Sun Tzu said in the book The Art of War, ‘Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.’ When you hear this quote at the right time (likely when you are facing a strategic challenge and you are desperate to take action), it will hit you like a tonne of bricks, as it hit me when I really heard the quote for the ﬁrst time.
I was frantically working across a couple of businesses that I have a stake in, and I had a vested interest in making sure they all got results. I had to keep driving these results, and I felt frantic. I had so many spinning plates I didn’t feel like I could stop. However, all I was doing was making a lot of noise; I had taken my eye off the long term, and lost sight of the big picture. Instead of working towards clear strategic goals, I was busy trying to create results every which way I turned, blinded by tactical manoeuvres. I couldn’t see the change I needed to make because of how ‘busy’ I was. There was a lot of ‘doing’, but perhaps not quite enough ‘thinking’ — well, at least not at the right level.
Business people often make the mistake of thinking tactically and leaping into action, thus forcing themselves into reacting to what is in front of them. Instead of rushing, take a breath, take a moment, and think about your end goal. Imagine the path to getting there. Know where you are going, and what could stand in your way. Then plan your tactics, your actions, and go get that goal. You must have the bigger picture clear in your mind if you want to succeed in fast-changing environments.
For more reading on setting strategy within your business, I highly recommend Awesomely Simple by John Spence. John is a colleague of mine who has the fantastic ability to make complex issues simple and, even better, achievable. John’s book covers the six key strategies for achieving business excellence, which he identiﬁes as vivid vision, best people, robust communication, a sense of urgency, disciplined execution, and extreme customer focus. John also believes that the four biggest issues for many business leaders are a lack of well-communicated vision, a lack of courageous communication, toleration of mediocrity, and the poor execution of key plans. If these ideas resonate with you, and driving action through vision is either a current focus or a challenge for your business, then I really encourage you to read Awesomely Simple.
Exercise: Setting goals
Start by taking some time out to sit and reﬂect on what your business’s performance is now, and where you want it to be in the future. What does this desired future performance look like?
Next, write down some of the goals that you would like to achieve over the next three years. This list is your starting point. A three-year horizon is usually a good starting point, as it is long enough to get some things done but short enough that they won’t necessarily become obsolete within the fast-changing reality of modern business.
Consider realistic timelines for achieving each goal, then write these down as deadlines.
Now the real challenge begins. Cull your list to the three goals that are most likely to grow your business. By this we mean the strategic goals that will have the greatest effect on growing your sales. For example, you might want a three-year marketing target for the number of leads you want to generate, or you may want to win the business of ﬁve marquee clients. Focus on goals that you can clearly see will grow your business, and make sure they are grounded in reality.
FROM WHAT TO WHERE BY WHEN
Once you are clear on the end goals, make sure you are absolutely committed to them. We don’t want wishes. Or wishy-washy statements of intent. These goals need to be big enough that it scares you a little, but still achievable so that when times get tough you will continue to push through. These aren’t goals that you simply change in two months’ time because you feel like doing something else.
Next, break the goals down into tasks that you can get done in the next 90 days. Again, they need to be big enough that you have to hustle to get things done, but not so daunting that you don’t know where to start.
Assign the tasks to the accountable individuals, and gain their agreement on milestones and delivery. Make the tasks and accountability visible and transparent across the company. Then keep tabs on progress and milestone delivery at pre-agreed points in time.
It is super important to review how things went once you reach deadline. Whether or not you make the deadline, what happened? What worked well? What didn’t go so well? Are there ways you can manage things better next time around? It is not a witch hunt for laying blame — it is an exercise to explore the overall approach, and to prepare to do things differently and/or better if required.
Visit www.grow3x.com for the ebook version. Grow 3X is also available through booksellers from 8 March.