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Table of Contents

Intro: The Real Cost of Bad Behavior

This article talks about 11 very common bad behaviors that business owners, entrepreneurs and employees routinely bring into the workplace. Sadly, the chances are very good that if you are doing any of these activities it will cost you dearly. What makes things worse is that you will likely have no idea of the impact theses bad behaviors bring today and the effects of these activities will be felt long into the future.

If you're engaging in these behaviors you are setting yourself up for certain business failure. If you knew the consequences of them and still insisted on doing them you would either be:

  1. Hamstringing your success (making a deliberate act of self-sabotage).
  2. Be blissfully riding the calm waters today with no idea of the storm you are sailing in to.

Even if you have managed to grow your business grow and see some success while still doing these activities failing to address them now will ensure an increasing cost down the line. In other words do not think you can outfox these flaws in your business.

Most successful business owners have earned their stripes learning these lessons the hard way. I have been involved with many organizations riding high only to collapse because of what I talk about here. I have also worked with those businesses picking up the pieces after disaster has struck. Countless entrepreneurs indeed learn these lessons the hard way, suffering through countless failures. If you do not address these behaviors you will fail, it is inevitable and so it is vitally important to learn to recognize them and eliminate, reduce or mitigate them now.

If you don't chose to take specific action to stamp these out now failure will follow you around like a bad smell.

While it is true that engaging in these these behaviors will cause you to fail if they're not addressed, failure can be avoided by taking corrective action. And while success is never really certain it is far more likely when you working without the brakes on.

Sadly it is more than likely nobody explained these behaviors to you. Nobody took the time to educate you about the impact they have on you and your endeavours. My goal in writing this article is to do just that, deliver you the knowledge you need to battle these behaviors and win!

First I will show you what these behaviors are, the consequences they bring. Next, I'll give you some detailed steps to find and remove them and a framework to use to decide what is most important. First, to make you understand the “what” – what these behaviors are and what kind of damage they will inflict on you. After that, you need to understand how to fix them.

Your Business Lives or Dies Because of You

It does not matter if you work from home, the coffee shop or a corporate office. It does not matter if you are a one man show or a CEO commanding a vast army of employees, success or failure of your business rests on your shoulders. When you are on your own, it is pretty obvious how your behaviors will affect you. But with these, there's a much more insidious effect. As your business grows, you will become institutionalized within the rest of your team. You'll tell your team “this is the way things are done here,” whether explicitly or by example of your actions. As the leader of your business, you're in a fish-bowl. Your behaviors are under scrutiny by everyone.

You effectively set the standards for all behaviors within your company. And if you do it poorly, it creates a self-feeding spiral effect that rots your business from the inside.

Think about this. Have you had trouble getting your business off the ground thinking you've perhaps selected the wrong niche? If you have, it may not be the niche; it's more likely one of these behaviors.

Have you grown your business a bit but suddenly plateaued and can't seem to get any more forward movement? It may not be your processes but rather one or more of these behaviors beginning to show themselves.

Has your business started to recede or regress despite your redoubled efforts to keep it moving forward? It might not be the economy, but instead the effects of these behaviors coming home to roost.

The bigger you get the more impact they have. And the harder they become to fix. But…

Fix Bad Behaviors, Reap Awesome Rewards

When you identify and correct any of these bad behaviors you will remove the enormous obstacles that lead to certain failure. And more than that, you'll get a whole laundry list of benefits that will make your business more successful. You'll see remarkably different results.

You'll be able to get more done in less time. You'll lighten your work load so you can create more and offer more. You'll be more in control of your business than ever before. Your organization will run much more smoothly, more profitably.

You'll no longer have lingering doubts about the decisions you make or the courses you plot. You can say goodbye to any nagging concerns or worries about your own ability because your new behaviors will make sure you are on top of your game at all times. You'll be certain that your success will never be held back by your own performance ever again.

You'll get more out of your employees. You'll leverage opportunities you're presented to much greater return. You'll build an environment of trust within your company and between you and every one you come in contact with.

You'll reap the full rewards of any new strategy, tactic, idea or concept because anybody that interacts with you will have full confidence in you as well. When they do, they'll invest in you fully because they know that they're ultimately helping themselves by helping you achieve your total success.

In short, you'll achieve your goal of becoming a strategic entrepreneur and therefore making your business work for you, instead of you slaving to serve it.

You'll wonder what was ever holding you back in the first place. OK. Enough warm up. Time to get down to business building.

The Business Killing Behaviors

All behaviors have consequences. In order for a business to succeed, the business leader, as well as every other single member of the team must properly engage in the following four behaviors:

  • You must determine the Appropriate Objectives that will carry your business toward your goal and then ensure your entire team is aligned with them.
  • Every person on your team must target their Focus and Attention on the fewest necessary steps critical to your success.
  • Both you and your employees must consistently Follow Through on every action that will ensure your eventual success.
  • You and everyone who interacts with your business must be Accountable for the results necessary to achieve your goals.

These four behaviors are “conditional.” By that I mean it doesn't matter how stellar your performance in one behavior is if you missed the boat on one of the preceding behaviors.

What good is follow-through without proper focus and attention to your goals? If you are focused without having established clear, precise, appropriate objectives, you'll be focusing on all the wrong things.

They're also “cumulative.” That means that, engaged in correctly, they combine to produce incredibly positive results that will drive your business to the success you want.

But the inverse is also true. If you behave inappropriately, they'll act like a row of dominoes. Tip (fail at) a behavior early in the line and the rest will come toppling down around you. You simply will not be able to move forward. In fact, you'll have the fight of your life just to keep from sliding backward. All your efforts to advance your business will be wasted.

These are the four “Top-Level Behaviors” critical to your business. In and of themselves, they won't guarantee success, but will seal your fate if you engage in them the wrong way.

Think of them as four dominos lined up. A failure to behave properly is like tipping one of them over that will send the other dominos ahead toppling to block your path to success. Doesn't matter where along the line you fail.

If you fail at setting appropriate objectives, you won't be focused on doing the essential things you need to do to make your business succeed. Your ability to follow through will be impaired (although it won't matter since you wouldn't be following through on the most important things anyway.) And you'll never be able to hold yourself or any member of your team accountable.

If you set appropriate objectives and keep a sharp focus on them but fail to follow through, you'll still never be able to hold yourself or anyone else accountable. That final domino will ultimately be your undoing.

Make sense? Why do I call them “Top-Level Behaviors?” Two reasons.

First, because these are behaviors that directly impact your business. They need to be displayed throughout your entire company. They are behaviors that impact everyone and everything. And their effects become pervasive throughout your entire business.

Proper objectives and responsibilities have to be addressed by you, broken down and assigned to the appropriate people working for your business. Focus has to be exhibited by every single person working toward your business goals. Follow through has to be the norm and accountability must be a given throughout your whole company.

It's up to you to ensure that they are.

The second reason is something else you have to be aware of.

==Supportive Behaviors That Can Turn Destructive – Behaviors Specific to YOU==

As I said, these four top-level behaviors must be “default behaviors” throughout your entire business. They have to be “the way we do things here.” From you down through your last employee. Everyone in your company must display these behaviors consistently.

But as the leader, the Founder of your business, you have other specific responsibilities that come along with your role. You are solely responsible for certain “supportive behaviors.” Engage in them properly and they will help you 1) correctly exhibit the top-level behaviors 2) reinforce the top-level behaviors in everyone you associate with and therefore 3) be the leader your company needs to succeed and motivate those around you to do their best to move your business forward. If you don't, however, these specific behaviors become lethal, destructive forces in your life and your business.

Let me explain. Making decisions is one of the “supportive behaviors” of setting appropriate objectives. As the Founder of your business, making important decisions falls squarely on your shoulders. You have to be able to quickly and effectively assess the factors that are involved in that decision and make a choice in order to move forward. We'll get into it more in depth in just a minute, but decisions are about eliminating options – about making a commitment. And indecision is often a symptom of not wanting to make that commitment.

Setting appropriate objectives, the top-level behavior, is all about committing to a clear direction for your business – deciding on the fewest steps that must be taken to achieve success and taking them. Hem and haw and you'll never be able to set clear, precise goals or determine the proper steps to achieve them.

Your lack of a clearly defined goal then impacts your employees as well. If you can't define your goals clearly to them, they won't have a clear idea of what their goals should be. But can't you simply dole out tasks to your employees and let them go? Doesn't work that way. Things in business change. No matter how carefully you plan, you'll never be able to foresee every detail along the way to your goals. For that reason, every employee has to understand the overarching goal your business is trying to achieve. If they don't, they'll come running back to you every time something changes. If they don't, you simply won't get the results you're after. They need to understand the task in terms of the larger objective.

The military does it all the time. With the every battle plan they create something called a Commanders Intent (CI). The CI explains clearly what the overall objective of any mission is. Should something change during the plan's execution, whether it be the weather or the loss of an asset, the soldiers are able to adapt the plan to accomplish the CI – the ultimate goal. But only if they have a clear understanding of what it is.

And that all comes back to you being able to make a decision – a commitment. If you can't do that, you'll never precisely define your goals and you'll never be able to clearly communicate it to your employees. You'll be leading them down a path to nowhere.

I call these behaviors beneath each top-level behavior “supportive” behaviors.

They are independent, personal behaviors that can either thwart or support your behavior at the top-level. If you don't engage in these “supportive” behaviors correctly, it will be impossible to properly engage in the top-level behavior either. And as I said before, if you fail at one top-level behavior, all your ensuing behaviors will be wasted effort.

Now can you see how important these are? What's at stake here? Consistent failure at even one of the supportive behaviors can cause your whole business to fail.

These supportive behaviors are independent of each other. A failure in one of them won't necessarily mean failure at the other supportive behaviors. What it does ensure is failure at the top-level behavior. And that is guaranteed to set the whole chain reaction of business disaster in motion.

While there are literally hundreds, these are the most common obstacles I see among my clients that threaten their top-level behaviors and ultimately block their paths to success.

You can see how dangerous a web this becomes. One faulty behavior pattern anywhere within the arrangement and the whole configuration can come tumbling down.

I told you this wasn't going to be a pleasant report. But if you “suck it up” and get through it, I guarantee it will be immensely profitable. And you can also see why it's so important to be conscious of these behaviors and act appropriately in each situation.

Consistently engaging in certain types of behaviors creates patterns of effects that entrench themselves in your business. Effects that can either make success simpler and more likely, or much more difficult.

What's worse, some of these effects are not initially obvious. That means right now, you may have no idea the price you're paying for seemingly insignificant behaviors.

Let's drill down and dissect each, taking an in depth look at both the primary behaviors as well as their subordinate behaviors.

=Top-Level Behavior #1: Setting Appropriate Objectives=

Just like any building needs a solid architectural design, every super-successful business must be purposely designed and built to achieve a specific set of appropriate objectives. Goals and accomplishments that will drive you to the success you desire. So what is your business designed to accomplish? Let me tell you.

Right now, your business is perfectly designed to achieve the results you are getting. If you aren't getting the results you want, that means you simply haven't designed a business that will get them for you.

When you set appropriate objectives (the ones that get you to your goals the fastest,) you focus your company like a laser. Because every decision you make, whether it be to outsource or not, which marketing channels to leverage, will be judged by its ability to move your business closer to your stated objectives.

So how do you determine and set your appropriate objectives?

Honestly, the specifics of this behavior will differ from business to business. Depending on whether you're an information marketer or you sell custom T-shirts on line, objectives appropriate to your specific business will vary.

