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Build a profitable business- the baby steps part 18

Take action. Ideas are cheap. Action is priceless. The difference between a million-dollar idea and just an idea is that a million-dollar idea requires action. Action is what makes ideas valuable. Without action the idea is just a brief moment in history, irrelevant to anybody else. But if you act upon your idea and move forward, you set the forces of the universe in motion. Lady luck adores men of action. In fact all the lucky bastards you have read about in the business section of your newspaper of choice have one thing in common: at one point in their life they decided to take massive, determined and irrevocable action. And as soon as a man begins to take action something strange happens. The universe starts to assist him in his endeavour. People start to notice. Doors that were previously shut are starting to open up a little. Nobody will pay any attention to that mind-blowing idea of your. But if you back it up with some good-old determined action the world will stop for an instant of a second and start paying attention. Ideas are just words, and as we all know

Plan the work and work the plan. Plan big, act small. Take action. Every journey starts with a small step. You can always take additional steps after that. But you must start. we always try to make big plans, and long-term strategies to go with those plans. In order not to feel overwhelmed it is important to break the longer-term goals down into more manageable short-term goals. Once you know what to do, the trick is to see that it gets done. We usually break our long-term (3-5 year) goals into shorter (3-6 month) goals. These goals are in turn broken down to weekly and finally daily goals. This may seem like a bit much, but it works for us. There are those of us who do things differently but a common denominator is that we all break our longer-term goals down into shorter-term goals. Once you end up with a list of daily tasks you must rank the different tasks and focus your energy on the 3-5 most impportant things. Ask yourself what tasks add the most value to your business and focus on achieving them primarily.

Many feel that we overdo our planning. Depending on what personality type you represent you are going to respond in different ways to the burden of creating that list checking it off on a daily basis. We don´t care how you do it as long as you have a system in place that makes sure that you are always pushing your business forward. And it needs to be a rigid system with little or no possibility to “beat the system”. The reason that we are so adamant about this is that we recognized the need to form good  work habits a long time ago. Habits are hard to break and easy to maintain once they are set into place. Thta´s why it is so important to stay the course the first couple of months of trying to implement a new daily routine. We know it is tough, but rest assured that once that initial hurdle has been climbed everything gets a whole lot easier. Once you grow accustomed to it, your daily business routine will become second-nature. And once you realize how effective you have become and how much of a breakthrough this type of detailed organization and planning has on what you are able to accomplish you will never look back. It is safe to say that many people can at least double their daily output at work. In many cases we have seen individuals achieve multiples of their previous workloads. Most people spend incredible amounts of time doing very little. The number of hours of effective work are usually a small fraction of what we think it is. By adopting some of our methods and apply them to your business life with discipline and persistance you will achieve mind-blowing results. This is because of two factors that are at work. First, by adopting a plan and making sure you work the plan you are forcing yourself to get things done. Give yourself a treat each day that you achieve your daily goals, and give yourself some form of minor punishment when you don´t. This will help you to enforce your discipline. But aside from this first factor, there is also the factor of prioritizing your work. By focusing your hard work systematically on tasks that enhance the value of your business the most you are doing something that will propel your production to levels few individuals ever achieve. You will not believe it once you´ve tried it. We believe the reason so many people are shocked is that they don´t really realize how much time they are spending each day doing stuff that really isn´t work related. On top of this once the average employee does start to work they often end up doing stuff which is of little real value for the company.

This item was placed on our list because we belive it produces amazing results if you manage to follow the plan. The problem is that we have encouraged many to follow our methodology and the results are not uplifting. While we can honestly say that the increases in productivity were amazing for each person who gave our method a reasonable try, there is only a small fraction of people that has managed to hang onto their new habits. Planning in such a detailed fashion and working that plan takes enormous amounts of self-control and discipline. Once you get over the first 6-month period it ususally gets much easier to bear. By then new habits have been set into place and old habits have been forgotten. The problem of course is that there are very few who have the neccessary willpower to make it through the first 6 months.

