Note: This is the third in the series of blog posts about stuff that has served me well in the world of business. The success of Own Web Now, ExchangeDefender and Shockey Monkey has been well chronicled, these posts are more about me – some stuff I was born with, some I learned after hitting the wall with the head too hard and often. Take it for what it’s worth, forward it to your friends if you like and if you’re interested in these please feel free to join my private list by clicking here.
Most of the mistakes and failures in business are manageable. Everything short of totally failing your business can be taken care of. Well, except one:
Recklessness: There is no workaround for the lack of discipline.
If you like to procrastinate, don’t like dealing with the forms or computers or government or people in general, if you spend more time on Facebook instead of your line of business app, if you detest the people you work with or work for.. well, maybe business ownership isn’t for you. But suppose that’s not an option, how do you deal with it?
Best way to manage failure is by being disciplined and sticking to your plan. Write down your plan. Review your plan. If your results do not reflect your expectations, change or quit. Just don’t let it slide.
Almost all of the catastrophic business failures I’ve witnessed have been a result of direct recklessness by the owners or management. When people take their eyes off the ball it’s easy for things to slip between the cracks until it’s too late. When you care more about things other than your business then that business is only heading in one direction. Pure and simple: straight down.
How To Manage
First, write things down. Study your competition, evaluate your opportunities, consider exit strategies, project stages, workarounds, best case scenario, worst case scenario, funding estimates, profit requirements, timelines (quarterly, annual objectives, 5 year plan) and write them down.
I like to write.
I like to doodle.
It gives me a feeling that I am for a moment disconnected from the very tool that I use to do most of my work and it helps me remember things.
The $400 something Louis Vutton notebook contains all of my sketches, all of my projections, notes, research and to-dos.
Every week I sit down and write down my weekly agenda. Every day I go through the weekly agenda and the daily list of tasks and check them off one at a time. Sometimes it’s just as easy as [ X ] Filed form 2925, done. Sometimes a single line spawns a product line, but it’s there.
Sometimes I take notes and write out possible action items. They nearly never get done that week. But I put a big circle at the top of the page and when I feel bored I flip through the book and look for empty circles in the supper left hand corner – if they are there, I revisit them. If I figure it out, I check them off and I move on.
The picture you see there represents 99% of my productivity and discipline enforcement. I don’t use Outlook tasks, I barely use the calendars. Everything is written down with ink on paper.
You know the expression… until it’s in black and white on paper… do likewise. Start writing down what you’re doing and pretty soon you’ll be writing out what you do each quarter, month, week, day and even intraday.
The problem with the lack of discipline isn’t in carelessness which leads to mistakes: It’s that we’re so overworked, preoccupied and overstimulated that obtaining the proper focus is impossible.
If that’s not the case for you then you’re a better man than I am and kudos to you! Start a blog
Otherwise, get a notepad.
Dedicate the first two pages to your annual goals.
Dedicate the next 8 pages, two per quarter, and write out how you’ll accomplish your annual goals.
Dedicate the next 104 pages to it, 2 for each week. You’ll fill these out as you go along. Sometimes you’ll get things done faster, sometimes it will take more time.
Then just keep yourself in the check.
Discipline is impossible when you don’t know that you’re not being disciplined. You can’t really call it procrastination if there is no due date and you can leave it for tomorrow. Unless you’re willing to hold yourself accountable, nobody else will – but your results will show that and you will not like them.
Managing failure is simply an act of being disciplined about qualifying it, quantifying it and making sure that mistakes and failures don’t become paralyzing, catastrophic disasters. You’re not going to avoid making mistakes – but you’ll at least give yourself a chance to minimize them. Once you can improve your odds of success everything else will follow.