But as a strategic entrepreneur, there is one overriding definition you can use as a yard stick to engage in this behavior properly. Appropriate Objectives are the fewest number of accomplishments – the least number of objectives you can determine – that will allow you to reach your goals.

This is really at the heart of what it means to be a strategic entrepreneur. It's the core idea that makes your business efficient and profitable.

Think about it, what sense does it make to take fifteen steps, when only five will get you where you want to go? Adding to your workload only costs more time and reduces your productivity. And piling on extra work to any job will only reduce your focus and commitment to the things that are really important.

Why Do Entrepreneurs Set Inappropriate Objectives?

We all fall into the trap of this behavior from time to time. Do you have a to-do list that doesn't end? Have one of those days every week or month you dread because you know you're going to have to put in 12 or more hours to get everything done? Have certain aspects of your business simply become a grind?

Are you always running from one thing to the next without the proper time to dedicate to the really important things in your business? Do you ever lack clarity on what needs to get done today, this week, this month? Have you ever looked back over the past 6 or 12 months in disappointment at what you achieved, especially when you consider how hard you worked to move your business forward?

If you answered yes to any of those, you're probably guilty of chasing too many meaningless tasks instead of working on your fewest appropriate objectives. That's the difference between opportunity seekers and successful strategic entrepreneurs. Opportunity seekers always ask, “What else can I do now?” while strategic entrepreneurs ask “what is the absolute minimum that must be done.”

Believe me it's not difficult to fall into the trap of adding inappropriate objectives to our goals. I see it with clients often. That's because it's easy to drill down to the objectives that might be important to achieve success in your business. It's much more challenging to drill that list down even further to only what's absolutely essential – your appropriate objectives. Like anything, determining your fewest and most essential objectives isn't something you do overnight. It takes some time, effort and critical analysis. You have to know your market, your prospects and customers, your competitors, the possible strategies and tactics you can employ. (And that's the short list!)

You may not get it right on the first try, but any significant thought you put into this process will generate positive returns. And the good news is, when you finally nail it, your business will be launched like a fighter jet off an aircraft carrier. You'll be rocketing to your goals at Mach-2! (And in the pages of this report, I'm going to show you how.)

Once you get it done, of course, life becomes incredibly easier.

You'll always be sure you're only expending your energy and resources on the things that are absolutely necessary to your success. There will be no letting any extraneous behaviors into the mix that will cause you to backslide from where you are. Your business will become a lean, mean profit growing machine.

And as it begins to grow, you'll add even more resources all designed and aligned to achieve your objectives even faster. You'll keep moving forward, growing and expanding with the minimum amount of effort on your part. No more days of endless work on irrelevant business “chores.”

The Dangers of Inappropriate Objectives

Let me begin with a quick explanation. There are two types of inappropriate objectives that entrepreneurs suffer from. There are wrong objectives. These are objectives that simply don't align with the goals you set for your business. Unfortunately, there's only one way to be certain whether your objectives are wrong or not – if you execute them and you don't see the results you want. Unfortunately, this has to be your responsibility.

Then there are the inappropriate objectives I see far more frequently in my coaching clients – too many objectives.

If you've been a long time member of the Founders Club you know that one of the keys to being a business Founder is to have the fewest objectives.

It's imperative that you get to work on establishing only the essential appropriate objectives right now. To make sure your path to success is clear and not littered with “fake” work that will sidetrack and eventually derail your every effort.

So, if they're so important, why do so many entrepreneurs miss this key step? Well… there are a lot of reasons.

Some entrepreneurs have avoidance issues where decision making is concerned. Making decisions involves commitment – eliminating choices and options and some entrepreneurs struggle with that. (I'll tell you more about it and how to conquer any decision making doubts you may have later in this article.)

Some entrepreneurs don't know enough about their overall business model to properly determine their essential objectives. (A critical point I'll talk more about in just a second.)

And some simply don't realize the absolute importance of doing it. (Of course, now you do!) But no matter what their reason for skipping this essential step, the effects are all the same.

At a solo, small business level the consequences of setting inappropriate objectives will mean wasting your time with little or no progress. But the bigger your business gets, the greater the costs to you and your business. Inappropriate objectives become like a weight your business can't support – crushing you, the business and everyone involved. The toll they exact is painful and energy-draining at any level and is among the chief causes for failure among those just starting out. Here's why…

First and foremost, they'll create excessive, redundant and marginally important work for you. You'll end up spending time learning the things you don't need to know, doing things that don't need to be done, and neglecting the priorities that should be demanding your full attention. When you get spread too thin, chasing after less important goals, your progress will eventually stall. You'll find yourself physically, mentally and financially drained. You'll find yourself mired in tasks that are offering minimal or no return on your sweat investment. That's important. Remember, as a strategic entrepreneur, the thing that sets you apart from the 9-to-5er is your willingness to take entrepreneurial risks. And every objective you set for yourself has a certain amount of risk in it.

For example, whether or not it will actually move you closer to the goal you're after. Whether or not an objective is the best use of your limited time and scarce resources – whether it's more beneficial than the other things you'll have to say “no” to.

Obviously, your goal is to make those risks pay off. That means you have to be sure that every objective you set has an explicit and well defined purpose in leading you down the path to success.

Watch what happens if you don't.

When you set too many inappropriate objectives, unreasonable demands are made on your attention. And that attacks your ability to focus. You become scattered among too many (often irrelevant) projects and are blocked from properly engaging in the next primary behavior. When you're not properly focused on all the objectives you set, your ability to follow through and complete your tasks becomes impaired. And accountability becomes a near impossibility.

Can you see how, when one domino falls, the chain reaction it sparks? Moreover, in your efforts to do too much, you end up getting the exact opposite of what motivated you to take on too much in the first place. By doing MORE, you actually end up getting LESS.

If that wasn't bad enough, consider what happens if you were fortunate enough to experience any degree of significant business growth, despite your focus on too many inappropriate objectives.

If your business does grow, the effects of this damaging behavior will spread throughout it. What was originally damaging only for you now becomes a problem for your entire team. Your employees get derailed from the specific goals you are ultimately trying to achieve when they have to focus on irrelevant and superfluous tasks. “Fake work” that prevents them from focusing on those few important things necessary to move your business forward.

This behavior actually spreads like a disease from you to the rest of your team. Their work load increases as they juggle multiple, marginally important tasks. Their stress level increases too. Meanwhile their performance and efficiency plummet. Your entire business begins to underperform.

Your costs skyrocket too. The net effect of every dollar you invest in payroll or independent contractors is reduced to pennies of return because of all the wasted effort. The bigger your business, when you engage in this behavior, the more it hits you in the wallet.

And its effects become worse still. Without a small clearly defined set of objectives, it's next to impossible to create meaningful metrics to help you assess your actions and guide your progress. Without clear appropriate objectives, you can't judge the progress of a project in progress. You won't know if you're on track or not. Whether you're moving up the mountain toward your success, or stalled at the edge of a cliff waiting to teeter over the edge.

If your business is able to meet with any level of success while chasing too many inappropriate objectives, the amount of irrelevant, unimportant activity you do will blur the real causes of your success. Which means you won't be able to create a repeatable system of activities that contribute to your success while eliminating those that don't.

You're stuck in a business quagmire of your own making.

Finding Your Appropriate Objectives Means Huge Success

But, when you zero in on your appropriate objectives, and ONLY your appropriate objectives, you'll start to see things change within your business almost immediately.

You'll become crystal clear on what your goals are at all times. You'll be able to tell in an instant what opportunities are in line with your ultimate goals and which aren't. Decisions will become a snap. You'll make immediate and constant progress. You'll start to see your income grow, your business expand and ultimately not only achieve but exceed your wildest dreams of success and faster than you ever dreamed possible. And that brings us to the next question.

What are YOUR appropriate objectives?

So what are your appropriate objectives?

Here's the bad news. I can't tell you. No one can. It is something you have to determine on your own. But to simplify the process, I can give you a series of questions that you can use to help zero in on the exact things you need to accomplish.

There are three high-level questions I want you to answer first. They should sound familiar. I posed them to you in your last Founder's report. So if you did the exercises then, you should be halfway home.

These are the three questions you must answer first, before anything else:

  1. What exactly do I want from my business?
  2. What is the absolute minimum necessary I need to achieve it?
  3. What is the fastest and easiest path to get it done?

They're three simple questions. But it's not an easy task to answer them, and I don't want you to get sidetracked. So I want to walk you through them and expand on them in detail to make sure, 1) you completely understand what they're asking and 2) that you're able to answer them fully.

Take some time to go through them now. They are absolutely essential in determining your correct objectives. Let's get started.

1) What exactly do I want from my business? This is asking specifically how you define the business success that you're seeking. Be specific here. Being vague will not help you and you'll only end up wasting your time. Think it through and make a list.

Are there a set number of hours you want to work every week? Do you have a goal in mind for your customer base size? Is there an amount of money that you consider success? Give this some serious thought. You can probably come up with a number of ideas

2) What is the absolute minimum necessary I need to achieve it? Now, if there is one area where most aspiring entrepreneurs come up short, it's answering this question. This question is asking you to describe the model of your business – the actual engine that drives it. This is a list of the actual components, assets, resources, strategies etc. your business needs to achieve your goals. In other words, describe what a business, perfectly designed to achieve your goals would look like.

Let me get you started with a few examples of what I mean:

  1. How many new leads would that ideal business need to get each month, week, and day to achieve your business goals?
  2. What are the fewest channels that an ideal business could market through to get that number?
  3. What tactics are most effective in that ideal business' space for converting prospects into customers?
  4. What methods and strategies are essential for that business to achieve your success?
  5. What kind of product line does it need?
  6. How many products should it consider selling?
  7. What should their price points be?

(I've left a few lines at the bottom of this section for you to jot some notes, but I'd strongly recommend that you get your journal or a separate pad of paper and do this list completely.)

TAKE NOTE: if you're struggling in this section, it might be a huge red flag where your business is concerned. You might actually need to take a step back and learn how to determine these business basics. 3) What is the fastest and easiest path to get it done? You must have clear goals and targets, and a complete list of the assets and strategies you'll need to achieve them, before you can take on number three. If you don't, you'll be wasting your time spinning your wheels. I've seen this time and again. You'll be trying to plot a path, with no certainty where that path will to lead you. That's a sure fire way to get lost – and ultimately fail. So here we go.

In this step, take the list of components you need to reach your goals – the things you wrote in question 2 – and line them up against your current business model. Compare the lists.

Here's an example: In question #2, let's say you determined your “ideal” business needs to generate 4000 new leads per month – that's 1000 new leads per week or 200 leads per day. But your current business model is only generating 500 new leads per month or 25 leads per day. So, one of your priority accomplishments must be to increase your lead acquisition by 700% or 175 leads per day.

Or let's say you're able to acquire the 200 leads your “ideal” business needs every day, what is your conversion rate of turning them into paying customers? If your ideal business converts at 40%, but your current rate of conversion is only 18% you won't be meeting your goals.

Conversion tactics then have to become a priority for you.

Do that with everything on your list from number 2 and check it against everything you have in your current business.

Completing step 3 will tell you where you are now and more importantly where you need to go. It will show you precisely where you're falling short, what essential needs you’re missing, where you're expending too much time and effort on things that aren't moving you toward your ultimate goal. In short, it will lay out the fastest path to building a business perfectly designed to rocket you toward your goals.

Appropriate Objectives are the Foundation of Your Business Success

By now it should be obvious why it's so critical to get this behavior right. It's the concept at the very heart of being a strategic entrepreneur.

