Last Thursday evening, I was the guest of a group of therapists who interviewed me about how I’ve built my businesses over the years – both my therapy offices and my coaching business. Their probing, and very pointed, questions dramatically helped me clarify exactly what strategies have worked for me and my clients over the years. I hope you enjoy it. It is as solid and tight a summary of what has worked for me over the years as anything I’ve ever written. I’m quite proud of it, at least as an accurate reflection of what has worked for me.
1. Clarify the vision. Many of us have a tendency to be lazy about defining exactly what we want and where we want to be in a few years. Set your course as clearly as you can! A vague desire to “Work less and make more money” may be a comfortable day-dream, but it is not a success strategy!
2. Turn the vision into a mission. Once you know where you want to go, you have to be clear, get passionate, get DETERMINED to arrive! Develop a series of vital reasons, personal motivators, personal drivers that pull you forward. Why are you doing what you do? If you only want to make money, get a job! (It’s easier!) What’s your driving purpose?
3. Get a mentor. Hire a coach or create a frequent, steady, EFFECTIVE working relationship with someone who has been where you want to go, or perhaps more importantly, has a proven ability to help others get there. (Great sports coaches don’t have to be great athletes! But they do have to know the game and be experts at helping their athletes win!)
4. Get a map and a compass! Develop a detailed, specific working plan. Work with your coach on this, and write it down! It doesn’t have to be long and detailed, but it does have to make sense, and it has to give you direction and purpose for getting from where you are, to where you want to be. It should be detailed enough to tell you precisely what to do first, each Monday morning.
5. Improve the plan whenever possible. There is a contradiction here. Use and trust your plan, and rely on it! At the same time, life will give you unexpected opportunities, sudden short-cuts, and amazing possibilities. Be ready at any moment to jump on a “real” opportunity, but be very cautious about running off on every whim or impulse. How do you know the difference? Check with your coach!
6. Hang-out with talented people. Pick up the phone and introduce yourself to people who have achieved want you want to achieve. Read about them, get on their mailing lists or take classes from them. If they don’t teach, develop a class and invite them to be your guest expert! But find people who are walking on the same, or a similar, path to your own, and follow in their footsteps, or walk beside them, or encourage them to catch up with you. Success loves company!
7. Work very hard. Again, there is a contradiction here. To achieve a high level of success takes an ability to play very hard, sometimes for a long time. If you’ve defined your vision accurately, the distinction between “work” and “play” will begin to blur, and you’ll find yourself willing (eager!) to work a lot. It takes sustained, efficient, focused effort to achieve great things. I know of no short-cut.
8. Keep good records! This means accurate accounting, a personal journal of what works and why, notes about your best customers and the coolest things your competitors are doing. Jot down ideas, keep track. Especially, monitor the money.
9. Work smarter everyday! I think the biggest single thing in my success is that my family has no history of being in business, and even making money is a bit “suspect”, but they LOVE learning! Early on, they taught me that everything I could ever need or want in life was in the local library. Learn from the competition. Learn how they did it 100 years ago! Read “Wired” and “Fast Company” to see how it might be done next year. Take the best, and leave the rest.
10. Always be planning your “next” million dollars. Whatever you’re doing today is already becoming obsolete. By the time you read the book or attend the seminar, someone has already found a “better, faster, cheaper” way to do it. Always be looking over the horizon, seeking the next opportunity and figuring out how to incorporate it into what you already have and love. Keep growing!