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Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

December 10, 2002
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As I write this, the excitement of the 2002 World Series is drawing to a close, the Anaheim Angels having defeated the San Francisco Giants in seven games. I remember my father telling me that success in baseball, with its many complexities, is predicated on one thing: keeping your eye on the ball.

Whether hitting, base running or fielding, it is critical to remain focused and never lose sight of the ball. The same lesson, with only a slight modification, can be applied to achieving success in operating a service business: never lose sight of the primary purpose and goal of the business.

Obviously, you cannot focus on your business purpose and goal until you have a clear picture of what they look like. Identify your reason(s) for being in business and consider what a successful business looks like. If you have trouble doing this, visit a successful company that is similar to yours to see and feel how it operates. This picture of where you want to go will help carry you through those days when things go wrong and you wonder why you are in this anyway.

Next, quantify that goal by determining how much business must be produced in order to achieve the picture of success. Then decide how soon you want to be there. Starting with your present volume and ending with your goal, you can divide by time to determine the rate of growth and figure exactly what you need to do to reach that goal.

For example
If your goal is to take your $100,000/year company and grow it to $200,000/year in 5 years, you need to add $20,000/year in volume ($200,000 - $100,000 ¿ 5 years = $20,000/year). That works out to an increase of about $1,700 a month, or around $425 a week.

If your average job brings in $175, then you need to add 2.5 jobs each week, or one additional job every other day, to reach your goal. Another way to view this would be to divide the $425 weekly increase by six working days (assuming you work six days. If you work five, divide by five). This results in $70.80 per day.

While the challenge of increasing your business by $100,000 might appear to be a bit daunting, finding at least one additional job every other day looks a little more like something that can be accomplished.

Now you have your focus. You need to make $71 more a day to reach your goal and achieve your picture of a successful business. That $71 could be the result of an additional sofa cleaning, two rooms of carpet protector, or from a job cleaning a neighbor’s house that is picked up from your “5 around” door hangers.

Remain focused on the aspects of the business that contribute toward your goal. Everything you do in your company should result in either increasing income or reducing expenses. If an activity does not result in either, it does not belong in your business. Don’t get distracted. Keep your eye on the ball.

It all starts with getting the real “want to” goal quantified and broken down into real-world totals that can be focused on. Keep your focus on the day-to-day goal, and much of the big picture takes care of itself.

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