You may be wondering if there is a particular number of objectives that are ideal. There's not. It all depends on how aggressive your goals are and where you are in getting started. But remember – your goal is to have the least number of them.

If you don't have them in place already, you must get on this immediately and create your objectives ASAP. The longer you wait the more time you'll waste and the closer the disastrous effects of this behavior will have on your business.

When you get your objectives set properly, they act like a guard rail keeping you on track, moving forward to success.

Remember, proper objectives are necessary to succeed. Without them, your business strategy will be based on getting lucky – which is rarer than winning the lottery.

But just because this step is necessary, it doesn't mean that it's sufficient. If it were only that easy, right? So let's dig a little deeper and look at the supportive personal behaviors and expose the challenges that will interfere with you setting proper objectives.

Appropriate Objectives Supportive / Destructive Behavior #1: Being Decisive vs. Indecision

Being able to make decisions is the first supportive personal behavior I want to talk to you about in this article.

Remember, I call these “supportive behaviors” because if you engage in them properly, they make achieving top-level success much easier. If you don't, they have a destructive side – an “evil twin” – that will lead to failure at the top level and in your business. They are the most common obstacles that I see blocking my clients from achieving successful, proper top-level behaviors.

Also, they primarily have to do with you. They are actions you take independent of your business, that still have an enormous impact on it. Indecision is paramount among them.

The relationship between this and the primary behavior should be self-evident. You have to be able to make lots of decisions in order to set your appropriate objectives. If you hem and haw over every little decision, you'll never set appropriate objectives.

One of the realities of life is, you can't know all the facts about every decision, and there's rarely one key fact that switches on the light bulb. And in spite of this, you still have to make decisions. The bigger your business gets, the less certainty you can have about any decisions because there will be more factors, more variables involved. Heck, the bigger your business the more decisions you'll face, period.

In certain ways, indecision is nothing more than procrastinating. You don't want to decide. You put off making a decision. And generally you do it for absolutely no good reason. You can have all the facts in front of you. All the information you need and you still refuse to make a choice.

That's because indecision is about keeping as many options open as possible, while decisions are about making commitments. I'll talk more about that in a second.

I want to tell you why your decision making ability is so critical and what you can do to change this behavior if necessary. But first let me ask you a question…

Are You Indecisive?

Has someone ever asked you to go out for a beer at the end of the week and you responded by saying you'd let them know in a couple days? Have you ever answered like that even though you knew you had nothing going on Friday? When you were certain that nothing was going to change between now and the end of the week?

That's indecision. The simple avoidance of making a commitment.

Some people think being an effective decision maker is some kind of innate ability. That if you're not born with it, you're doomed to be indecisive. Not true. Indecision is unwillingness to make a decision. There are a lot of reasons for this. Too many to dig into in this report.

But there's a single cause I want to explain that lies at this behavior's root.

When you make a decision, you're effectively eliminating other alternatives. Thinking about that beer on Friday, you may tell yourself you have reasons for postponing the decision like something may come up, or I'll see how I feel on Friday. But those aren't real reasons. They're simply excuses for not deciding and making a commitment.

Why do you do it?

If you've ever found yourself in that kind of predicament, there's a reason.

Your reluctance most likely stems from not understanding how to make a solid, informed decision. And the good news is that there is a simple step you can retrain yourself to do.

Entrepreneurs are faced with risks every day. It's part of the territory. The idea when you make a decision is to minimize the risks that are present in that decision. The least risk and the most benefit.

And this much I can promise you. Once you retrain yourself to start making decisions instead of avoiding them you're going to find they become easier and easier. Even the ones that used to paralyze you.

You'll make better decisions because you'll ultimately have a clearer picture of what you need to get done to achieve your goals. Think about the confidence, the progress and growth you'll see in your business. You'll instantly have sharper insights into all kinds of business situations. You won't shy away from decision making anymore.

Instead you'll face all kinds of issues that require your attention, both the planned and unexpected, with more trust in yourself. Because you'll understand how to weigh the risks and tradeoffs inherent in any decision, and judge how they will affect you on the path to your goals. You'll act with more conviction that the objectives you undertake will ultimately benefit the business. And this behavior will grow on itself. Purposeful forward actions breed more forward actions.

The Danger of Indecision

But again, I have to warn you not to take this lightly. The decisions you will have to make will not always be easy and more times than not they will have wide ranging implications.

For example, the other day, I had an all-day meeting with a client. I wanted to check in on a project at the office before I headed down there. When we sat down, my web designer had a few questions about the project.

He wound up asking a laundry list of questions – things that I wasn't even sure of myself. But I still had to make a decision about them right there. I was going to be out of the office the rest of the day and if one of these questions popped up while I was gone, he'd have had to put the whole project on hold until I got back to the office. What a waste of time and resources that would have been.

When you're working on your own and you don't make a decision, nothing gets done. It slows your ability to accomplish any task. It diminishes your ability to grow.

But when you're in a team environment, the decisions you make affect the actions and behaviors of everyone around you. That magnifies the impact of your decisions. It puts greater pressure on you. It can cause you to recoil from making important decisions even further. And that begins the downward spiral to business failure.

There's another very important intangible effect of indecision.

It takes a huge chunk out of your self-confidence. And when you lack self-confidence, it makes every decision feel like a life or death battle. It actually makes you question your own abilities.

If you bend to the pressure of making a simple decision as a solo operator, what do you think the pressure will be like when the weight of an entire company – your employees – is resting on the decisions you make?

As your business grows, your decisions will begin to have more significant financial impacts on your business. Because the actions others in your company take will depend on the decisions you make. They will become more like life and death decisions. How will you react to making a decision then?

In a bigger business, it's not just you anymore, but rather your whole team that gets put into a holding pattern. By the simple inaction of not being able to make a decision, your productivity and efficiency will drop off at every level of your business. It becomes a huge drain of both manpower and money.

And that lack of confidence begins to spread as well. Your employees will sense your reticence to face important decisions. Then they will begin to lack confidence in the direction you're taking the company. It diminishes their loyalty both to you and the mission of your business. They won't go that extra mile to make your business a stand out.

Without choosing a clear focused path of action, it will create confusion within your organization.

You start missing out on many very profitable opportunities. The list goes on and on.

The point is if you engage in this behavior badly, it has will have the effect of poisoning your business. Of damaging your own image of yourself as well as the perception others have of you. And that in turn will affect their performance.

So if you've ever waffled over making a decision, you have to start working to correct it now. A year or six months from now, it may be too late.

How do you go about correcting indecisive behavior?

Decision Making is a Learned Behavior

The key to being a strategic entrepreneur is being able to get more accomplished with less effort on your part. It has to start with a willingness on your part to move forward. Often we think we have that willingness but it's easy to get stalled, especially early on. Especially if you're not exhibiting the proper behaviors you need as an entrepreneur. If this is your first venture into business, then it's likely not your fault. There's a big difference in the skills and responsibilities between employees and Founders.

Learning to make decisions will launch you in the right direction. If it's something you haven't had to do before, a responsibility you haven't been charged with, it will take a little time to learn and get used to. But once you do, you'll see your business in a whole new light.

And it goes deeper than that. This isn't a behavior that is specific to business. Yes, making solid decisions will propel your business ahead by leaps and bounds. But it will also have a profound impact in your personal life as well. One that will be felt in every area. Your family, your social groups, your place of worship.

That's why it is so critical that you assess your decision-making behavior and take immediate steps to correct if it is faulty.

Reprogramming Yourself for Action

The good news is, if you exhibit indecisive behavior, it's eminently correctable. Decision making is a learned behavior like anything else. You can retrain yourself to make decisions and make better decisions. And when you do it often enough, it becomes second nature, a behavior you do almost unconsciously. It boosts your confidence and the confidence of everyone around you. Let me tell you why.

When you make a decision, you are taking a form of action. Right or wrong, it is a form of action. Action is important in our subconscious minds. When we take action, we get a sense of accomplishment. We feel good. It's an act of “clearing your plate.”

Often times, we're weighed down by sheer number of things that we have to do. I'm willing to bet most of the things weighing on entrepreneurs are there simply because they haven't taken some sort of action on them. A decision hasn't been made.

Think about this. How many old emails have you opened but still not done anything with?

How many papers or reports are sitting on your desk? How many open files on your computer? Clutter like this is a sure sign that there is decision making problem at play.

Once you make a decision on an issue, that issue goes away. It may become a task for you to check up on later, but the original dilemma goes away. And you move forward.

When you overcome your resistance to making a decision, you immediately start to build more confidence in yourself. Confidence that grows with every decision you make, with every action you take. And that confidence will spill over to your team (if you have one.) Making a decision is the first step toward business inertia – forward progress that will feed on itself continuing to build momentum and taking you forward with less and less effort on your part.

So, how can you start changing this behavior?

The “How To” for Becoming a Decisive Leader

The solution is simple – and a bit scary.

If you find yourself putting off making a decision for no good reason – if you have all the facts you need at your disposal and understand them all, and still find yourself looking for some time to “think about it” – force yourself.

Demand a decision of yourself before you do anything else.

Making a decision is a question of commitment. And to be successful, you have to be able to commit to a course of action. Understand that there are always going to be risks involved in every decision you make. That's part of the territory you got into when you became an entrepreneur. If you make a mistake, you have to adjust. That's a simple fact of life. Something you learn from.

But in the meantime you must swallow your discomfort and make a decision.

One thing that will lessen your resistance to making a decision is the ability to minimize the risks associated with them. The best way to do that is to practice solid decision making skills. I want to share a few steps with you here. But let me explain a quick concept first.

One reason people resist eliminating alternatives is because they're afraid of making the “wrong” decision.

I want to clarify something. You have to understand there's an important difference between a “wrong” decision and a “bad” decision and “NO” decision. People tend to confuse the three.

A wrong decision is one where you evaluate all the facts and simply don't choose the best possible alternative. It happens and it's not the end of the world. The good news is you make less and less wrong decisions, the more decisions you make.

Let's go back to my example where I was dealing with my web designer. Let's say I told him to put a “share” button in a specific location on a web page. But I didn't realize that given how the other content was laid out, it pushed the button to “below the fold” on the page. Now it's not ideally located.

That would be a “wrong” decision. It's simply an error in judgment. We all do it. It's how we learn (which is why you make less of them as you learn.) Maybe the results from my page may not be optimal, but they won't be disastrous either. And I can always go back and fix the problem later. Or maybe my web designer will realize the mistake and fix it on his own.

A bad decision, on the other hand, is a judgment you make using faulty or incomplete data. It's making a decision based on fear or hope instead of the facts. Rarely do these ever work out and more often than not, the results are more painful both personally and financially. And even worse, you'll never learn anything from them.

Then there is no decision. This is even worse than a bad decision. With a bad decision, you may get lucky. You may make some progress.

Making no decision is too often the option entrepreneurs default to when they worry about making a wrong or bad decision. Rather than commit, they try to keep as many options open for as long as they can. They don't decide and nothing gets done. Their business starts to slide backwards from inaction. And ultimately indecision will destroy your business.

Steps to Ensure You're Making Sound Decisions

Here are a series of questions and an exercise you can ask yourself the next time you're faced with an important decision. Review them. Commit them to memory. Follow them when you have a big decision to make. They will make the process clearer, more comfortable, easier to shoulder. The more often you work through them for the big decisions, the smaller, less important decisions will become like child's play. Here we go.

Gut Check: When you're first confronted with a decision of any importance, check your gut. What do your instincts tell you about that decision? Is it a “go or no go”?

