Having done my Malcolm-Gladwell-esque “10,000 hours of experience” (in his book Outliers, Gladwell suggests that it takes 10,000 hours for someone to become an experienced professional, in any field), I feel like there are some fixed principles that apply to all of our clients, who run the gamut from nonprofit to small business to public agency. We’ve found that the individuals or organizations that are successful follow these five principles.
1. Figure out what you want.
If you don’t know what you want, it’s pretty difficult to get someone else on board with your vision. Attempt to discern, in as much detail as possible, your vision for your endeavor. The details can come later, and some of your questions can be answered by someone in a particular subject area, but first figure out your basic priorities for your business.
2. Commit to success.
We’ve observed that the people who commit and take calculated risks are the ones who end up making it stick. This might be related to decision-making or to the time it takes to get a project up and running, or maybe it’s just luck. Regardless of the reasons, we have found that people who just want a small project, a side job or some additional income to pay a few bills are the people who receive exactly that, whereas the people who quit their job, or focus full time on their new endeavor, or reach their enormous goal, are the ones who have the drive, passion, and determination to build towards their goals. Figure out what constitutes the success of your endeavor, and then work diligently towards that.
3. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
If you know what you’re good at, you can quickly find a teammate, partner, advisor, volunteer, subcontractor, or employee who will fill in your gaps. You must find out what your particular strength is, and what are your weaknesses– these weaknesses are best filled by some other individual or team.
4. Hire the best.
You require the “right people on the bus” before you start the bus on its journey (courtesy of Jim Collins in Good to Great). This means you absolutely find the best talent that fits your budget and needs. I think of hiring like buying olives: when you get the very best available for your budget, you end up with a better finished product.
5. Track your data.
Reporting and data tracking help you understand your progress. Using your daily or weekly report, you identify what’s important and you have some basis for your decision-making. Without numbers, you really have no idea if the project is going well, is flailing, is turning a curve, or is on an exponential rise.
Identify what your numbers will be, and track them as much as possible. Numbers could be things like: customer service complaints, average purchase per customer, rate of retention, number of unique visitors. Whatever your number, watch it regularly and understand what your data is telling you.
Cross-tick your upcoming plans or decisions against these principles, and integrate these five points into the ongoing care and feeding of your project — you’ll be able to bask in the success you create.
I’m starting to offer consulting hours for your project, event, or endeavor. Please send me a tweet at @monicadear if you’re interested.
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