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As appeared in the Business Ledger, July 25, 2011
I have made a renewed commitment to get rid of the extra weight I am carrying and live a healthier lifestyle. My health club membership seemed to be gathering dust far more than I care to admit, and I have vowed change my excuse-filled ways. For the past two weeks I have been extremely dedicated to my cardio and weight lifting regimen, and have dropped ten pounds of potato chips and beer.
While I was working my regimen the other day, a young woman asked if I would "spot" her while she did her bench presses. I obliged and she pressed almost twice as much as I expected her to do based on her slight size. She then asked if she could return the favor and "spot" me. I started to make an excuse as I knew she had lifted more than I could. My male pride was already damaged but I decided to go with my maximum weight as to salvage some of my dented pride. I finished my presses and sheepishly thanked her, hoping my advanced age would cut me some slack. It didn't because as she walked away, she said, loud enough for everyone to hear, "Next time, go big or go home!"
This episode started me thinking about the many small businesses I train and how most allow their lack of size to hold them back. The thought that kept ringing in my ears was, "Stop thinking small just because you are a small business." Size doesn't matter as long as each adopts the same practices that have made their larger counterparts successful.
There are common practices each, regardless of size, can implement. Firstly, all businesses must develop high performing leadership, sales and operations cultures. These three areas are the driving forces in growth, if not survival! I have rarely witnessed a small business failing when these components were functioning at a high level.
All small business owners who read this must initially examine their leadership skills. Does everyone in the company have a clear understanding of your vision, mission and strategy for success? Have you worked with all employees to tie their professional and personal goals to the business strategy?
After leadership, it's time to analyze the sales function. Do all sales personnel understand that their success and employment is secure if they prospect for new business opportunity consistently, close business at a 65% or higher rate and continuously strengthen relationships with their prospects and existing customers?
Lastly, the operations department must focus all employees on superior customer service. This means continuous product improvement, on time delivery and extraordinary problem solving.
Whether the business is large or small, the basic elements of success are the same: lead, sell and service all who cross your path. It's like my little workout pal said, go big or go home... and eliminate excuses.
Go conquer your worlds!
Do you have a personal story about how thinking BIG has helped you small business that you'd like to share? Please leave a comment below.
Bill Bartlett is the president and owner of Corporate Strategies & Solutions, Inc., a Sandler Training Center. He is a certified Sandler trainer and business growth expert, and has been training and coaching presidents, managers and sales people for more than 16 years. He may be reached at 630-778-1500 or via email to email@example.com