And the Answer is…!


February 17, 2014

“What is the Number 1 challenge to your business” is a question I ask business owners. The number one answer I get is – “ME”, meaning them, getting into their own way, not doing what they say they are going to do, looking at things personally instead of from a business point of view, etc. Most often the number 1 challenge is the person you look at in the mirror.


Reflect on this for a minute – most recognize that they are their biggest challenge.


A few weeks ago I asked three different groups of business owners, managers, sales people the question: “We are one month into the New Year, how many of you have accomplished everything you set out to do in January.” Out of 90+ people, only 3 conveyed that they had achieved everything they wanted to do in January, that equates to about 3% – 3%!


I was not overly surprised. The real question then is: “If not, why not?” Then when you get that answer you must ask the question, “Who is holding you accountable?” Is it your spouse, your business partner, your investors, your business coach, no one? Unfortunately for most, it is no one.


Most small business owners, unless it is their spouse, have no one to hold them accountable for their results. Everyone needs an accountability partner. Someone to ask them the tough questions, someone to ask them why they did not achieve what they said they were going to do, someone to tell them the truth and not what they want to hear, someone to challenge them, push them. Who is holding you accountable for what you say you are going to do? For your results?


Secondly, are there consequences for failing to achieve your goals? What are they? Are they documented? Are they soft or are they compelling? I once placed a stretch sales goal on my business with the consequence of not being able to watch the World Series (I have watched every World Series since 1955) if I failed to achieve this goal. I made the goal going away and with it recognized that a compelling consequence can be very motivating. As a result, I continue to look for consequences that will push me to do what I say I am going to do.


Also, what are the rewards for achieving your goals? Do you have any? If so, are they documented? They may be as simple as treating yourself to a movie or an ice cream cone or going to Disney World. The point is, you need to reward yourself also. I have a client that had an incredible sales and profit quarter and asked her what she was going to do to celebrate – Her answer was nothing. Business as usual. I encouraged her to reward herself, which she did, taking a vacation with her daughter that was thoroughly enjoyed by both. By the way, maybe reward had no impact, maybe it did. The business continued to flourish the rest of the year and ended posting a $183k increase in sales and a $44k increase in profits on a base of $252k and $11k in sales and profits the previous year. Who would not want a 400% increase in profits?


My favorite story about rewards and consequences involves a man whose daughter asks her Father to take her to Disney World. He tells her that when he saved x dollars for the trip, they will go. The daughter began to dream about the trip, put pictures on the refrigerator, and every night when her Father returned from the work she would ask, if he had made and saved the money needed for the trip. He continued to say no, realizing the consequence of continuing to say no and disappoint his daughter, and the potential reward of saying yes. The process continued for months with the Father pushing harder and harder to achieve the goal for the reward. Finally, one day he came home and was asked the question if he had saved enough money yet, he was able to say YES. He then realized the real reward was not being able to enjoy such a wonderful vacation with his daughter, but also the joy he saw in her face and what it meant to her for him to achieve this goal, when he told her he achieved their goal of having the money for their trip to Disney World. The daughter did not know it, but she was the person holding her Father accountable, and the reward.


Accountability – taking ownership of the situation, problem, challenge, goal, find solutions, develop an action plan to overcome, achieve, and MAKE IT HAPPEN!


What are the consequences if you fail? What are the rewards? Who is holding you accountable for your results?