Think Small and Accomplish Great Things

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Mary came to me to create big, new changes for her business. How exciting, having a big dream! She had a million ideas and a solid, well thought-out task lists to back up the big plan. Except there was one small problem – Mary’s dream was dying on the vine. By thinking big she was overwhelming herself. She was paralyzed.

Mary asked me, “How do you accomplish all the things you do? Do you have some mysterious time management system that I need to know about?”

Nope. No time management system. No crystal ball. No magic wand. Just one mantra: Think Big and Think Small.

Thinking Big is about dreaming and strategic design; it answers the questions, “What do I want?” and “Why do I want it now?”

Thinking Small is about tactical planning; it answers the question, “How do I accomplish it?”

Great things are accomplished through thinking in small steps.

Anyone who has tried to stop smoking or lose weight knows you do it one day (one hour, one moment) at a time. Anyone who has attempted to do a 30-mile hike knows it’s simply a case of one foot in front of the other.

People with big business dreams often forget these well-known truths about how to tackle big things.

Mary became frustrated because things weren’t moving fast enough. She was ready to give up her dream because there was too much to do and she didn’t know which task to do first. When she did start a task, she abandoned it if it took longer — or was more complicated — than she thought it should be.

We live in a world of instant gratification.

It numbs us to what’s really important: to live the big, juicy, vibrant life you desire. We’re afraid that thinking small and taking small steps forward because we equate it with being small and having a small life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter how much you try, you can only really do one thing at a time.

You may think that multitasking makes you more productive, but studies show that multi-tasking actually reduces your ability to accomplish tasks. So instead of trying to do five tasks simultaneously I’m advocating this approach: put exquisite, conscious effort into one task at a time, complete it, and move on to the next.

How do you know what small step to take first?

You have been gifted with four pillars of life the day you were born: your intellect, your emotions, your intuition, and other human beings. Start by asking yourself, “What one small thing can I do, right now, that will move me towards my big goal?” Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come to you immediately; have patience and allow the answer to bubble up to the surface.

If the answer still doesn’t come to you, ask other people for help.

Talk to supportive people who fully understand your big dream and can help you to look at the small tasks you must do to accomplish the goal. Write down the tasks or draw them on a piece of paper and ask yourself, “Does this feel right?” Write in pencil so that you can re-arrange it until it truly feels right to you. Then do one small task at a time.

I’m encouraging you to do both: Dream Big, Think Small, and you will succeed.

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Coping With a Recession

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Whether we’re in a recession or not, the economy surely seems shaky right now. If things take a down-turn, how will you handle it for your business?

Now is the time to think strategically. Hasty decisions often lead to poor decisions for the long term health of your business. According to Wikipedia, there have been only four recessions since 1980, lasting from 6 months to 16 months.

Here are some tips on dealing with a recession for your business:

  • Cut costs, but only if it won’t harm you later. The first thing business owners think they must do it cut costs. But don’t cut costs or decrease prices now, if it will hamper your business later. Ask yourself: once the economy picks up again, will the cost I’m cutting or the price I’m reducing put me in a worse situation than I’m in right now?

  • Think sub-contractors. If you have employees, consider turning them into sub-contractors. This will help you avoid paying additional employment taxes and benefits. However, the IRS is very strict about the definition of an employee versus a sub-contractor (they call them ‘independent contractors’), so check their rules here.

  • Get out there and shine. This seems counter-intuitive, but now may be the time to increase your marketing; hard economic times may cause your competition to disappear, leaving the field wide open for you.

  • Take the long view. Remember, marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You should have been doing (and keep doing) marketing every month, month in and month out, not stopping and starting on a whim.

  • Choose your marketing techniques wisely. You should have been tracking, historically, which techniques bring you the most business. Reduce or eliminate those marketing techniques that aren’t paying off for you, or fix them so that they do increase leads and sales.

  • Renovate your marketing tools. For those marketing techniques that are working for you, this might be the time to revamp your marketing tools. Does your website need a facelift? Do you need to offer some new freebies to entice people to look more closely at your products or services? Do you need to change the way you phrase things when you are selling to your customers and closing the deal?

  • Automate wherever you can. Find ways to automate any tasks to reduce the workload on yourself and your staff. What have you been doing manually that a computer system can do for you? Take a look at all your daily tasks and see if there is a computer solution to these time-wasters.

  • Spend your time on what really matters. Consider hiring a virtual assistant or a technology consultant to help you with routine administrative, marketing and website tasks, so that you can use all your time to focus on marketing and delivering your product or service. Decide on the task that you are BEST at, ones that will directly increase your income, and delegate the rest. If you can earn more per hour than it costs you to hire help, then it’s a good use of your time and money to delegate tasks.

  • Make do and mend. Because raw materials were in short supply during World War II, people were encouraged to “make do and mend” an item instead of simply replacing it. Consider your own expenditures: do you really need a new computer, or could you somehow upgrade your existing one for less money? Do you need a new telephone or can you get by with the old one for a while longer?

  • Reduce inventories. If you sell a product, and you believe your sales are going to decrease, this might be a good idea to reduce inventories and not restock to the same level. This is a risky strategy (what if the recession only lasts 6 months?), so be sure you know exactly how long it will take to replenish inventories once the economy picks back up.

Now is the time to begin thinking about what you’ll do if the economy affects your business. It doesn’t matter if we are in a recession now or not. Economies, by their very nature, are cyclical, and you will face lean times and booming times in the future. It’s important that you have a plan for dealing with all types of economic realities.

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