This week I undertook a juice cleanse. I decided it would be good for my body to take a rest from all the stress I put it under with challenging meal schedules, likely inappropriate foods (okay, for sure inappropriate foods) and perhaps too much wine. All good reasons to slow down, re-evaluate and give my body a bit of a break. That said, it’s impossible to change everything all at once. But I figured that a cleanse might be a manageable step in the right direction. I have always believed that taking simple, deliberate steps forward, focusing on incremental progress, is one of the keys to building true success. The idea of a juice cleanse made complete sense, but that’s me. I don’t think it’s necessarily important what path you take – some people swear by high-intensity workouts, others are more comfortable with cleanses or regulating the types of food they eat – but whatever the method, it’s clear that taking good care of our bodies is crucial. Our bodies just simply work better when we get rid of bad habits and focus on the nutrition that’s right for us.
As entrepreneurs, we also need to cleanse. For example, sometimes our enterprises get bogged down and don’t run efficiently because old processes and old views are slowing us down. I’m guessing you likely have said, more than once, “We’ve tried this before and it failed.” Or here’s another favorite, “That’s not how we do things.” It’s a direct parallel to how I was feeling physically – subpar, rundown, out of sorts. These are symptoms you need to stop and think about, whether it’s your health or your business. It’s so easy to get into a rut. We do things out of habit because it’s easy. But is it what’s best for you? Your body is speaking to you all the time, and so is your business. Are sales sluggish? Is productivity low? Your business is likely telling you in its own way that the status quo isn’t delivering the same high performance results it used to. And when that happens those past answers don’t work. You need to allow your business to reset itself and function at its optimum level for the stage it is at.
So I asked myself what an equivalent of a cleanse might be for a business. Here’s what I came up with.
Day 1. Take 20 minutes and write down the things that are frustrating you the most about your business operations.
Day 2. Take 20 minutes and, beside each of those items, write down whether it’s a process problem, a business model problem or a “you” problem. Yes, a you problem.
Day 3. Take an hour and share your thoughts with your team. Ask them how they would tackle solving the items on your list. Get their input and views. Nobody knows the reality of day to day challenges like your front line team.
Day 4. Take ONE item – the one you know is most critical for fixing the problem that bugged you the most – and create an action list of the steps you are going to take to solve it, with the help of your team.
Day 5. Give your team the mandate. Set the goal to resolve the problem. Throw out the old. Reimagine the existing. Get rid of the pain.
Solving problems one step at a time is the simplest way to move forward. Don’t try and boil the ocean by taking on everything at once. Be okay with failing and trying again. Just like a diet, we all can fall off the wagon but that doesn’t and should never stop us from keeping our businesses and ourselves running at our optimum fitness level.