SALES

Get Faster & More Flexible: 5 Tips

Sometimes, "perfect" can be a problem. Here's how to make your company more nimble.
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We have a common saying in my company: You can either be slow and perfect or fast and good. Perfect a month from now usually misses the mark; the world changes too fast, leaving you not perfect, but rather perfectly late.

You may fall, of course; you do run the risk of making more mistakes this way. But what's most important is how quickly you pick yourself back up–and what you learn from the experience.

This idea of "fast and good" is crucial for small business owners who are constantly striving to be more adaptive and more nimble. When you're running a small business, you don't have months and months to get everything right. By the time it's perfect, it'll be obsolete. In order to stay relevant in the market, you have to be able to try things, take risks and be flexible enough to adapt quickly to change.

Here are five ways to take your company from "slow and perfect" to "fast and good."

1. Take Advantage of Mistakes

There's experience and then there's learning. The difference is that learning hurts. The next time something goes wrong, find a way to make sure it doesn't happen again: Break down what happened and figure out exactly what you could do differently. Then put your safeguards in place right away, before the same thing happens again.

2. Clarify Your Expectations

If part of your corporate culture is going to be to speed up the pace, you have to know what's "good enough." If there are members of your team who aren't comfortable with anything short of "perfect," help them to establish "good enough" as their new equilibrium.

A faster pace also means you'll reach your outcomes faster than you're used to. By figuring out ahead of time what constitutes "good enough," you'll know when you've arrived–and can move on to the next goal.

3. Be Intentional

To say yes to the things that will really impact your bottom line, you need to figure out when you're going to say "no." Start off each week by identifying three to five things that you need to have accomplished by Friday afternoon. Say to yourself: If nothing else gets done this week, I will deem this week a success if I get x, y and z done.

You can't do everything–but if you're preemptive and realistic, you can control what falls by the wayside rather than constantly scrambling.

4. Open Lines of Communication

As you increase your speed of operation, you'll inevitably depend more upon members of your team more. To avoid potential hang-ups, give them a heads up whenever you realize you'll be needing their input, approval, or time. When you're moving forward quickly, err on the side of keeping them too informed rather than underinformed.

5. Focus on Effectiveness

I too often see people who are so busy being "productive" that they're not effective. When you're flying at a million miles an hour, make sure you're doing things to move forward, rather than just moving to move. Ask yourself constantly: How does this task get me closer to my end goal?

I'm not promising you a bruise-free path ahead. But if you follow these tips, you'll be able to pick up the pace at which your company operates, making you both more nimble and more adaptive.

Last updated: Feb 3, 2012

TOM SEARCY | Columnist | Founder, Hunt Big Sales

Author, speaker, and consultant Tom Searcy is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Searcy's weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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