  • Step 1: Stop and think for a moment. Determine what the purpose of the decision is. What exactly is the problem to be solved and why you need to solve it. Another consideration you have to make at this point is what criteria you'll use to judge the results of your decision. The standards your decision should meet to be deemed successful.

Gut Check: Then check your gut again. Did anything change? Are you still in line with your original instincts? OK. Move on to the next question.

  • Step 2: Gather all the information about the decision you can. Get as much as you can, but be careful not to get stuck at this point. Realize there's always going to be some measure of uncertainty involved with making a decision. (The next step will help you minimize that uncertainty.) The quality of your information is just as important, if not more, than the quantity. But that doesn't mean you still don't have to be thorough.

Gut Check: Now stop and do your gut check again. Anything different? Are your original instincts still on? On to the next step.

  • Step 3: With this information in front of you, brainstorm as many courses of action as you can think of. Do some research at the library or online. See if you can find examples of what others have done in the same instance. Don't worry about results at this point. That comes later. Right now you want to focus all your creative energy on coming up with different alternatives. Usually there may be only a handful that seem to make sense, but don't discount the unorthodox idea.

Gut Check: Pause again and check your original gut decision. Are you still on board with it or has something come up to change it?

  • Step 4: Now comes the processing phase. You want to evaluate each possible course of action according to the judgment criteria you wrote down in the first step. Keep an open mind here. Be sure to consider all the pros and cons for each. If you come into new information during your evaluation, be sure to consider it even if it doesn't fall in line with the way you were leaning.

Gut Check: Again, time for a gut check. Still with your original assessment? Then on to the next step.

  • Step 5: Choose the best course of action. This should be pretty easy to do if you've followed the steps above.
  • Step6: Implement! Depending on how complex your chosen course of action is, you may need to break it down into parts. But in either case, get it done.
  • Step 7: Objectively evaluate the results of your decision. Be honest. Were all your goals met? Were they met to the standards you expected? If not, where did you fall short? Are there any lessons you can learn?

Can you see that changes will happen to you if you do this exercise? You'll be able to gauge your gut instincts about all kinds of decisions. If you find that your instincts tend to be on the money, even after all the research, you'll build enormous confidence in them.

If you find you're changing your initial thoughts at any point through, you'll uncover where your decision making is weak. You'll immediately know whether you need more and better information up front. You'll discover whether you're framing the goal of the decision properly. You'll see if you need to brainstorm more often to come up with different alternatives.

And most importantly, your decision making will get better and better. You'll go from indecisive and paralyzed, to a confident master of your business.

Remember, once these steps become ingrained in your thought patterns, you'll become a much more proficient decision maker. You'll find that you're less intimidated and more eager to take on challenges of new decisions. You'll take action to make more progress. You'll build confidence in yourself like you've never known before. And you'll command the confidence of those around you.

Appropriate Objectives Supportive / Destructive Behavior #2: Knowing Enough vs. Needing to Know It All

Let me tell you a quick story about a legendary industrialist.

In 1919, Henry Ford sued the Chicago Tribune newspaper for libel. The paper called him an “ignorant idealist” in an editorial because of his opposition to the United States involvement in World War I and his highly publicized assertion that “all history is bunk.”

While being grilled on the stand, Ford did prove his ignorance of history. But that didn't bother Henry. He acknowledged that he didn't have the greatest grasp of all subjects. (By academic standards, Henry Ford wasn't a well educated man at all.) But he also told the jury that with the push of a button on his desk, he could get whatever information he needed from expert sources.

And with only that much knowledge, he had a major hand in revolutionizing the industrial world.(Ford won the suit, by the way. But the jury only awarded him six cents!)

Imagine if Henry had felt the need to understand every concept, every nuance, every detail about business and the business he was building. He'd have never gotten off the ground, much less accomplish the things he did.

That's an important business behavior I call the “Know-It-All” dilemma.

Are You a “Know-It-All”?

When you're on your own, soloing it in business, sometimes you have to have a certain amount of knowledge about all the aspects of your business. But you only need to know “enough.” How do you know if you're starting to fall into the trap of trying to know it all?

Have you ever found yourself unsure of how to take action on a given goal? Or you know how to get started but you're uncertain what the next steps should be? You put everything on hold and start searching for answers to problems that haven't even appeared yet?

Have you bought courses even when you were unsure how you were going to use the information they offered?

Are you constantly spending more time on learning than on working?

Do you feel a need to double and triple check all the work that gets done in your business?

Do you feel like if you don't understand concepts at their most minute detail, you're not ready to move forward?

Do you feel like you can't hire or outsource an activity until you could do it yourself? These are all symptoms of the need to know it all.

And if you uncover any of them in your own actions, it's time to start making changes before their effects become permanent and destroy everything you've worked to build.

The need to know everything about a given subject before you take any action is a paralyzing need. It will stall you, slow you down, and make every objective more difficult than it has to be. It will create unnecessary work that doesn't move you forward but actually slows your progress.

The reality is, you don't need to know everything to get your business off the ground and growing. You simply need to know three key things: what you want from your business, what's the minimum necessary to achieve that end goal, and what is the fastest path to that end. (I covered them at length in the Appropriate Objective section.) From there, all you need to know is where to find the information that you need, when you need it.

Crushing Your Business Under Too Much Information

When you're just starting out, the truth is you do need to know a little bit about every aspect of your business. But just enough to get the job done by you or someone else.

In fact, there are some things you should never need to master. What are they? The things that have to be done with little or no frequency in your business. Things that you'll only do once or twice.

Think about it. There may be things that take three hours or three days to learn. But then you'll only do them once or twice in your business life. Why would you waste that time? I myself know nothing about setting up a blog. I could learn, but why? I only have one blog and its up and running. Why would I waste the time to master a skill I'll never use?

When you start looking to master skills you don't need to master, you immediately start to slow your growth and progress by setting up tasks and objectives that are unnecessary to achieving your goals.

Filling your plate with extraneous information also clouds the vision of what you should be working on.

But there are two even more important risks you run at the start up phase.

First, obsessing over knowing everything can lead to perfectionism. And that's dangerous because perfection is the enemy of creativity and success.

When you have to get every detail just so, you begin to focus all your resources on that detail, distracting them from other things you should be accomplishing. Like solving problems, devising new products and services, testing your ideas, better understanding your customers' needs, shaping or reshaping the vision for your company.

As an entrepreneur, your job is to provide better solutions to your customers' needs. And provide them in the fewest number of steps possible. Anything you do that detracts from your creativity in that area will hurt you and your business.

The second, and possibly even bigger risk is when you focus on knowing more and more, on getting every single detail just right, you run the risk missing out on the critical basics of what needs to be done to run your business.

Business knowledge is a little like high school algebra. You have to understand the basics before you move forward to higher levels. If you try to conquer higher level math problems without first mastering the basics, you're doomed to fail.

Same thing in your business. If you clutter your mind with all kind of minute details and information about how to get things done – the tactics – you're likely going to miss out on the big picture needs of what's necessary to run your business. You end up focusing on details that will get you nowhere, instead of the critical goals that will vault you to incredible levels of success.

The need to know it all often spreads your need for knowledge wide (or worse, sometimes deep in areas where you don't need that much depth of knowledge.)

Your knowledge should be deep in the areas that are critical running your business – the big principles of running your business.

The Risks Get Bigger as Your Business Does

These consequences expand and grow deeper as your business gets bigger.

When you have employees working for you, you'll likely have more projects to focus on. Being super-sensitive to details – especially as a perfectionist – can lead you to micro manage your business. The exact opposite of what a strategic entrepreneur wants to do.

The whole reason you hire top talent is to do the things you don't know how to do or don't have time to do. I really don't know anything about optimizing media campaigns. So I hired one of the best media strategists I could find. His whole world is that side of the business. So I let him do the job I hired him to do.

If you don't, it creates another set of consequences.

Micromanaging spawns employee resentment. You hired your people because they're good – you believed they were the right people for the job. What's more, they believed they were the right people for the job.

What happens when you're constantly looking over their shoulders, checking their work a hundred times? It signals that you don't really trust them to do the job. And displaying a lack of trust is toxic to a team spirit.

It also sends them the signal that you're going to do everything yourself. What's their motivation then to do their best effort if you're constantly tweaking and changing everything?

Instead of contributing to your success as the valuable assets you hired, they become like dead weight forcing more and more responsibility onto your plate. So what can you do?

How to Succeed Without Knowing It All

The simplest solution is to hire out the things that you need to know to an expert in that area.

But sometimes that's not always feasible. Sometimes you may not have the time or the resources to do that.

To get it done on your own, the key is to know what you need to know and where you can quickly get the information.

Focus on the big picture – Your three essential goals. You should have answered these three key questions already. If you haven't, I strongly recommend you go back and do them now. Nothing will get any easier unless you are clear on them.

First, you must understand what your business goals are. You also have to determine that the task you're about to undertake is in fact necessary. And whether you should really spend the time learning to do it. Let’s look at how to get it done as quickly as possible.

Start by defining exactly what you need to know to get something done. What are the steps that any task will require and what is the information that is critical to them?

Next, you need to know what resources you have at hand. Make a list of what's available.

Compile a list of research pages for the work you do. Build a library of reference material that you can access quickly and often. Assemble a rolodex of contacts of suppliers you deal with on a regular basis. Bookmark the websites that you frequent for particular information.

What you want to do is build a personal knowledge database. One that you can quickly access for the important information that you need. And not just of physical assets.

After that, check your circle of influence. Your human resources. If you need specific information on something, is there somebody in your network that you can tap for that information? (If you don't have a substantial network that you can rely on, you should be spending a lot less time learning and more time networking.)

What about your employees? Do they have special skills that you can leverage in certain areas? Are there partners who you can trust to do things?

Business level knowledge and strategies are “must-know” information. But when it comes to tactical aspects of their business the last thing the strategic entrepreneur should do is open a book. Remember this…

The answer can be found in a person long before it will be found in a box or a book 99 out of 100 times!

Finally, act with your goal in mind. Make sure as you're progressing, that you're only taking the actions absolutely necessary to achieve your goal. Keep reassessing the task. Is new information really necessary, or is it a potential distraction from meeting your goal?

When you start to divorce yourself from the need to know every detail about everything you need to do, you'll be shocked at how much more productive you will become. And how much faster you'll achieve all your business dream goals.

A Bonus Benefit: Learn Better by Learning as You Go

Once you come to understand that expertise in a particular field doesn't mean knowing every tiny facet of building and running your business, once you realize that expertise isn't something that has to take years to build, you'll be able to move forward much more quickly.

Being able to find the appropriate answers to accomplish your proper objectives, you'll act more decisively, with much more confidence. You'll undertake new challenges with an enthusiasm instead of trepidation. Plus your knowledge will grow as you go.

Did you realize that the majority of the population say they don't really understand something until they put it into practice? The fact that you're learning a lot as you go, means that information is that much more valuable to you. Its information gained in context and you'll never lose it.

Answer those three critical questions, compile the resources you need to answer your questions and keep them at hand and you're going to find yourself moving forward at lightning speed. Your path to success will be cleared of every speed bump. You'll take on projects with an enthusiasm like never before.

Appropriate Objectives Supportive / Destructive Behavior #3: Keep it Simple vs. Love of the Complex

American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg was famous for turning the simple into the mind numbingly complex. He invented hysterically complicated and absurd systems for doing the simplest tasks. Take, for example, the “self-operating napkin:”

“The “Self-Operating Napkin” is activated when the soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth; pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin.”

