The one big move that will help you harness your limited time and energy.
You survived the holidays and now you are turning to the goals that will make this a great year. That sounds promising, but many of us have created complexity that is slowing us down. Now is the time, while the year is young, for you to decisively kill the clutter and simplify, simplify, simplify.
By simplifying your life, you will have fewer burdens. Then you can focus your limited time, energy and money on the areas that really matter. Here's how to get started.
1. Eliminate Poor Performing Clients - Today is the day to divide your clients into two piles. One pile pays well, is easy to work with and is profitable. The second pile is comprised of the unprofitable customers, those that are a collection nightmare, or the worst of all--those that are just straight-up difficult. These clients are a major distraction and you are rewarded with nothing but low margin hassles. Get rid of the clients that have no future, so you can pour all your energy and focus on coddling your key accounts--the ones that make a difference and pay the bills. If you are conflicted about eliminating the poor performers, raise their prices a lot. If they stick around with the higher prices, at least they will be super profitable.
2. Ditch Associations & Meetings That Don't Pay Dividends - How many times have you gone to a meeting where you didn't get one promising idea or potential lead? If that's a pattern with certain associations or groups you belong to, it is time to part ways so you can reallocate time to the associations and organizations that consistently generate break through ideas or prospects that can make a business year successful. Cancel your membership today and decline future visits. Days of travel and hotel stays are now freed up for more productive activities.
3. Separate From Poor Performing Employees & Vendors - Times are lean. We have to husband our cash and our time carefully. You may have employees or vendors that by the sheer force of inertia you have tolerated that don't "Enchant" (Read Guy Kawasaki's namesake book - he is a legend) your clients. These employees probably disappoint your clients. You have hung on to them because your focus is elsewhere, but now is the time to rectify these oversights. Your clients wonder why you keep this inept person as part of your team and question your judgement. Your colleagues perceive your coddling of this sub-par performer as holding others back from hitting their goals. By making the swift change now and replacing the underperformer with a rock star, you will turn this role into a power house of productivity. Your clients and employees will thank you.
4. Revisit Old Favorites - Spend all this new time you have found (not dealing with unproductive clients and wasteful organizations) redoubling your efforts on those key accounts that move the needle and pay the bills. They will be pleased with all your new attention and warm embrace.
DREW GREENBLATT is the president of Marlin Steel, a U.S.-based builder of steel wire baskets and sheet metal material handling containers. Marlin has grown for seven consecutive years, has gone more than 1,800 straight days without a safety accident, and believes passionately in the American manufacturing renaissance. @steelwire