By Bill Green
Hoping for the best is not an effective strategy.
Prayer is not a business strategy.
I hear so many entrepreneurs, marketing managers, even vice presidents and CEOs say things like, “I hope we get that new account, I hope we hit our sales goal, I hope we make our budget.”
The first question that comes to my mind is, “What are you hoping for? Make it happen.”
When someone says the words, “I hope,” a red light goes off in my mind letting me know they don’t have a plan. They are hoping for an outcome because they aren’t sure of how they’re going to get there–and hoping is always easier than digging into the work.
There’s a famous quote by Stephen Ambrose that says, “Where there is a will, there’s a way.” He’s also known for this quote: “Plan your work and work your plan.” The first time I heard this advice was when Ross Perot was running for president in 1992. As an independent candidate, winning was an uphill battle–and yet he still won 18.9 percent of the popular vote. His no-nonsense business approach to running the country was something that resonated with me for years.
In every one of my companies, I work hard to remove “I hope” statements from our culture, and focus more on cultivating an environment where “Here’s how” statements can lead the way. In order to do that, I’ve had to really nurture employees and fellow leadership team members to not just think or talk about executing, but to actually dig their heels in and get things done.
The key to creating a culture of “doers” and not “wishers” is to measure as many things as possible within your business. Not to the point where people are spending more time filling out Excel spreadsheets than they are making productive strides forward, but enough to know whether you’re in “hope” territory or on the path to success. As the old saying goes, “What gets measured gets done.”
I share a wide variety of examples in my book, All In. One very clear measure-for-success example is something I’m currently experiencing with my most recent company, LendingOne. In our industry, there are many other private lenders and competitors, so we’ve continuously had to ask how to get real estate investors to call us. If we were to just send out advertisements, invest in some marketing, and hope for them to call, we’d be doing ourselves a great disservice. That’s not a business strategy, because most of the time you end up sitting around, waiting.
Instead, we’ve had to build very clear systems to build leads. We go so far as to monitor and measure daily and weekly performance against our sales plan. If something doesn’t seem to be working, we change our plan. And sometimes, even if things aren’t working, we fix it anyway–because we want to know if there’s an even better way of doing things.
Most businesses love the planning part. They love brainstorming all the things they “could” do. Some make it to the execution phase, where those plans are beginning to materialize and generate some sort of movement forward for the business. But the truth is, most businesses fail at the third part, which comes down to measuring their own success–and then iterating from there.
Without measurement, your efforts are no better than shooting in the dark. You don’t know what’s working, what isn’t, and by how much. You don’t know what’s worked in the past, and it becomes tremendously difficult to make assumptions of what would work better moving forward.
Putting a plan in place and “hoping” for an outcome isn’t a strategy. It’s an excuse.
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