Thirteen steps to wipe your mouth. Pretty ridiculous, huh? Still, you'd be surprised how many entrepreneurs fall victim to a similar means of planning and execution. They think that by doing more, learning more, and being able to implement complex activities, they're actually moving toward success. They think that a successful business is a more intricate one.

Quite simply, more moving parts does not automatically make a business better. In fact, it often works in direct opposition to the top-level behavior in this category. It adds to the objectives you're trying to accomplish and often superfluous and irrelevant things to boot. Adding more and more complexity makes accomplishing your goals more challenging, more time-consuming, and more resource-draining.

Fed Ex vs. Jake's Pizza

Let me give you a quick example. Jake's Pizza is a great pizza place near where I live that delivers pizza. Fed Ex is a global package delivery service. You might not consider these two businesses in the same thought, but they are a perfect example of the point I'm trying to make. You see, at their core they're both in the business of delivering.

Fed Ex employs massive, intricate computer systems that schedule package handling and takeoffs and landings by their air fleet. They have trucks around the world with scheduled “to the minute” pickups and drop offs. It's an enormously complex system because it provides an enormously complex service.

Jake's, on the other hand, is a local business. To make their deliveries, all they need is a phone and a couple drivers who know where they're going.

How much sense would it make if Jake's tried to replicate the business complexity of Fed Ex at their local level? None. And even worse, what would it ultimately cost them? Can you see where I'm going?

Albert Einstein once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

The flip-side of that is advice that all entrepreneurs need to take to heart. Your business should be as complex as it needs to be – but no more. In fact, the simpler your strategies at the onset, the better. I'll explain why in just a minute.

The Magical Allure of the Complex

Have you ever been to a magic shop? Go in and the guy behind the counter will invariably show you a trick. It'll amaze you. Astound you! You absolutely have to know how it's done. So you buy it and drive home, all the while thinking how incredible the illusion is and how cool it'll be the next time you wow your friends.

But when you get home and pull out the instructions, you discover how simple the trick really is. Maybe you think to yourself, how in the world could this fool anybody? But it fooled you at the magic shop.

When we see an immensely profitable, well-run business we automatically think that it can only work that way because it's incredibly complex. Like the magic trick. (It doesn't have to be and like I said before early on it shouldn't.)

You see, complexity is all about tactics – the “how” to execute. And tactics must always be secondary to business theory and concepts. You must understand the “what” before the “how.” That relates directly back to the top-level behavior. The only way to know what the minimum number of objectives are for your business is if you have a clear understanding of the larger business landscape.

When you're considering a strategy to implement, the key is to start out as simple as possible. Ask yourself, what's the easiest, fastest, cheapest, simplest way to know whether a project is even worth pursuing in the first place.

When you try to over-complicate your business you're actually in danger costing yourself time, money, opportunity, frustration and more. Let me give you an example.

Several years ago, I released a product that we hadn't tested. The sales process we developed for it included different offers, an intricate upsell strategy and all kinds of other “complex” stuff. Problem was the product didn't sell.

That means all the time and money we spent putting that complex project together was wasted.

The key to success is speed. Complexity is the mortal enemy of speed. How much better off would we have been if we had done a simple screen capture video for the product and sent it to our list just to see how the idea would work? It's what we do now, every time.

The Dangers of Adding vs. Subtracting

When you fall in love with the complex yourself, you run the risk of spending more time learning than earning. Building knowledge instead of your business. Analyzing instead of taking action. It means more work; more hours spent strategizing and developing, and making less progress toward your goals. No matter how much efficiency you think it may add, no matter how much you may think it saves you, complexity always adds to your bottom line costs.

The more complex things are in your business, the more sluggish you are at getting things done. When you work on your own, you can get things relatively quickly. The bigger your organization, the more people you have to wait on. It's not necessarily bad, but it is reality.

In a report I wrote about project management I said that every time you say “yes” to a project, you are forced to say “later” to every project you have under way. That applies directly here. Every time you say “yes” to adding a layer of complexity to your business, you're forced to sacrifice speed.

And there's another threat to you. When you focus obsessively on creating a bigger and more complex system, you naturally shift your focus from your goals to the path to achieve them. You start focusing on the “How” instead of the “What.” It misdirects all your efforts and resources. Instead of working to achieve your goals, you become sidetracked and focus on working to build a system – often a system you aren't even sure works!

That undermines your business at every level. How can you possibly achieve a goal, when your efforts aren't directed toward it? When you're obsession becomes building a massive system instead of a massively profitable business?

And if you're lucky enough to get any traction and grow your business at all, the effects of this bad behavior will expand with you. You start misdirecting more and more resources.

Not only are your efforts misdirected, but now so are your employees. They become focused on growing a process instead of a business.

Think about it. If you're doing everything yourself, your only real cost is the opportunity to be more productive.

But as your business gets bigger, you have to hire people and resources to oversee these processes. The bottom line here is building a successful business is all about speed. Speed to create products, speed to get them to market, speed to get feedback and analyze results, and then – and only then – the speed to leverage what's working into a massive profit center.

Complexity kills speed.

It will slow your business at every level. It will blur your goals and burden you with tons of irrelevant work – inappropriate objectives.

Are You in Love With the Complex?

Diagnosing this behavior is simple. Ask yourself this?

“In an effort to make my business more productive, am I more likely to add more steps or options to it or am I more likely to strip something out of it?”

Most people will likely answer “add” to that question. For one simple reason. It's far easier to add than it is to take away.

Take a hard look at the actions you've taken in the past. Beyond first setting up, how big has your business grown, not in terms of revenue and customers, but in terms of tasks and workload?

If you're honest with yourself, you'll find your answer right there. A lot is riding on your honest evaluation.

The more complex a business, the more effort and time go into making sure it's running right. The more maintenance it requires, the more resources it demands.

It's counterintuitive, but many entrepreneurs fall under the illusion that the bigger, the more complex a business is, the more successful it is.

The reality is, the more complex anything is… the more complex it is. Period. More complex does not mean better. But what more complex does mean is more demanding. The more resources it will require to run efficiently and effectively. It obstructs you from any chance of ever behaving properly at the primary level. The idea is to simplify your business objectives. Not to create the “perfectly run business” by adding to them.

In a nutshell, complexity slows your progress, and progress is far more important than perfection.

How to Break that Dangerous Attraction?

Fixing the problem rolls right off the diagnosis. If you've found that you're more concerned to “build out” a project before it “rolls out,” it's time to start making changes right now.

Remember the second question successful entrepreneurs have to address? Here's a simple exercise to help you put it to use. Read the sentence below…

What is the absolute minimum necessary I need to achieve my goals?

Now, fill in the blank with whatever projects / goals you can think of that are pertinent to your business. Here are a couple suggestions to get you started:

  • marketing and acquisition
  • conversion and fulfillment
  • customer service and support
  • follow up
  • repeat business
  • referral business

Don't stop with just these. Fill in that blank with everything that applies to every part of your business.

Another question to ask yourself is “How can I offer my prospects a “duct taped” version first?” You don't want to roll out a slick polished project or product only to watch it fail. What can you “duct tape” together first? What's the minimum you can give to your prospects that will deliver your message and bring you solid quantifiable feedback?

One good way to do this is to use the “Service to Product” strategy. Initially offer your prospects a service rather than a product and record the events. This gives you a number of advantages.

First it's easier to implement, saving you tons of time. Second, it lets you build a better product by providing you feedback (from actual customers) about where your product may be weak. Once you get through with one or two service offerings, you can turn those services into products (webinars, CDs or video sets, transcribed as manuals, etc.) and not only will you know your product is working, because you've built it up around your market's feedback, but it's a great way to leverage that same value over and over.

There's really no magic pill for this. It's simply disassembling, analyzing and reassembling your systems with only the absolutely necessary components.

But if you'll commit to doing this, you'll see a vast improvement in the performance of your business no matter what level it's at. Simply because you'll retarget your focus on your main goals for your business.

If you're on your own, you'll be more productive and have more time to work in your business. If you're working with a team, you'll find they become more efficient and productive as well. Costs go down as you eliminate the unnecessary actions that you were previously supporting.

And most importantly, you won't risk upsetting that top-level domino.

A Quick Recap

That covers our first set of behaviors. Let's take a quick look back.

Top-Level Behavior: Setting Appropriate Objectives. Without appropriate objectives, you'll never find a clear path to your goals.

Then, contributing to your success at that level are three supportive behaviors that can turn destructive if you don't pay attention to them.

They included:

  • Indecision: The unwillingness to make a commitment that will move your business forward…
  • The Need to Know It All: Mastering the things in your business that you have no need to master…
  • Love of the Complex: Over-complicating the steps in your business that will slow you down and stall your growth…

Got it? OK, then let's move on to our next top-level behavior.

Top-Level Behavior #2: Focus and Attention

To accomplish your objectives, you have to focus. Plain and simple.

Specifically, you have to be able to focus on the things that are essential to your business versus what is not. That's what defines a “strategic entrepreneur.” The opportunity seeker is in a virtually constant state of unfocus. He's scouring the internet landscape trying to find out “what else can I do?” “Where is my next opportunity going to come from?”

The strategic entrepreneur, on the other hand, focuses on the essential. The question she asks herself is “what's the least I can do to make my vision of success a reality?” Big difference.

Both entrepreneurs and opportunity seekers are assaulted by opportunities and other distractions vying for their attention.

The difference between the two is that the strategic entrepreneur stays focused on their goals.

It's a difficult response to master. Our attention is controlled by our brains. And very often our brains are driven by the search for pleasurable stimuli. Inattention is nothing more than your brain controlling you.

Combine this natural physical reaction with the assault of non-stop information and offers that we're all exposed to nearly 24/7 and this condition has resulted in psychological circles called “Continuous Partial Attention.”

Continuous partial attention is a condition in which we’re motivated by a desire not to miss anything. Because of that we often attempt to engage in two or more activities that both demand cognition – attention and thought.

In a state of continuous partial attention, we can tend to feel more alive, connected, plugged in, and in the know. It causes us to constantly SCAN for opportunities in any given moment. Every opportunity brings the inevitable question, “What can I gain from this?” The only problem is it's fatal to any business you're trying to build.

Are you a scanner?

Take a second and think about the following questions:

  • Are you easily bored when you're not in front of your computer?
  • Do you find it difficult to focus on a single task for more than an hour?
  • Do you look for a “gadget” or some kind of technology solution for every purpose you can think of?
  • Can you sit and read a book or a long magazine article without feeling the need to reach for the TV remote?
  • Do you run out of patience with long, in-depth, nuanced discussions of certain topics? - Do you only frequent places like bookstores and coffee shops that offer Wi-Fi so you can stay connected?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you might be vulnerable to threats to your attention and focus.

Maintaining (or losing) focus is largely a physical and environmental phenomenon.

Like I told you before, our brains tend to look for pleasurable stimulation. And in the world today it's easy to get caught in a pendulum of swinging between the two extremes of over- and under-stimulation.

When our brains become over stimulated we start looking for more and more things to occupy ourselves with. When they get under-stimulated (bored) we start to look for things to re¬stimulate ourselves.

We're all vulnerable to it and it's something you must guard against (hitting one extreme or another and allowing simulative distractions to creep in.)

Distractions make you busy - not productive. They make you feel good for a while – like you're accomplishing things by the truckload. The reality is they sap your energy and your concentration. It should be the goal of every strategic entrepreneur to be able to master their focus instead of being a slave to distraction. Only by doing that will you be able to achieve all your business goals in the fastest time possible. The key is to find and maintain a balance between the two extremes that will let you keep your focus razor sharp on the necessary objectives you need to accomplish for your success.

