A Puzzle on National Puzzle Day

January 30, 2019

Lombard StreetFor reasons I cannot muster, I’ve been thinking about Lombard Street in San Francisco this week, the crookedest street in the world.

A short block long, one-way only, down a very steep hill, eight tight hairpin turns, at a recommended maximum speed of five miles per hour.

On one hand you must proceed with caution.

On the other hand, the beautiful, quaint, brick-paved route is fun, challenging and a great joy to navigate.

Here’s your puzzle:  what do Lombard Street and your business have in common?

They both require you to proceed with caution while enjoying the fun, challenging joy of navigating to your Goal!

A strong metaphorical resemblance, don’t you agree?

While it’s *only* January, we want to make sure you’re mastering your business, rather than it mastering you this year.

Your business might feel filled with sharp turns, giving you that anxious rush in your stomach as you cascade rumble-tumble down a steep hill.  You step on the brakes and go slowly, too often missing the joy the ride brings.

Plus, approaching Lombard Street without a driving plan means you might not make it down the hill.  You might not even get in the usual line to be one of the lucky cars to take the plummet.  With a plan it’s like a great ride at Disneyland—you want to queue up and do it again.

Kind of reminds me of your business.

With a business plan in hand the sharp turns—though often unexpected—become manageable.  The sensation of cascading down hill feels more controllable.  You don’t have to step on the brakes too often.  As a matter of fact, you can probably pick up speed!

Month Two of 2019 kicks off shortly (like Friday).  If you haven’t mapped out your plan for this year, when do you have that on your calendar to execute?

If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll get somewhere, but nowhere you want to be.

Control your business.  Or it will control you.

Drive like you know where you’re going…because you do.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Ron Popeil Was Wrong

January 23, 2019

rotisserie chicken

What’s that you say? The most successful infomercial salesman of all time? Ron Popeil was wrong?

“Set it and forget it” was the tagline that made Popeil a multi-millionaire. Of course, he was referring to his Showtime Rotisserie Oven. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last 20 years, you’ve seen Popeil selling the oven and other products more times than you can count…especially on late night television.

Ron’s infomercials have been the model for countless other entrepreneurs hoping to sell their products directly to consumers. The Showtime Rotisserie Oven infomercial is the gold standard. Ron engages the audience as though they were fans cheering the team on…chanting “set it and forget it” every time he gives the cue.

So, what’s wrong with that?

“Set it and forget it” may work for rotisserie ovens, but it’s bad advice for business.

It’s January and most entrepreneurs, including you and me, are the proud owners of shiny new goals and plans to meet those goals. And how we treat those goals and plans will make all the difference when it comes to having a successful 2019.

Far too many of us will set the goals in January and mostly forget about them until October or November when the third quarter revenue reports show us how far we are from the target.

We may get bogged down in the details, wander off track chasing the idea of the month, or get stuck on something that just isn’t working and somehow, the goal gets lost in the process.

Even the most well-crafted SMART goals and best strategic plans can fail without consistent attention.

Checking progress toward the goal at regular intervals is the way we can make the little adjustments that ensure we’ll reach the target we’re aiming at. Missing an early milestone can be either a warning sign or a learning opportunity. Either way, if we don’t notice we’ve missed the milestone, trouble surely lies ahead.

We can’t just put the plan on the shelf and go back to check it when the timer goes off at the end of the year.

If you want to be a success this year, keep those goals where you can see them. Review them often and check your progress toward each milestone along the way.

“Set it and forget it” worked great for Ron Popeil. But it won’t work for you or me.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris

Make Your Iron Hot

January 16, 2019

blacksmith iron

William Butler Yeats isn’t the usual source I’d turn to for business insights.   Poetry, sure.  But business insights?  Not what he’s known for.

But there you go…you can never tell from whence insightful business direction comes.

And a more perfect direction for 2019 would be hard to find.

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” 

~ William Butler Yeats

WB (can I call you WB?), thanks for pointing out something critical as we business owners sit in the middle of January, the beginning of a fresh year.

Make your iron hot by striking…stop waiting for it to get hot.

Dear business owner, WB wants your iron to be hot right now.  Not waiting until September or October to look up, realize your 2019 Goal is still “out there.”

What can make your iron sizzle starting right now as you read this?

  • Set your goal: one, measurable target you want to reach this year (usually it’s your gross revenue)
  • Lay a flexible plan to achieve it: for example, how much revenue are you targeting for January?  How much do you have right now?  Who are your “hot” prospects ready to say “yes” to you right now…if only you’d reach out to them?
  • If you’ve been in business for a bit, call your former clients. Trust me on this: the first problem you solved for them made them happy, but now they are left with a new problem.  You can solve that one, too.
  • Make sure your Actions for January, February and March lead to your Goal. You don’t have to do anything that’s business housekeeping.  That keeps your desk neat and your bank account meager.

Sure, you can tackle more.  These are great starts and will yield a very nice first quarter.

Start the first quarter strong and the rest of the year will feel like…well, like your iron’s smokin’.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams