By Daniel C. Steenerson
Throughout the nation, there is a silent business killer lurking in entrepreneurs’ offices. This killer sucks the life out of goals and aspirations, rendering its victims ineffective. It’s a silent killer, because like cancer, many people who have the condition don’t even realize it exists.
Who is this formidable enemy? I call it professional attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Here’s the reality: We are constantly bombarded with distractions. Between instant messages, social media and email inboxes, it can be difficult to concentrate on anything for more than five minutes. What does this mean for small business owners and entrepreneurs? It means that it has become increasingly challenging to achieve business goals and long-term growth.
The story below illustrates how this enemy can sneak up on you:
In January 2013, Jennifer set a goal to increase her firm’s revenues by 20 percent in the coming year. To achieve this objective, she planned to close an additional 10 sales every month. To make that happen, she planned to update her website and brochure and hire another sales professional. She immediately started searching for a Web development partner and placed a recruiting ad. However, by the following week, Jennifer was so swamped by emails and phone messages that she failed to respond to website development proposals, and the stack of resumes in her inbox went untouched.
Flash forward three months: Jennifer still does not have a new website and she hasn’t hired a new sales professional. Despite the best of intentions, she made no progress toward achieving her goals. Instead, a quarter of her year is lost to squandered opportunity.
Sound familiar? Similar scenarios play out in businesses across the nation every day. We fail to reach our goals and achieve our dreams while we’re hard at work. Sadly, hard work is not enough. You have to work on the right things and stay focused to be effective.
If Jennifer is serious about achieving a 20 percent revenue increase, she should try this approach:
- Determine the numbers behind the goal. By using her sales team’s average monthly closing ratio and her average lead to quote ratio, she can calculate how many additional quotes and leads are needed to achieve the desired increase. Now, what’s the best next step?
- Evaluate resources. Jennifer has four sales professionals on the team, so for the sake of example, if her goal is to achieve 28 more quotes per month, each salesperson must generate seven. Sources for leads and quotes could include customer cross-sell, past customers, past declined quotes, and new incoming leads from a variety of advertising vehicles. What’s the best next step
- Determine the activity formula. What activities must be completed every day to get to 28 more quotes every month? What’s the best next step?
- Assess gaps. Once Jennifer completes the steps above, she will know if a new website and a new sales professional are really necessary. Before, she was just guessing at what it would take to achieve her goals. What’s the best next step
- The most important step: Measure, assess, and adjust. If something is important enough to be called a goal, it deserves a place on your calendar every day. If possible, reserve the first 30 minutes of each day for the practice of reviewing goals, supporting activities, and results, so you can quickly adjust the plan if needed. Constantly ask, “What’s the best next step?” Put processes in place so you can quickly measure your team’s activities and results on a daily basis. Your employees will pay attention if they know you’re paying attention.
Distractions are unavoidable but they don’t have to be fatal. If you can purposefully manage distractions and focus on driving goals forward, you will enjoy a formidable competitive advantage over those with professional ADD. Quick! Before you get distracted, schedule “goal focus” on your daily calendar.
Daniel C. Steenerson (@dansteenerson)imparts his success wisdom, principles and philosophies through his proprietary “Science of Visioneering” approach to help companies, entrepreneurs, executives and other professionals realize business greatness. He may be reached online at www.DanSteenerson.com–an online community where business owners, executives and other career achievement-minded professionals go for no-nonsense, “tell-it-like-it-is” success advice.