Losing Focus Will Destroy Any Business

What will a lack of focus do to you and your business?

At the most basic business level, losing focus means you simply don't get things you need to get done in the timely manner that you should. You end up spending long hours working (or at least thinking you're working) when in reality you're really accomplishing nothing.

I call that “Fake Work.”

Focus is at the heart of your ability to develop a sound strategy. Put another way, you don't have a strategy until you determine what you're NOT going to focus on. What prospects you're not going to go after, what products you're not going to offer…

When you stay focused, it allows you to create leverage within your business. And leverage leads to scalability – and a “hands off” profitable business.

On the other hand, losing focus spreads your efforts thin, which invariably leads to poorer quality work on your part. The more you're distracted, the more you're likely to cut corners to get things done. You're starting something new every day and often times rushing to implement it, if you even get that far. That makes for bad quality.

It leads to procrastination and delays. When your attention is distracted too much, you begin to miss deadlines because you're not following through and getting things done (Remember that next domino?) You spend too much time juggling activities of little importance to your ultimate success. And this creates its own problems.

It negatively impacts your ability to get customers, and once have them; it diminishes your ability to keep them.

Your results measurements will suffer too. Jumping from one activity to the next doesn't allow for meaningful results to be established. You get too much “noise” in your data. It becomes harder and harder to tell what's working and what isn't. This reduces you to the business-killer of guessing instead of knowing. This behavior puts you on a hamster wheel you can't get off of until your business is dead and buried.

And if all that weren't enough, the constant barrage of information and skipping from project to project leads to burnout. You can only maintain your focus for so long before you need a break to let your mind rest. Piling too many distractions on your plate causes a lot of entrepreneurs to look for ways to keep their focus high when it starts to wane – coffee, energy drinks and the like.

But those only provide a temporary boost. The effects wear off quickly and you're in worse shape than when you started.

And the bigger your business grows, the more important focus becomes. Because at higher levels you have so many more things to focus on.

Also, because this is a top-level behavior, focus has to be maintained throughout your whole company. One of the easiest ways to torpedo team focus is to be unfocused yourself.

To waffle on your objectives and goals and steps necessary to carry out. To flip-flop on your team with new unexpected strategies and plans. Following your lead, this fuzzy, unfocused behavior will quickly spread like a cancer throughout the rest of your team.

It dilutes your leadership ability. People will only follow you if you appear to be going somewhere. Constant changes in course that occur as a result of distracted attention diminish others' confidence in you and your ability to lead your company where it's supposed to be going.

Problems become more difficult to solve and mistakes more difficult to rectify. When you're not focused on one appropriate objective project and something goes wrong, it becomes much more difficult to uncover and resolve the source of the problem.

Can you see how bad behaviors grow with and spread through an organization as it grows? Important, major projects get sidetracked in favor of the “strategy du jour.” Customer satisfaction begins to suffer. You ultimately start to lose control of your business and the direction you set out in.

And the big result of all of this? Let yourself lose focus and there's little chance of meaningful follow through on any of your projects. Failure at the focus level and the next domino collapses.

Warning: You're Getting Less Focused Every Day

Since the earliest evolution of media technology – I'm talking about radio, television, the movies and even the phone – people's brains have been changing. It isn't the technology that has been so important as the amount of content that it delivers. The content that vies for our attention.

As these channels evolved early on, people became drawn to the music on the radio, the pictures on the television, the voice over the phone. All at the expense of focusing on something else. The technology itself eventually became invisible. But the impact on your attention was clear. And today it's the internet chipping away at your capacity to concentrate even further – whether you realize it or not.

Today computer technology has evolved to shorten your attention span even more. Once upon a time, you used to read books to get information. Today a 5,000 word magazine article is simply too much information. Blogs became a prominent source of information. The most popular blogs ranged from 500 to 700 words. That eventually turned into micro-blogs – tweets. Only 140 characters. The web keeps slamming more and more in front of you. And the more you try to consume the less fully you get the picture of anything.

Then there were the interruptions it brought: AOL's famous “you've got mail” announcement would pop up at will, to take us away from whatever it was we were focused on. Today every application has some sort of alert you can set to notify you of an update. You might think its keeping you informed, but it's just another way to interrupt yourself.

Hyperlinks within articles propel us to more and more media to distract us like Alice's bottle tagged “drink me,” these links all tempt us with the unspoken message “click me.”

More distractions.

Science fiction writer and blogging pioneer Cory Doctrow writes that whenever we turn on our computers we are plugging ourselves into an “ecosystem of interruption technologies.”

I couldn't have written it better. Whether you like it or not you're becoming less focused, because it's what the world now demands of you.

Reclaim Your Focus and Get Back on Track

How much time do you think you waste by letting your focus be distracted? When a new email pops into your inbox or a new tweet comes up on your Twitter account. One small distraction can take on a life of its own and derail you on your path faster than anything.

But if you could banish those distractions from your thoughts and attention while you're working on any project, how much better would your business be? How much more could you accomplish? How much more certain of your goals and decisions would you be if you were able to give every one of them your full, undivided attention?

I'm willing to bet a lot. Virtually every one of the thousands of entrepreneurs I've worked with in my career have all agreed. Once they were able to re-master control of their attention and focus, things started happening in their businesses as if by magic.

They got a new level of clarity about their goals and objectives. They accomplished more, faster. And with seemingly less effort. Instead of being tired and worn out at the end of a long day, they were actually energized and ready for more.

The benefits of controlling your focus are obvious. The “how” to take back control when it starts to wander isn't. I want to share with you a few techniques that I've had my clients use to great success for maintaining your focus.

Doing Nothing to Get Your Focus Back

What can you do when you sense you're losing focus? When you're becoming bored or over stimulated and start looking for the next “challenge” to stimulate your brain? Here are some exercises that help you reclaim and maintain your focus through all types of distractions.

  • Do nothing: I'm serious. As an entrepreneur, you've always got a lot on your mind. How often do you simply disengage and let your mind wander? Simply shut off the to-do list in your head? Giving your mind free-rein for a short break is a great way to recharge. It allows your brain to sort and file information, and it's a great way to come up with new solutions to the things you're working on. In our enthusiasm to be productive, we forget to give our mind/body moments to be “receptive.” Being open to daydreaming, open to letting our minds wander does just that.
  • Try Meditating: I do it every morning for ten minutes. It's simple to do. Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Lie on the floor or sit up straight in a comfortable position. Relax your body (especially your shoulders if you're sitting up,) close your eyes, clear your mind and breath slowly and deeply in and out through your nose. Focus your mind on your breathing only. Feel the air flowing through your nose as it fills and empties from your lungs.

If your mind starts to wander, just bring it back and don't worry. Go back to focusing on your breathing. It may take some getting used to at first. But once you do, as little as ten minutes of meditation can wipe out all the noise in your brain.

  • Try “Four Corner Breathing”: This will help calm you down especially when you're in a state of over-stimulation. Hold up this report in front of you. Look at the first corner and inhale for four seconds. Then look to the next corner and hold your breath for four seconds. Move your eyes to the third corner and exhale for four seconds. And finally move your eyes to the last corner and say to yourself “relax, relax, smile” (and do it!) Regaining control of your breathing is one of the oldest and most reliable ways to calm yourself when you're too fired up.
  • Take a power break: We all have optimal durations when we can focus on a task at hand. Past that point, we tend to get too involved and unconsciously move from a relaxed to a more tense state. At this point it can be a good idea to get up and take a power break that's 10 minutes or less.

Frame your power break by making a commitment to yourself about something you will do and set a time for you to be back to work. (No longer than 10 minutes.) Take yourself out of your task so you can recharge. Do a breathing exercise, turn your attention to something interesting, and let your mind wander. Then when your time is up, go back to doing what you promised yourself you'd do. This allows your mind to break out of the pattern that it's in and keeps you brain from taking over and searching for more stimulation.

  • Keep the important stuff on top: When you do take a break or get interrupted, be sure to keep the project right in front of you. Forty percent of the time, when workers wander off or become distracted, they don't go back to the task they were working on before the interruption. Keeping your project in front of you will keep you focused on what it is you're working on.
  • Get away from your computer: I do a lot of my writing with a pen and a legal pad. I'm serious. I know the further I can place myself from the distractions of technology the better. It's the same for the majority of entrepreneurs out there. Not only will you get more done, you'll see a change in the quality of what you're working on.
  • Call a buddy to battle frustration: Often a task can drag on and start to take its toll in terms of frustration. You want to scrap the project and move to something else. If you find this happening, take a moment and reclaim the work you're doing as your own. Then call a friend, colleague or even an employee in to talk over the project. You'll find the fresh input re-stimulates you to get back to work. You may even find you finish the project while you're talking.
  • Work with a timer: A physical timer. Head to the store and get yourself a five dollar digital timer. When you sit down to do some work, set the timer for a reasonable amount of time (start small – maybe 30 minutes at the beginning) and then tell yourself that you're going to focus on nothing but the task at hand while that timer is running. When time's up, you can take a short break. Having a goal, a set amount of time on which to work on something, will help you keep your focus.
  • Set a perimeter: Enduring interruption after interruption is a sure way to get you over stimulated and off track. Create an interruption-free zone for yourself for a specific time during the day. I go work at the beach first thing in the morning. But if you don't have an option like that, simply turn off your phone, screen your calls, put a do not disturb sign on your door, close your browser. Go somewhere in the office where you can't be disturbed. You'll find it's much easier to maintain your focus and get more done.
  • Vary your setting: Do your work where you'll have to stay focused on it. Often times I'll start my day working at the beach and when I become a little distracted, I'll get up and go to the cigar bar or maybe Starbucks. I've worked in my back yard, in my library at home. I've even gone and locked myself in my car to shut out distractions so that I can focus on the project I'm working on.
  • Write down and review your commitments: We assume we'll remember all the plans and goals we make. The problem is we don't. The simple act of writing your commitments down and re-reading them daily assures us we will keep our priorities at the forefront in our minds.

Mastering this behavior is about regaining control. Control over your business. Control over the objectives you're trying to accomplish. Control over your life and your success. When you can master your attention and shut out all the distractions that threaten to derail you, you virtually assure that you will accomplish the essential, key items you need for your success.

==Focus and Attention Supportive / Destructive Behavior #1: Starting With “No” vs. Saying “Yes” to Too Many Opportunities==

Opportunity is the root of success. Let's face it, it's the whole reason we went into business in the first place.

The opportunity to be in your “sweet spot” and create solutions for starving markets, to grow, to profit, to free up our lives, to do the things that we want to do, to live life on your terms, instead of at a boss' behest.

One of the great truths we assume about business is the more successful you become; the more opportunity comes your way. The more people want to be associated with you. More offers, more deals, more money making opportunities will be sent in your direction rapid fire.

But it's not always the best thing for your business. And saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way is a dangerous thing. Let me explain what I mean.

Why You Should Be Wary of Opportunities

It runs against entrepreneurs' nature to ignore the door when opportunity knocks. You never know what it might be on the other side or when it might come knocking again. So it's a just bit in our natures to be a little opportunistic at heart.

The problem is, we always look at the big winning outcome, but rarely do we consider the costs. Buying the occasional lotto ticket is fine, but when it comes to your business, taking a gamble on an opportunity is a whole different story.

An opportunity is “a chance to do something” and taking chances is not the behavior of a strategic entrepreneur. It's the behavior of an “opportunity seeker.”