We encourage you to give it a  try. Plan the work, then work that plan. The results you will be able to achieve by sticking to this methodology over a couple of years is beyond anything you could imagine. Try it out, and see for yourself.

Be rational. Go for the money. Leave the glory. We have always been appaled by how many that are prepared to leave some serious cash on the table in their quest for the glory. We have seen people accept a lesser paycheck, just in order to be able to get a fancier title on their business cards. We have have seen people strike extremely unfavourable business deals only because of the prestige and “face” it provided them with. We have seen people ignoring major business opportunities just to get in the newspapers. To put it bluntly, we have seen people do seriously stupid things just to be recognized, accepted or glorified. If you are in business to make money; always consider which option is the most rational one and then go after that option with gusto. Leave those emotions behind a locked door and always look to take the course of action that has your best interest at heart.

When we were younger we believed all people were a lot more rational than they have turned out to be. We figured that if given a choice between being right or taking the money a majority of the people would choose the money. We certainly would. After all we are into business primarily to make money. But our experience has taught us that there are quite a few out there who would choose being right ahead of taking the money. In fact, there are disturbingly many of them. People are not as rational as they should be. They are emotional. And there is nothing wrong with that. Except for the fact that emoptions and business do not mix that well in general. Be rational. Stay rational under pressure. And always choose the money. Be glad to leave the fame and glory to the others.

Act long-term. This one did take some time for us to fully grasp. As you are starting out there is a in general a pressing need to find the neccessary cash flow in order to survive those monthly bills and also hopefully be able to take out some form of ridiculously minimal salary. Since you are always looking to make ends meet, it is difficult, if not impossible, to raise your eyes and take a look at the bigger picture. You are simply too busy surviving to allow yourself the luxury of thinking about anything else. But hopefully as your business evolves into a more resistant mechanism and you get some regular monthly cash injections in place you will be able to pay attention to the strategical outlook. It´s very important that one does not get too used to the short-term hunt for monthly cash-flow. We know we got somewhat caught up in that type of thinking and most entrepreneurs do. Nothing to fret about. The important hting is to put your foot down and decide to slowly start making all your major decision againts a longer-term background. Make a commitment to be in it for the long term. Always be willing to sacrifice some short-term profit for some major reward down the line. Always conduct business in such a way as to maximize the long-term outlook for your enterprise. Look to add value to customers at the same price. Try to improve your customer service and always respond quickly to customer requests. Be willing to walk teh extra mile even though there seems to be nothing in it for you in the short term.

You must be thinking longer-term. You must lift your eyes from the petty cash laying on the road right in front of you and look at the mountain  of gold hinting in the horizon. Don´t worry about it. Paradoxically, by always acting with the long-term view on things, you are most likely to do well in the short term as well. We know we did. As soon as we started to improve our business instead of just focusing on improving our cash flow, we recognized an immediate rise in the cash flow as well. And the real beauty of it all is that the rise in cash flow revenues was lasting, since it was based on an increased customer experience rather than a push in your monthly sales-effort. Once you achieve this, wonderful things start to happen. People start recommending you. You get a lot of new customers, people who know value when they see it and who are ready to vote for you and your business with some hard-earned presidents.

Concentration AND diversification. Know when to concentrate and when to diversify. This one can be a bit tricky. In general you want to focus when it comes to business. Being an entrepreneur there will be times when you find yourself overextended. This is a function of being perhaps a little bit too optimistic and opportunistic. It comes with the territory, after all that´s what being an entrepreneur is all about. reaching for the stars. And there is nothing wrong with that. Just don´t reach for all stars at the same time. This kind of over-diversification will only cause you to do semi-good in many areas instead of doing excellent in one particular area. It is the wrong decision to make. We know, cause we have made this mistake all too many times. Our experience is that you should put at least 90 percent of your focus on one single business at any one time. Like a lazer, fuocus all your energy to make that business shine. Make it stand out. Only whne you´ve achieved what you´ve set out and the business is “taking care of itself”, or rather your employees are taking care of the business for you can you focus on something else. This rule doesn´t apply if you own businesses taht are highly automated or that don´t require a lot of your time. Those kind of businesses are excellent and you can often have a great many of those in your business portfolio without feeling overwhelmed.

