If you’ve read my book Traveling Hopefully, which helps you let go of baggage of the past so you can reinvent your future, you know that I took a pretty circuitous route to get where I am today. I didn’t realize it back then, of course, but I spent needless time, energy and money creating the personal and professional life I have today - which I love, btw! Today, I’m about Finding Shortcuts. Not in giving excellence to your customers and colleagues - I never want to shortcut anyone on that. But in all the different ways you arrive at creating and providing value to others. I’ve seen so many people do things the hard way, pouring resources that they’ll never get back right down the drain. And it drives me craaaazy!
Mind you, not all efforts can - or should - be cut short. In fact, I heartily concur with author Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a discipline from music to sales (read Outliers and you’ll see what I mean). But not all tasks require that kind of Herculean effort. Instead, it’s important to look for efficiencies and economies of scale so that you can get to the finish line faster.
Here are a few of my favorite shortcuts that I use myself and encourage my clients in both the executive and entrepreneurial ranks to adapt:
Find a relevant role model. Even if you think you’ve created the one new thing under the sun, trust me, there are models out there that you can duplicate to speed up your growth curve. If there’s not already somebody doing exactly what you want to do with your career or business, there are most certainly people doing something similar. I’m constantly reading other authors’ books, listening to speakers at conferences, and checking out the websites of competitors to see what I can adapt (not steal - there’s a difference!) for my own business. Even if you learn what not to do from a competitor, that’s learning. For example, one of my team members has a terrific food blog called MyTraderJoesList.com, and while she comes up with lots of ideas on her own, she also keeps an eye on what the big dog Whole Foods is doing. It’s just smart business.
Know when to outsource. I go nuts when people refuse to hire help. And this goes for people in the corporate world as well as entrepreneurs. Look for areas that you’re either not strong in or just don’t want to do. When I was a corporate executive, I was constantly looking for people who could train, teach or guide me to be more effective on the job. Sometimes they were paid professionals and sometimes we simply traded expertise. I don’t care whether that means hiring a housekeeper to free up your time for high-value activities (do you really want to clean floors when you could be marketing?) or an executive coach who has the tools to help you climb that ladder faster than you could on your own.
Take advantage of time-saving tools. A short-term investment in training can reap long-term benefits in saving time, not to mention sanity. Here are some good ones:
- Try online scheduling tool TimeTrade.com instead of making endless phone calls to get meetings on the calendar.
- Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) to keep track of ongoing conversations, project details or pitch/sales calls. Instead of an unwieldy word document or cumbersome spreadsheet, get a system that takes the headache out of tracking. Check out SalesForce.com (the big daddy), Zoho.com or Bento (which is the Mac-based system we use).
- Speaking of Mac, I admit to being a total Apple loyalist not just because of the hip factor but because Mac makes everything easy and intuitive. And you can make an appointment at their in-store Genius Bar (also genius marketing) for help or pay only $99 for a year of one-on-one training. You can’t beat that.
Invest in a great IT person to teach you the latest tech tricks to manage your workload. Whether taming your email with useful folders, syncing all your devices or setting up critical back-up systems, your in-house or external IT expert can be a lifesaver. (Los Angeles locals - I use Atul and Robert at TechPal.com. They do house calls!)
My Latest Greatest Shortcut
Great news! I have persuaded my friend Laura Posey, strategic planning expert and Chief Instigator (you gotta love that) at Dancing Elephants Achievement Group, to lead a one-hour webinar to show you how to create The One Page Strategic Plan that will turn your ideas into actions, drive your income higher and give you focus and control over your days and dollars.
Using The One Page Strategic Plan, you’ll:
- Be more focused
- Eliminate wasted time
- Stop spending money on the wrong business tools
- Hit every goal every time
- Earn more money than ever before
Date: June, 14, 2012 Time: 3:00pm EST (12:00pm PST) Cost: Not One Red Cent!
To Register: http://bit.ly/KZSaNv
Here’s to your unstuck success!
PS: Because Laura always rewards those who take action and invest in themselves, registered attendees will get a special audio copy of Laura’s book “The Six Secrets Of Sales Magnets.” You bet I’m gonna be there!