  1. Uncover incredible new opportunity – Roll dice.
  2. Make big score.
  3. Repeat.

Most strategic entrepreneurs understand this kind of behavior is counterproductive to their goals. But that doesn't make it any easier to turn down what can appear to be a great opportunity. The temptation can be overwhelming. And downright dangerous.

Why?

Because the people who will generally come to you with an opportunity, are opportunity seekers themselves. They're looking for their next big score. Their goals simply don't align with yours as a strategic entrepreneur.

Now, imagine your business where every opportunity you carefully selected was a guaranteed winner. A business where you aren't harassed by opportunity seekers, but instead pursued and strategically partnered with the best and the brightest entrepreneurs, the most effective marketers who offer the most value to your customers. Imagine if you could pick and choose the ripest fruit off the tree. Capitalize on the what will give you the best returns and set you on your way to unlimited growth.

In this section, I want to show you the horrendous effects of what saying yes to too many opportunities can do to you, your business and your potential for success at every level of business.

And I'm going to show you how you can turn the tables on that behavior, learning to identify and say “no” to the wrong opportunities, while jumping on the best most profitable that come your way.

The opportunities that will help you boost your bottom line while working less. Opportunities that will allow you to focus more on your main mission, thrill and wow your customers, achieve your loftiest goals and become a true founder.

Taking Dead Aim at Your Focus and Attention

Like the shiny object syndrome (I'll tell you about in a minute,) saying yes to nearly every opportunity that find its way to you, whether it's from someone at a seminar or an email in your inbox, takes direct aim at your ability to focus.

As strategic entrepreneurs, it's imperative that we maintain our focus on the goals that we set and the fewest objectives that will get us there. On the visions we create for ourselves and our businesses.

Grabbing at every opportunity that comes along detracts from your attention, limits your focus and effectively makes you an opportunity seeker.

Are You Saying Yes to the Wrong Opportunities?

Now, maybe you've set up partnership after partnership that hasn't paid off and you're wondering why. Or maybe you're finding all the wrong opportunities are coming your way – high risk opportunities that offer you little in the way of return on your investment.

Have you been burned by an opportunity you thought was a sure thing?

Do you feel compelled to jump on every opportunity that comes along because it may be “the big one” (or you worry you may not get another one anytime soon?)

Or even worse, are you chasing opportunities? Does every email offer for the next big thing in your inbox make you stop and think “what if?” All these are the signs that you're damaging your business by accepting the wrong opportunities. And it doesn't get any easier. If you have trouble resisting the opportunities that hit your inbox when you're starting up, what will you do when you achieve a measure of success and the phone starts ringing off the hook?

Cut This Behavior Off Before It Cuts Off Your Path to Success

This behavior is critical to address early in your business career. At the very time when you're most vulnerable to this behavior. Let me explain.

Typically, opportunity doesn't knock too frequently when you're just starting out. When no one knows you. While you're still establishing your presence in your niche or market. Maybe you don't have a huge customer base and that makes you look like a big risk to potential partners.

At this point, it seems almost counterintuitive to turn down an opportunity. After all, you might not get another one for a while.

But the truth is this is exactly the time you want to be most discriminating. This is the time when you want to focus the most on your vision and your goals. A time when saying yes to a wrong opportunity can hurt you the worst. (I'll tell you about more this in just a second.) It's also good practice.

Think about it. As your business does grow, and you become more successful, more and more opportunity seekers will start to knock. You'll have more and more choices to sort through. And you'll have more resources to devote to them.

If you can't grasp which are the right opportunities and which are the wrong ones when you only have one or two to choose from, how will you do it when you have dozens of opportunity seekers banging on your door? And what happens when you say yes to too many of them then?

Think “Tradeoff” NOT “Payoff”

Saying yes to opportunity is tempting.

Most entrepreneurs think they represent a chance to grow their business, to make more money, to connect with and help more people, to expand your reach and stake your presence in bigger more profitable markets.

That's simply not always true. Let me tell you something you won't hear from anyone else.

Every opportunity - every single one, including winning the lotto – has an associated cost. That's its tradeoff. And assessing the tradeoff is even more important than calculating the potential rewards of the opportunity. What's the tradeoff? The things you can't do as a result of pursuing an opportunity. The tradeoff is the reality of focusing solely (or even delegating a portion of your focus) on the payoff.

Too often, entrepreneurs become too focused on the potential of an opportunity, about the profit potential, the growth potential. So much so that they neglect other areas of their business. I did it myself when I first got started online. That was why I spent so much time pulling all-nighters trying to get things done. I was only focused on the payoff – not the tradeoff.

I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record on this topic, but it's that important. Understanding the concept of tradeoff vs. payoff was an “ah-ha” moment in my career, and it will be for you too if you grasp it fully.

It's simple reality. When you focus on one thing, you can't focus on another. Do not kid yourself. You have to judge the merits of every opportunity based on what it will pay you for your efforts, versus what it will cost you both financially and in terms of opportunities to get other things done.

That means saying yes to every opportunity that comes along will ultimately have the exact opposite effect you hope for when you undertake them. Early in your business career, it will drain critical resources - including your financial, emotional and physical capital. It can create mountains of work for little return – while you watch other areas of your business you've worked hard to build slowly backslide.

It can sabotage your growth by spreading your efforts across too many potentially unrelated niches. Especially dangerous at a time when you should be trying to establish your core concept within your market.

Since you're the only one at the wheel, it will force you to work longer and harder for less and less return on your capital investment. It will create miserable working conditions for you saddling you with potentially endless responsibilities.

As if your business grows, it gets progressively worse. It can create toxic business relationships where they should be beneficial. It makes your efforts to build a loyal client base enormously difficult. Engaging in too many opportunity un-defines the key question of “who you're for.”

The bigger your business becomes, the greater threat this faulty behavior poses.

It diminishes your ability to lead your team. As the leader in your business, it's critical that you LEAD. That you chart a course and stay on it. Employees will respect that. They'll follow you in to battle and go the extra mile to see that you succeed.

But show up every Monday with a new plan for the big score, and you're not leading anymore. And the respect and dedication your team has for you They'll lose respect for you.

Plus, it places unfair demands on your team. They have a fair expectation of their role within the organization. Shifting responsibilities and dumping more work on them to accommodate the latest opportunity creates unsustainable working conditions.

Your financial risks increase as you try to implement more and more opportunities. In addition to the opportunity cost, implementing new agendas always has a financial component as well. There are always dollar costs involved and the more you undertake, the more those costs mount as well.

As far as your customers go, it will destroy the client bonds you've built. Start pitching too many or the wrong offers to them, they'll come to view you as a salesman or a huckster instead of an advocate for them. They'll start looking for the solutions you promised to provide them elsewhere. It's like a free pass for your competitors.

Getting dissatisfied customers back on board is long and painful task.

And possibly worst of all, it will dilute your brand and the USP you've worked so hard to build. It will ultimately accelerate your business' demise.

As you grow, more and more opportunities simply mean more and more risk of stepping on landmines that will blow your business to bits.

Being an entrepreneur isn't about being your own boss…It’s about being able to make the decisions that are best for you. It's about having the freedom to map out and follow your own course in business and in life. To take control and live your life the way you want to.

The only way to do this is by being able to make sound decisions about the opportunities that present themselves to you. As your business grows, so will your ability to handle these opportunities daily.

Selectively Choosing the Right Opportunities

When you're able to say “no” to the wrong opportunities and “yes” to the right ones, you instantly boost your chances for success. You automatically minimize many of the risks that you face as an entrepreneur and you give yourself the absolute biggest edge for achieving your dreams. Instead, by picking and choosing your opportunities wisely, by saying NO to the wrong opportunities, you'll accelerate your growth by leveraging the most profitable and valuable partnerships.

When you become selective in your choice of opportunities, you can start immediately multiplying your profitability. And that brings other benefits as well. You'll raise your profile in the market by becoming an exclusive property, someone who only works with the best. Your reputation and prestige will soar and spread like wildfire on its own.

Selecting Opportunities In Line With Your Goals

An important mindset for the successful no matter what stage of business they're in is a summed up in a simple word – “No.” No matter how good an opportunity looks on the surface, no matter how desperately you think you want to take advantage of it, you should address every opportunity that comes your way by initially saying “no.”

One of the worst mistakes entrepreneurs make is convincing themselves that an opportunity will good for them.

Instead of that, assume it's a losing deal. Assume it will cost you valuable time and money. Assume it could potentially put you out of business. And then make it prove to you that it can be beneficial.

Remember, an opportunity is only good if it fits with your appropriate goals. With the objectives you have set for your business. Anything else will dramatically add to your work load and decrease your effectiveness at running your business.

Any opportunity that takes you off the path to your stated business goals, no matter how attractive the opportunity appears, is bad for business.

It may sound a little egotistical, but when you are confronted by an opportunity, your decision has to be all about you. And why not? You're the one who put your livelihood on the line everyday in your business. It's your capital that's at risk. Your reputation that could be damaged.

Remember this: The tradeoff of any opportunity has to have a definitive bias in favor of your business.

It doesn't mean it has to pay you more than anyone else involved. You don't have to be a winner to the detriment of anyone else. A good business opportunity will have multiple winners associated with it. What it has to do is fit in with your vision of your business.

Ask yourself these questions when an opportunity presents itself.

Am I clear on the “tradeoff?” Do I completely understand what I will have to give up doing now in order to implement this new opportunity – regardless of the payoff? Will this opportunity leverage what I'm already doing?

Is it scalable? Or at the very least sustainable and not just a one-shot deal?

Will it get me to my goals faster by satisfying the objectives I already have in place? Not your ultimate goal, but the individual objectives that will get you to it.

How much more work or how many more steps will it add to what I'm doing now?

Will it simplify any processes that I am employing right now?

What's will the bottom line financial cost of this particular opportunity be? What other efforts might I have to sacrifice to implement this opportunity?

Do I have enough time to take a new project on without significantly taking away from my current workload?

Does it create any redundancies in my business? Is it just a replication of something I'm already doing right now?

Will implementing it send an inconsistent message to my employees?

When you take a moment to answer these questions, you will substantially increase your ability to sort the beneficial opportunities from the destructive ones.

You'll start reaping more rewards. You'll become more successful and even better, be perceived as such. That will make you and “exclusive property” in your business space. One that more and more entrepreneurs will want to do business with. You'll get more and better opportunities. See your results soar. And reach your goals faster than you ever thought possible.

Focus and Attention Supportive / Destructive Behavior #2: Sequential Tasking vs. Multitasking

Multitasking is one of the great misconceptions in business today.

It landed in our lexicon with the modern computer era to describe the process of a computer running multiple programs at once.

It eventually evolved its way into our day-to-day language to describe our personal behavior as doing multiple things at the same time. Now that we're surrounded by all kinds of technology, accelerating things to breakneck speed, it's something we think we can do too.

Write a paper, check e-mail, check the markets, answer a phone call, get dinner ready. The truth is we can't. The concept of doing multiple tasks at the same time is a myth.

Computers can't really do it. At its core level, a computer's processor can only execute one instruction at a time. It just does it so fast it appears to be doing multiple things at once.

Even if it's a “multi-core” processor – every core can still only process one instruction at a time. And that's where the comparison ends. Because we only have one “core” – one brain.

Focus management is directed by a section of your brain called your prefrontal lobe. It's the “CPU” of your brain and it works nearly the same way. It rapidly switches your attention and thoughts between the tasks you have open at any one time.

But there's an important difference. The activity in your prefrontal lobe is fueled by a hormone called dopamine – a brain chemical in the adrenaline family – and it tends to give us that buzz of feeling razor sharp. I'll tell you a little more about that in a second.

