CREATE A SHOWER RULE
➤ Author and business guru Norm Brodsky is a businessman who likes to take risks. But after a series of poor decisions bankrupted one of his companies, he made up a series of rules that, while still allowing him to take risks, would help cut down on poor decisions. One that you might consider stealing for yourself: Brodsky vowed he would never make an important decision without taking a shower. Brodsky says that he does his best thinking in the shower. And since he takes only one shower a day, Brodsky’s “shower rule” gives the entrepreneur a much-needed “cooling off” period, both literally and figuratively.
STREAMLINE SERVICES, DISNEY-STYLE
➤ If you go to Disney World on a slower day versus a busier day, you get a subtly different experience. Rides are generally shorter on the bustling days, with some of the animatronic frills left out in order to serve more customers. A ride that’s 30 seconds shorter can cut wait times and guest frustrations. The lesson? If you can provide every client with over-the-top service, do it. But if you can’t, institute a busy-day procedure that has one or two special touches that will still allow your business to stand out.
TO LEARN, YOU’VE GOTTA DO
➤ If you’re not doing most of your learning by doing, you’re probably not learning much. That’s according to Peter Sims, author of “Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries.” It’s also the view of most entrepreneurs. Overnight success is rare. Business progress comes from experimenting, taking chances, giving little things a try. It’s a lot more fun, too.
THIS YEAR, ASK FOR WORD OF MOUTH
➤ Committing to actually ask for word of mouth is one of the best ways to build your business in 2016. At Sight Optical in Grand Rapids, MI, each customer leaves the store with a goodie-bag. In addition to glasses, case, cloth and branded spray bottle, there is a card that says: “We strive to give the best possible eyewear buying experience and if you feel we nailed it and know someone who may benefit from our services, please feel free to give them this card and they will save $50 on their purchase of prescription eyewear.”
ALWAYS RAISE YOUR AVERAGE
➤ Let’s start the year with a wise post from Seth Godin succinct enough to include here in its entirety: “Everything you do is either going to raise your average or lower it. The next hire. The quality of the chickpeas you serve. The service experience on register 4. Each interaction is a choice. A choice to raise your average or lower it. Progress is almost always a series of choices, an inexorable move toward mediocrity, or its opposite.” Ask yourself in 2016: Which direction do I want my business moving in? And then spend each day, and each decision, acting accordingly.
BEING SPECIFIC IS TERRIFIC
➤ Automotive giant Chrysler has found the best creative results are not produced by people with unlimited range to innovate. Instead, the company’s most successful projects come when boundaries are strictly defined. So be specific in the goals you set for the coming year: “I want to replace our three lowest-performing frame lines by June 1” or “I want a new customer-service initiative that will increase our feedback ratings by 50 percent with an expense of less than 50 cents per customer.”
PICK A FORWARD INDICATOR
➤ Setting goals for this year? Don’t just pluck a dollar figure out of the air and call it your goal. Instead, pick a “forward indicator.” Examples of forward indicators could be the number of follow-up phone calls your staff makes, the number of customer profiles you add to your database, the amount of money spent on advertising — anything that past experience shows will lead to increased sales.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of INVISION.