Did you play an instrument or a sport as a kid or teen?
I spent several
tedious enjoyable years in piano lessons. I still remember the little red tomato timer that I would twist to speed up my required thirty minutes of practice each day.
I’m sure you remember your parents or your coaches encouraging you to practice, to do drills and exercises to improve at a certain skill. Piano players practice scales and fingering exercises. Baseball players have batting practice. Runners don’t just run, they work in the weight room to build up their muscles.
So why is it that we don’t apply that same sort of logic to other things we want to improve in our lives — like our business?
If you’re interested in creating a performance strategy for your business, click here to download our Performance Strategy Worksheet to start working out your own.
Do You Have a Performance Strategy?
If I got a group of 100 small business owners together in a room and asked them if they had any sort of performance strategy, I would bet that 90 of them would say no. Nine of them might say that their strategy was to “work hard” or “stay focused.” And maybe — maybe — one of them would have an actual strategy.
Yet, if you get 100 athletes in a room, professional or amateur, if they’re serious about their sport and working with a coach, every single one of them will have a performance strategy.
In the book Essentialism, author Greg Mckeown talks about one of Michael Phelps’ performance strategies: he does exactly the same routine before every single race. He performs the same warm up exercises, the same stretches, listens to the same music, even approaches the blocks and dries them off the same way every single time.
The point, his coach said, was that by the time he actually starts the race, winning is just one more step in his routine. It’s all part of his strategy.
I see so many business owners approaching their business in a haphazard way. Don’t get me wrong — they work incredibly hard! But they don’t have a strategy for working smarter, nor a good game plan that makes winning (hitting revenue goals, offering new products, reaching new markets) simply the next step in their routine.
Developing that routine doesn’t have to be hard; but it’s about examining your process and creating a strategy to help you reach your goals faster and easier.
How To Create Your Performance Strategy
In a happy accident of great cosmic timing, I happened to meet my friend Todd Herman at the same time that Devin and I were contemplating how to uplevel our businesses and our business performance. We already knew that we wanted to work smarter, not harder, but we weren’t clear on how to achieve that on our own.
Todd has worked with world-class athletes and business people, and he showed us the power of putting together a performance strategy. Todd’s method has four basic parts:
- Start by getting clear on where you are and where you want to go. This often means collecting the data about your business, and then really examining it for insights about what’s working and what’s not.
- Next, decide which goals you want to focus on — and the key word here is focus. You can achieve anything, but not everything (at least, not all at once!). Carefully evaluating and selecting the goals to focus on for period of time helps you focus and get better results.
- Then, have a plan for executing those goals. Break each one down into clear, simple action steps. For example, if you want to launch a new website, putting “design website” on your to-do list wouldn’t be helpful; but adding “create vision board,” “decide on color palette,” “meet with designer,” etc. would be concrete actions steps you can take.
- Finally, and most importantly, you have to make a date with yourself regularly to review what worked and what didn’t. That way you can change course, make improvements, and hit your goals.
Just like a sports team will watch video of past games to learn what they did right and what they did wrong, as entrepreneurs we need to be regularly reviewing how our goals and actions played out.
Too often we finish one thing and then jump straight into the next thing without pausing to reflect on what went well and what didn’t. But without that time to reflect and understand, we don’t learn anything from our actions. We don’t know what worked or where the process broke down.
Of everything I learned from Todd, I think including that review period in the natural rhythm of my business has been the most important, because it allows us to learn, iterate, and improve much faster.
Where can you improve your business performance strategy? Download our Performance Strategy Worksheet by clicking here and start your new year off strong with a plan to level up your performance by working smarter, not harder.