For many of us it’s easy to remember what to do when we’re out on the road and suddenly have car trouble:
When you have a sentence or phrase where all the words start with the same letter it’s called a tautogram and this literary technique can serve as a fantastic memory aid. With that – and the incredible success of AAA over the years – let me give you an “AAA” tautogram that can be key to sustainable business success:
If you keep these things top of mind as you build your business, you’re going to find yourself well on your way to success. And let me take it one step further, as you surround yourself with others, be sure they score highly in these areas. One glance at this list and you see that they are more about the way people are wired than what they have learned. People with a reasonable amount of intelligence can pick up skills, but having the right DNA to be a member of a successful team isn’t something you can teach, very quickly or easily, at least.
New research hits the headlines almost every day that connects our attitudes to our health, happiness and ability to succeed. Sometimes these are scientific studies conducted with the utmost care for statistical relevance, sometimes it’s simply sage advice, like the 107-year-old woman who said the secret to living so long was to not complain.
As we’ll see in the “Action” section, an unflappable “can do” attitude is critical for business success. However, it’s not always easy to maintain this kind of positive attitude. Sometimes it needs our careful nurturing. Let’s talk about some more components of your attitude that are necessary for business success.
Being passionate about what you are doing is critical. Without passion, devoting the energy required for sustainable success is impossible. Consider these two reasons people may decide to found their own business.
In our first scenario, the founder has a vision of doing something better than everyone else in the marketplace, or meeting a need that is yet unmet or poorly met. In our second scenario, the founder is tired of taking marching orders from someone else. This founder is searching for independence.
Which of these founders will have enough passion to create a sustainable business? It is certainly a possibility with both, but if you’re just trying to get out from under a boss you don’t like, or your ego won’t let you work for someone else, there’s a good chance your passion will fade.
There will be times when you think the game is over. When you hear successful entrepreneurs describe their journey, there are almost always one or more “near-death” experiences when they wondered how they were going to make payroll.
In the day-to-day operations of your startup and somewhat in the bigger, over arching picture as well, you need to have the flexibility to pivot when necessary. You also need to have the flexibility to recognize and act on suggestions from others when they are better than your ideas.
It’s an interesting paradox: you need to be committed to your vision, but not so stuck on the small details that you won’t take advice from someone else to achieve your desired end results.
Be a doer. The only way you learn is by doing. I was listening to a podcast the other day where the interviewer was asking questions of a guy who had built and sold a very successful tech startup. The person asking the questions kept probing for some “actionable advice” for his listeners, i.e. what little secret bit of knowledge did this successful entrepreneur have that would benefit listeners.
The answer the entrepreneur gave was almost the same every time: He didn’t have any secret advice. He tried something and it failed, so he tried something else and eventually he found the thing that worked. If he had a secret it was this: Learn from repeated failures and don’t be afraid to keep trying.
As I alluded to above, a “can-do” attitude needs to be coupled with a willingness to take action. These actions can fall into a wide variety of categories. For example, when you find out that someone on your team is proving to be counterproductive, you need to let the person go and move on.
Successful people regret their failures, but they don’t dwell on them. If Pete Rose would have admitted to his personal failures on day one, he could have moved on in his life and he would probably be in the Baseball Hall of Fame today. Failures and mistakes in your startup won’t kill it, but becoming paralyzed by the possibility of failure will.
Now we’ll veer away from taking a personal inventory and offer some specific advice to help you grow your business. The automation advice presented here will be useful for establishing your business, making it more productive and increasing sales.
Do you know why a cat arches its back when it feels threatened? It does this to appear larger than it really is. It’s a common defense mechanism in nature and it’s a good tactic to use when you’re establishing or growing your business.
There are a variety of ways you can make your business appear larger than it is, and some of these can be automated. This can be as simple as setting up a virtual phone system that creates “extensions” for a variety of departments in your company. They may all route to the same person, but when a prospect calls it makes your startup look bigger and more established than it really is. There are a number of providers for this service.
We’ve said that you need passion, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stupid about things. Even the most passionate person can burn out. Automate tasks to boost your productivity and rid you or headaches. As a founder or small business owner, you find yourself in a lot of meetings. Why not automate the scheduling of these meetings?
Services like Doodle can liberate you from being the go-to meeting scheduler. And if you’re in a service industry where your clients need to make appointments, try something like Timetrade to get it done. And while we’re automating time-related tasks, here’s one more for you: Do you wish you had a business coach to help you make better use of your time? They’re expensive, but the automation provided by RescueTime varies from free to cheap. And while you’re at it, there are a range of automated tools you can use to measure the productivity of your team.
Finally, let’s talk about customer relationship management software or CRM. This is a favorite topic in cyberspace and there is one reason for that: Cloud-based services like Infusionsoft and several others can dramatically enhance the ability of your business to make sales. But if you don’t have the money to start out with a service like that, more simple, and less expensive automation options, like MailChimp WorkFlows can serve your business well.
Maintain your focus on the AAA formula – attitudes, actions, and automation – and you’ll find that managing your business for sustainable growth becomes easier.
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