How to Take Your Business to New Heights
BY Jeff Haden
Do you know what your company can do when you really hustle? Now's the time to find out.
If, hypothetically, one Saturday evening in 1986, you gave one case of beer each to a local policeman with a radar gun and a less-than-dedicated airport employee willing to look the other way, you might have determined your motorcycle could hit a top speed of 157 miles per hour.
Not without a little hypothetical excitement, though. When you hit about 130 mph, the bike started wobbling like a drunken Slinky. When you accelerated through the 140s into the 150s, you could have been forgiven for thinking that adult diapers just might make a smart addition to your standard motorcycle attire.
Still, when you swung back by the police car and saw the readout on the radar gun, you might have realized the words top end no longer signified a possibility but an achievement.
All hypothetical, of course.
Lots of things are possible. But you can never know what is truly possible for your business unless you make an all-out effort. And you can't make an all-out effort unless you step away from business as usual and the joys of multitasking and all of your daily "stuff" to hit your true top end.
Say you sell and install high-end audiovisual systems. Maybe you describe your business this way: "We provide top-of-the-line multimedia experiences and outstanding service for discriminating customers..."
Sounds good (at least if you're into marketing drivel), but what do you really do?
To turn a profit, every month you need to sell x number of boxes, perform y installations, and invoice z maintenance contracts.
That's your business: boxes, installations, and maintenance contracts. Without the right combination of x, y, and z, you don't have a business.
Because selling boxes naturally leads to installations and then to maintenance contracts, although you can and probably should tweak the terms of your maintenance agreements to improve revenue (pricing, payment terms, additional value-added services, etc.), just selling more boxes automatically drives new installations and additional maintenance contracts.
So this week, or better yet, this month, focus primarily on sales. Turn admin employees into cold callers and appointment setters. Reconnect with old customers. Increase direct-response advertising spending; forget "branding" and focus on marketing efforts that directly generate leads, appointments, and sales.
Do what it takes to double or even triple your average number of sales calls.
What could happen if your business went all out to determine its true top speed in terms of sales?
Sales are just an example. Maybe productivity is the key driver in your business. Maybe quality is more important than productivity. Decide what you really do, and hold your throttle wide open and find out what is truly possible for your business.
Sound impossible? Then pick something small and knock that out. Go hard for a day or a week, and you'll go home surprised by what you managed to achieve. And you'll be eager for more.
After all, if you combine an empty superspeedway, a Nascar driver able to brush aside the objections of track employees, a few engine modifications, and a total lack of common sense on your part, you might just learn your Hayabusa can reach a top speed of 193 mph.
JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden