As we get closer to the end of the year, I often talk to my clients and business owners about finishing strong, and as part of our 4th Quarter planning process, we talked about the importance of focus for a strong finish. Finishing strong has many different meanings at this time of year depending on the industry you are in. Yet whether you are a retailer planning for a strong holiday season, or a service provider preparing your clients for the cold weather, or any other business category, the key to a strong and profitable finish is the same – unrelenting focus.
The end of the year can bring a lot of chaos and noise into your business, and your job is to sort through all of the noise and to keep yourself and your team pointed in the same direction and more importantly, aiming at the same target! Here are some tips to creating and maintaining your focus.
At the beginning of the year, as part of the annual planning process, I often have my clients set 10-12 goals for their business, as we have 12 months to work on them. Now that we are in the home stretch, we narrow the focus to 2-3 goals at the most and pick the goals that will have the biggest impact on the business between now and the end of the year. We ask ourselves “What are the 2-3 most important outcomes for the business to achieve between now and the end of the year?”.
Share Your Goals
While setting goals can help YOU focus, sharing them with your team, your board, your mentors, your business friends, and your spouse can help you to stay focused and can help your supporting cast get and stay focused on the same outcomes. Be sure that your team knows what the most critical goals are, and help them plan their days and weeks around achieving them. Be sure that the daily conversations are focused on the critical few and not the important many – everything is important in business, you need them working on what is vital and critical right now.
Laser vs Wide Spectrum Focus
There are 100 watt light bulbs that fill a room with light, yet fade as you go down the hallway, and there are 10-watt lasers that can reach the moon. Make sure that you are the 10W laser beam, lining up all of the light rays (your team, your time and energy) and pointing them in the same direction. It is too easy to let our businesses become like that 100W light bulb, shining light everywhere, but never getting us where we really want to go.
Develop Focus Habits and Rituals
What are your daily rituals for getting “in the zone”? What do you do at the start of every day to make sure that you and your team are spending your valuable time on the right things? Here are a few of the habits of the successful: Daily Affirmations or “I Am” statements, Visualization, Meditation, Motivational CDs or Readings for 10 minutes, Exercise, and Goal Review. What are your success habits that help you to focus on the critical few every day?
First Things First
As Stephen Covey wrote, plan your day the evening before, identifying what you MUST do the next day, what you SHOULD do, and what you WANT to do. Focus on getting the “must do’s” completed as early as possible so you have room for the should’s and wants. This time of year, there may not be a lot of time for anything but the must do’s, so be sure to get yourself and your team focused on them every single day.