Author Archives: Paul LaRue
The oft-quoted (and also mis-quoted) proverb “You can’t save your way to prosperity” has a much more pertinent meaning for business.
Many companies, small business as well as large corporations, have struggled when they focus so much on the bottom line that they forget how to move forward and drive top-line revenues.
A Forbes article last month detailed how an entrepreneur’s previous startup consumed him because of the fear of financial losses. Worried too much about pinching pennies consumed him even though the company had millions in revenue.
He discovered that focusing solely on the bottom line was no way to run a business, let alone give himself any peace or lasting satisfaction. Once he discovered what he was doing wrong, he stepped back and formulated his next start up with a focus on driving revenue and creating value.
I often say that the problem with most floundering businesses is that they changed their game plan and started playing defense penny-wise when they should be more on the offense in building value for their customers. Simply stated, by having a vision towards building loyal customers and a complete value in everything you do will help get a company moving forward and not restrained by decisions on what to spend or not spend.
Penny pinching and bottom line focus shortens an organization’s vision and take the eyes off of most everything else, particularly your company values and mission statement. Granted, profitability should be a goal; however, having the right internal systems should ensure profitability flows down through from the top line revenues.
And yet, sales is not the be-all-and-end-all. Many companies are great at getting the sale or driving revenue, but create little lasting value that builds trust or commitment form their customers.
Creating value comes not only between your customers and your organization, but also a holistic synergy within your company that transcends the inner workings and augments that trust and commitment from your customers.
When a customer sees that your company will follow through to make things right for them, or that your team works in alignment with your core values which in turn prove your organization is what it says it is, you create a value that enhances the transaction-based part of the relationship. This creates more intrinsic value beyond what you bring to your customers, a value that you can never build focusing on the bottom line and pinching pennies en route to success.
Running a business with the majority of your focus on the bottom line is “penny-wise and pound foolish”. The best success comes by creating not just sales, but value beyond the transaction. Spend your efforts on value.
Why do people and organizations ask as a reflexive action “Well, who else does this?” when they hear about a product or service for the first time.
It’s because they want to leverage someone else’s courage, and more often the case their other’s money, so they don’t take on unknown risk.
But many people don’t generally think that … someone had to be the first mover.
While First-Movers and Early-Adopters don’t always succeed because of their willingness to blaze a trail, they do something most other companies don’t do – they show courage to test new waters, adopt new technology, or forego industry norms to differentiate.
So many times companies, especially established ones, play defense by asking “who else does this?” instead of playing offense in bucking a trend and disrupting the marketplace.
You’ll never go anywhere waiting for others to go before you.
Worst case scenario – it doesn’t work and you go back to the core.
Best case scenario – you grow your market share, increase sales, and/or be noted as a pioneer in your industry.
If it sounds good to consider, don’t continue to ask. Just go for it.
We live in a time-starved world. New challenges and duties that must be met with urgency (whether yours or someone else’s). Shifting focuses that change daily, disrupting our efforts. Outside influences that pick us off from our targeted objectives.
We have many of the same challenges when we examine our personal lives as well. When our careers and home lives converge, it can become quite overwhelming.
There is as much a time crisis as there is a leadership crisis these days. Yet in order for great leaders to be effective and instigate change, they need to attain some harmony of a work-life balance as well.
Work-life management is like a buffet – there are a variety of options, you just need to choose the ones that work for you and put them into action.
For instance, Tal Schnall wrote in his Leadership Cafe blog about some strategies that leaders can use to achieve this elusive work-life balance. Talent Culture regularly posts strategies on how this balance can be sustained. These are just some examples of how leaders are reaching out to help stabilize the noise in today’s hectic world. Motivation To Move recently had a podcast that shows a rolling 7-day week to keep goals progressing.
Today I present a quick sampling of a technique I call “The 7-Day Way” to help achieve some balance in our professional and personal lives.
- Take a piece of paper, your Moleskine, Franklin Planner, Planner Pad, smartphone, tablet, etc and jot down 7 life areas or roles that comprise your life. For instance, one can use: Faith, Family, Development, Work, Recreational, Health, Social. Another can use Parent, Coach, Administrator, Creator and other roles. Make them yours and relevant to your goals. These are areas that you want to focus and spend some elusive time on.
- Look at the week ahead. Take each life area and write down what day you will focus on that. Think of it as dragging the task from your to-do list and dropping it on your calendar. (For me, I have Faith on Sunday, Thursdays are time spent on extra work activities, Saturday mornings are Home projects). You can keep the same areas on the same days (see my example below on #7), or you can change them week to week.
- Look at your to-do list (or your “to-be” list). Find the most important task to be done in each category and make a time on that day for it. It’s doesn’t matter how long it takes – 2 hours, 30 minutes, or even 5 minutes to change a doorknob or write a book outline. Morning, lunch break, evening after dinner, late at night before retiring, however your schedule permits. What matters is that you have the time to focus on that goal.
- Look at this list daily, morning and night (3-5 minutes). Do it while you have your morning coffee or evening tea. What happens is that you know on Saturday afternoon is a time to talk with your neighbor or read or get the materials for that research paper. When you can see the next few days ahead, you start to plan to achieve those tasks and your mind will be in gear formulating the ways to accomplish it.
- Be forgiving and flexible. If a day gets so busy that you were not able to work in that life area, don’t fret. Just plan it for another time that week, or schedule it in the next week. You may find there are days you can accomplish more than 1 life area task in the same day.
- Reschedule, and build on the past week. As mentioned, if a task simply cannot be done, reschedule. As the weeks go on, you may find that your Mondays become more open for you to read, and you will start to look forward to that time for relaxing and growing.
- Have fun. While the discipline this creates is wonderful, you must also be flexible and have fun with this. Don’t sweat the missed days. Use a white board w/ color coded markers, or a calendar with magnets or stickers. Be unique and make it yours. I included a sample infographic below for you as a guide.
While this method is only one of many methods out there for you to be more productive, I believe the flexibility and ease of this method will give it effectiveness and longevity in your life’s pursuits.
Work hard. Play hard. Rest easy!!
(infographic: Paul LaRue © 2019)