While you should focus most of your energy on one or a few businesses there are times when we have wandered from this principle with satisfying results. At times we have been in a position to try to determine which project is the better one among a number of potential candidates. In some of those instances we have decided to launch all projects and spend quite some time on each of them for a limited amount of time. After some time has passed by we evaluate each project, see how it is doing and what potential it has. By then you should have been able to get some solid customer feed back in place. This type of diversification can be very beneficial as you get to take all projects for a “test drive”" before choosing which one has the best chances of winning the race. Typically we choose one or two projects out of perhaps 5 or 6. The other projects are in most cases quickly forgotten. The considerable time we spent on them, we simply consider as sunk costs. It has cost us some time, but that´s a part of doing business, and we now have one or two very promising projects to focus all of our attention on. Diversification can be helpful as you can see, but we don´t like to apply it for a longer period of time. We like to be focused on our core business most of the time and do some diversification exercises during limited periods of time. This is what has worked for us, but we are aware of others who have been able to be more successful despite the fact that they were heavily diversified. The point is that there is a trade-off to be made between concentration and diversification and that you should find what works best for you. Our experience is that concentration works best for most people, particularly when starting out.

Keep moving. Successful entrepreneurs are always moving it seems. Their instincts tell them that it is always better to be in motion than to stand still. In fact it´s often better to move backwards than it is to stand still. This is actually something that is being taught to nearly all the elite military forces around the world (you guessed it; one among us is a former member of one of these elite forces). You are taught that the best way to react while being under fire is to make sure to keep moving, to stay in action and be proactive. It doesn´t matter if you move forward, backwards, to the side, or hit the dirt, as long as you do something and as long as you don´t freeze. If you freeze you become a sitting duck, a target that is just waiting for disaster to strike. We believe this principle is true not only in battle but in life as a whole. Be a man of action. Always keep moving.

We have found that many truly oustanding entrepreneurs only take a casual interest in the actions of their competitors. Some of them couldn´t care less. They are not trying to beat their competitors, they are simply trying to accomplish their own dreams and visions. They have so much that needs to be done, so many features to be added, so many improvements that should be made´t, they simply don´t have the time to worry about the competition. While they seem largely detached to the competition, very often we have found that these entrepreneurs are making the competition worried instead. By focusing so much on their own visions they very often stand out, in most cases in a good way. They are recognized as market leaders, innovators and authorities in their particular area of business. And many of their competitors find them a hard nut to crack. How do you compete with someone who is obviously not playing by the same playbook as everybody else? How do you adapt to someone who is blissfully ignorant of your market strategy and seems to be one step ahead of you at all times? Do you copy them, try to ignore them, or try to intimidate them? And what do you do if you´ve already tried all of these options without any results whatsoever? Try to be that kind of entrepreneur. Always try to look forward. Always look to improve. Always be in motion forward and keep your competitors second-guessing your intentions. Plan many steps in advance and make sure to transform that action plan into results. It is the ability to stay constantly in motion that makes these entrepreneurs such hard targets. How do you come after someone, if you are not even able to locate them? You don´t. The best you can do is to try to follow into their footsteps, quietly and involuntarily accepting that they are the market leaders and you are struggling to keep up with their pace, creativity and flexibility.

Having the ability to go to action is paramount in getting things done. Winners get things done. In business, as well as in life. Don´t procrastinate or become a passive victim standing on the sideline waiting for fate to strike. Actively pursue your goals this minute and create your own luck. Be a master of your fate. As long as you keep moving you will be favoured by fortune and smiled upon by lady luck. The world will quietly admire and assist the persistent man of action. Become that man. Be an irresistable force. Not an immovable object. And remember that if you take a wrong turn you can easily shift direction if you are used of being in motion. Motion is life. Motion is opportunity. Motion is business. Motion is money. And motion is luck. Stay in motion, my friend! Stay in motion!


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