One of the most amusing and prophetic quotes I have ever heard is attributed to Mark Twain: "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."
Hopefully, all of us can relate to that humorous but accurate representation of how we tend to see the world.
The Lord certainly blessed me with wonderful, loving parents who taught me many things that have been instrumental in my life and in my business dealings and relationships. I thought I would share with you some of my father's sayings that have helped guide me and my business dealings over the years. I am not attributing authorship to him, but they have served me well in all of my endeavors. I hope they do the same for you.
"IF YOU SHOOT for the stars, you will hit the treetops. If you shoot for the treetops, you'll bite the dust." If you have any business experience or have ever played any type of organized sport, I am sure you have been indoctrinated into the science of goal-setting. Goals are supremely important in helping us achieve our endeavors. Many of the standard goal-setting techniques tell us goals should be measurable and achievable. But what does achievable mean? To most of us, I think it means smaller goals. I guess dad didn't want me to think small. His saying was a way to inspire me to strive to achieve big things, to be optimistic, to think bigger. So why think small when you can think big?
Let's say you set a goal to increase sales by 10 percent next year. Does that sound achievable? Maybe not in the current economic climate, but let's say we set that as our achievable goal. If we achieve it, great! But, just for the sake of argument, let's say the goal is to increase sales by 30 percent. That sounds much harder, but even if we only get halfway to our goal, we have still increased sales by 15 percent, which is better than the realistic goal we set of 10 percent. Eventually, if we keep moving in the direction of that goal, we will hit it!
Set some big goals for yourself.
"YOU HAVE TO ask yourself, is the juice worth the squeeze?" This is my favorite quote from my father, and it has two distinct meanings. First, you need to ascertain whether the amount of effort expended on a task or project is worth the payoff.
Visualize someone squeezing an orange. If you have ever tried to make fresh orange juice for breakfast, you know what I mean. How much juice will you get? Minute Maid sure looks good after a few tries.
Some tasks, projects, clients, employees, etc., will just not be worth the effort. Some functions in your company that you must complete but are not core to your business are probably not worth the effort.
For example, I have clients that do their own payroll. Most rationalize that they have software that handles it for them and it doesn't take very long, etc. But in a small company, 90 percent of the time the payroll is handled by the owner or the owner's spouse. The business owner is also typically the company's No. 1 sales person or sales manager.
Wouldn't the owner be better served focusing on sales instead of stopping everything he is doing every week or two to get the payroll ready? Focus on the tasks that make you money and leave other tasks to someone else.
Just visualize someone squeezing an old orange, the kind where the juice is dried up. You can squeeze and squeeze and you will probably get some juice, but it sure takes a lot of effort.
Secondly, you should ask yourself, "What result do I expect to achieve from this effort, and do I even want this result?" If the result from a project or task does not move us in the direction of our overall goal, then don't do it.
"BY THE INCH, it's a cinch. By the yard, it's hard." When you are shooting for the stars, it can be easy to get overwhelmed at the scope of the project. Once the goal is set, it is important to break it down to the strategies and tactics needed to achieve the desired result. That way, the lofty goals are now in manageable pieces.
David Yezbak is the president of Sunbelt Business Brokers in Augusta and Columbia.