Transforming Your Business with a Single Question
As the year winds down, it’s time to do an honest assessment of where you are in your business in light of where you want to be. This will put you in the best position to start planning for 2024.
The key to achieving the best results is to use the two P's—purpose and priorities. When you identify you goal (your purpose) and align your priorities accordingly, this has the power to transform your business.
Ask the Focusing Question
You may be familiar with Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams, the largest real estate sales company in the world. Here are some great ideas I learned from his writings on how to put these principles into practice.
Step one is to ask the “focusing question.” The focusing question is this “What is the one thing I can do to create the most leverage to accomplish the greatest results?”
To illustrate this concept, think of a line of dominos. When you topple the first domino, all the other dominoes (goals, projects, actions) fall naturally one after the other. Identify the right first domino and the rest of your priorities will fall into place. Focus on the wrong domino (or focus on nothing at all) and you’ll end up wasting time. The focusing question helps you identify the first domino.
How to Grow Revenue by $1 Million
Say your goal is to grow your revenue by $1 million in 2024. You could pick up the phone and just start making more calls—to prospects, active customers, and even inactive customers to try to re-engage them—to see if there are additional opportunities to make a sale. In doing so, you end up pursuing a lot of different directions at once hoping that one of them will work out.
Or you could ask a focusing question instead: What is my best opportunity to add $1 million in business? For every distributor, the answer may be different. Say you decide that you want to focus on jobs that provide recurring revenue. Now, instead of taking the scatter approach, you focus only on identifying those applications and customers to which you can sell jobs that repeat on a regular basis.
Let’s say Distributor A has been successful selling durable labels into a wide variety of accounts. Then he notices that many of his customers have warehouse operations and identifies the opportunity to sell RFID labels to help their warehouses maximize efficiency and accuracy. These labels are highly repeatable and have a high profit margin.
Now, instead of coming into the office and making random phone calls, he makes a list of vertical markets and companies within those markets that are the best prospects for RFID warehouse labels. He researches each of those companies and develops a plan for approaching each one. He takes the time to understand the company’s operations, where its challenges and opportunities lie, and identifies the right decision-maker to approach with ideas.
Another distributor might come up with a different answer to the same focusing question. Maybe, based on her experience, current accounts, and interests, the answer is to focus on prime labels. Or maybe she decides her current product mix is highly profitable, so the answer is to focus on the most profitable and high-volume accounts instead.
5 Simple Next Steps
Whatever the answer to your focusing question, your next steps are simple:
Put your goal in your calendar and commit to taking steps toward that goal every day.
- Consider which domino will start the sequence of action. For example, if you decide to focus on selling RFID labels, not every business with a warehouse is going to be the “right” customer for these products. Therefore, the first domino might be making a list of prospects with warehouses large enough and with product lines diverse enough and with sufficient value for RFID labels to make sense.
- Give yourself a scheduled time block to work on this goal. During that time block, focus exclusively on the task at hand. (Otherwise, the day evaporates, and you’re left thinking, “That was quite a day! I got nothing strategic done.”)
- Determine how you will handle orders that come in that are outside your area of focus. If you have decided to focus on prime labels and someone asks to place a business card order, will you take the order as a service? Or will you pass the business along to someone else?
- Be willing to say “no” to things during your allocated time block. If this means leaving things which might never get done, that’s OK. Make peace with knowing that you must often sacrifice work on the small things to focus on the one big thing that will lead to the big results.
This strategy will take practice, so continually evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. For example, if you still find yourself distracted and ineffective, are you working on too many details which do not matter? If you cannot eliminate those details, then delegate them. If you can’t delegate them, schedule them to do at a different time. Can’t seem to find enough time? Consider waking up earlier to work on your most important priority before the normal workday begins.
Success happens when you focus on your most important priority to the exclusion of all others. So ask the focusing question. Once you come up with your answer, schedule pursuing the first “domino” as a priority each and every day. Then watch and see how your business transforms!