What's important to understand is this kind of behavior isn't sustainable. Just like a CPU will crash when programs try to deliver too many instructions at once, our brains will eventually become over stimulated and we get less and less productive.

Multitasking is one of the sub behaviors that most directly impacts our focus and attention. I'll explain all of its effects in just a minute.

The “Multitasking Hormone”

Do you find yourself with multiple projects and tasks open on your desk at any given time? Do you check your Blackberry while dealing with your employees? Do you answer emails while you’re on the phone with a customer or a vendor? These are all classic examples of things we do when we multitask.

In this section, I want to show you how to master your focus, by briefly explaining the physical causes that make multitasking attractive. And then explain how you can retrain your brain by strategically multitasking to place your focus where you need it.

O.K., I know you've heard this all before. About the evils, and productivity-draining effects of multitasking. “Yeah, yeah… I know it's not good, but I don't do it that often… I know I should stop but it doesn't really hurt my business…”

BULL! Multitasking is like an addiction and for reasons I'm going to show you in just a second, you're probably still doing it. And you'll continue to do it until you take conscious, proactive steps to stop it. Think of this as my own little intervention with you, to get you clean of multitasking.

In truth, multitasking is like a drug for our brains. When you multitask, the activities you switch between are controlled by a section of your brain called the prefrontal lobe. It directs your attention between one activity and another.

This action is fueled by a hormone called dopamine which is associated with the pleasure system in the brain. When your neurons are being fed by a rise in dopamine, you get the sensation of being razor sharp and alive. Who doesn't like that? So, often when we're working on more than one project we get that “Superman” feeling. It's a good feeling, but a bad idea.

Remember, your brain isn't actually doing two or more things at once but shifting between the activities. It's stretching your attention. That becomes unsustainable. The more you stretch your attention the less attention and focus you have to give the really important objectives you want to accomplish. The key things you need to get done.

When you jump from task to task you're actually creating pathways in your brain that adapt to that behavior. You actually lessen your ability to focus. The slight feel-good buzz you get from multitasking actually diminishes your ability to focus and get the important things that you need to done.

And this behavior, habituated, will destroy any business.

Don't Let Your Business Be Ruled By Your Hormones

Multitasking leads to a condition called “Inattention Blindness.” It's what happens when we have to spread our attention across multiple projects at the same time. It means missing important details when our attention is not completely focused on the things we need to focus on.

By now you certainly must understand how distracting your focus decreases your meaningful productivity. You busy yourself with dozens of tasks all day long and end up thinking you've gotten a lot accomplished. But when you look back at the end of the day, you've really gotten nothing done.

A series of studies done by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and the University of Michigan proved it. Looking at a series of problems ranging in levels of difficulty and familiarity, the results showed that in every case, attempting multiple tasks simultaneously took more time to complete than doing all the problems separately.

Multitasking is a major way of over stimulating your brain. (One of the main causes of losing your focus I just covered in the last section.) Where “inattention blindness” becomes particularly dangerous, is when you ARE trying to work on essential objectives. Switching your attention between two or more important tasks at any one time – instead of focusing on each one like you should – increases the potential for you to miss out on critical details of a project.

You run the risk of missing key steps in your process. Of doing critical tasks in a haphazard way. And completing a task improperly will ensure failure just as certainly as not completing it at all. Haphazard efforts lead to haphazard results.

Your tendency to multitask will affect your business at the team level as well. It feeds on itself at a larger level. The bigger your organization, the more critical details within your organization may require your consideration. Trying to handle them all at once will lead to even further stretching of your attention. Ultimately you burnout faster.

Your multitasking tendencies will affect your employees as well. And in very unexpected ways. It can strain your relationships with your employees. Your employees are entitled to as much of your undivided attention when you deal with them as any major project you may work on. For example, multitasking when you deal with an employee on a personal level - “keep talking while I read my blackberry” - can be can be very off-putting and lead to resentment on their part.

It can lead you to have unreasonable expectations of your employees. You may actually start expecting them to exhibit this inappropriate behavior – multitasking – just like you.

You become a poor leader, when your attention is divided you can easily confuse instructions and goals.

Overstimulation of your brain can actually lead to paralysis – to a point where your brain finally says “enough” and tries to sort things out.

And the bigger your team, the bigger and more looming this threat becomes.

By default, the added demands on your attention multitasking creates, lessens your responsiveness to employee and customer needs.

Develop Your “Mental Muscle”

What you want to be able to do is control your attention and focus.

If you let your brain control you, by unconsciously reacting, jumping from one task to another, you become a slave to your own focus center of your brain. What you want to do is master it instead of being mastered by it.

The human brain is a powerful organ. It's actually more like a muscle than an organ. It's incredibly adaptable. The more you use it in the correct ways, the more you establish neural patterns in it that make correct behaviors easier. It's just like working out at the gym.

Do that, and when you sit down to take on a project, you can be confident that you'll be mentally prepared to get the job done. That you'll be laser focused on the task at hand and not distracted by less meaningful tasks that are begging for attention they don't deserve. You'll be more productive. You'll be more confident. You'll never worry about meeting a deadline again. You'll be able to dive into almost any project and give it your undivided attention.

Mindful Multitasking

Multitasking is a stimulative act. When you multitask, whether you're talking on the phone while making dinner or flipping between making notes on a conference call and updating your calendar at work, your brain is secreting dopamine which heightens your feeling of accomplishing things. Multitasking with familiar tasks can be an effective way to stimulate yourself out of a state of boredom, but it's not a way to get things important things done.

Michael Masterson once wrote something interesting about multitasking. He said, “Anything you can do while multitasking, you probably shouldn't be doing in the first place.”

In other words, any “important” task that requires less than your full attention isn't really that important.

Here's a way to keep your multitasking in check. It's a technique called “mindful multitasking.”

Mindful multitasking means that you consciously check in with yourself and determine the focus level you need for each specific situation. For instance, 75 percent of people surveyed say they talk on their cell phones while driving. We like to drive and talk. Yet data show that people talking on their phones while driving, are much more likely to be in an accident.

So the specific act of driving your car requires much more of your attention than say, chatting on the phone while you're having lunch at your desk. Consciously note every situation where you're tempted to start focusing on multiple things at once and determine how much of your full attention it will require.

If you do it right, mindful multitasking can be one of your greatest assets, making you more productive than you've ever been before. Letting you accomplish more, grow your business faster, earn more, and ultimately have more freedom and control over your life.

Let me show you an effective way to put this to use.

Remember, retraining your brain is just like working out. If you go to the health club and stand around talking, you'll never see any meaningful results. You have to focus on your workout for your muscles to get the biggest benefit. Same thing with your brain. It requires an initial conscious effort on your part to focus on a single task in order to establish the correct neural patterns in your brain.

But also like working out, the more you do an activity, the more the muscle that is your brain adapts to it and the easier it becomes.

Your Multitasking Workout

Studies have proven that dealing with important tasks one at a time is actually more efficient and faster than juggling multiple projects at once. For that reason, you should only work on one project at a time.

Planning as always is key. Break down your project into the (fewest) necessary steps you'll need to get it done properly.

When you start in, just like at the gym, you need a baseline measurement to start from. How many pull-ups can you do on day one? For this, I recommend using your timer. (You can get a software timer almost anywhere, or if you prefer you can pick one up at the local store for just a few bucks.)

Start slow. Overreaching for too big a goal too quickly will lead to failure and frustration. So don't be afraid to be modest at the start. Set your timer for 20 or 30 minutes. Then eliminate the distractions. Close the email client, turn your phone on silent and let anyone go to voice mail.

Start the timer and focus on your project in front of you. As you get better at maintaining your focus, increase the time. Try to get up to 90 minutes at a clip. Research has suggested that is an optimal limit for focusing intensely on a given task before you begin to get tired. It's called your “ultradian rhythm” and it governs your energy levels. i

When your timer goes off, take a short break. Then…

Multitask Within A Project Instead of Outside It

When you're ready to get back to work, dive back in, but on another aspect of the same project. This will give your prefrontal lobe the stimulation it needs and keep you from burning out on a single point of focus.

You'll give your brain the jolt it needs to give you that multitasking “buzz.” You'll feel fresher while you're working on your projects. You'll accomplish things faster, and you'll train your focus to zero in on a single task at a time.

If you're having trouble finding time during the day, get up an hour earlier and get some focus work done then. Those of you who know me know that I'm usually up writing by 5 a.m. It's some of the most productive time I spend during the day.

When you learn to master your focus, your abilities become virtually unlimited. You are more focused, more consistent, a better leader and all around more productive.

Focus on a single task at a time and you will see your productivity soar and your path to success clear.

What is the shiny object?

It's the behavior that lies at the heart of being an opportunity seeker.

It's the latest opportunity, the newest fad, the most popular bandwagon you think you can hop on that will give you that big burst of success. The quick fix that will take your business to the next level. The “insider secret” that will vault you ahead of the competition.

Now, I'm not going to bash new ideas, techniques and strategies overall. They can be good and useful tools. It's just that every new idea and opportunity that comes out can't become the central focus of your attention. Hopping from one shiny object to the next won't advance your business, it will kill it.

The key is that they have to complement and enhance your present business structure. If they don't fit into your business as you have created it, if they don't fit in seamlessly with the key appropriate objectives you have set for yourself, they become a ticking time bomb of faulty behavior.

There's a reason we're tempted by these shiny objects. Because they're easy. But don't be fooled.

Remember, there are no magic pills for success and you must not confuse the fastest path to your goals with a detour disguised as a shortcut. When you start buying into every shiny object that shows itself to you, that behavior becomes addictive. It starts expanding until you end up looking, not for solutions, but rather for opportunities. The more reliant you become on the latest and greatest thing out there, the more you get pulled away from your vision of the goals you set. You end up flipping from opportunity to opportunity. You regress from strategic entrepreneur back into an opportunity seeker.

The constant flipping from one shiny object to the next will blur the clearly defined goals you've worked so hard to set up. It's like laying land mines on your own path to success.

Control the Shiny Objects,Don't Let Them Control You

You need to be in control of your shiny object tendencies. I'm not trying to tell you that you have to shut them out completely. That would be foolish. As a strategic entrepreneur, you have to be on the lookout for new and better ideas and opportunities to achieve your goals. You're always assessing the potential of new techniques and strategies to help refine your objectives of reaching your goal with the fewest number of accomplishments necessary.

But you can't do that when you jump at every opportunity. Falling victim to this behavior will ultimately have the exact opposite effect that you hope for. Instead of simplifying your life and your business, it will complicate it more than you know. It will add work to your plate until you become overwhelmed. It will slow your progress and eventually smother you completely.

But if you are in control of the shiny objects that come your way, instead of letting them control you, you instantly become more discriminating. You become a better judge of all things as they affect your business. You'll be able to further refine your goals into precise targets with clear steps to reach them, instead of blurring your entire focus.

You will achieve the accomplishments you set for yourself faster than ever before. You'll see your bottom line soar while your business actually becomes easier to manage. These are the things that every strategic entrepreneur should be after. Controlling the shiny objects in your life will help you get there.

Letting shiny objects control you will ruin you.

The Dire Effects of Shiny Objects on You and Your Business

Shiny objects are like a drug. And if you're not careful, you can become addicted. You go from being a strategic entrepreneur to an opportunity junkie, looking for your next score. You start to kid yourself thinking you're still an entrepreneur, just like an addict says “I can quit any time I want.” But the reality is you're hooked.

And that addiction is disastrous on a personal and business level. I promise it does more damage to your ability to function than you probably realize.

On a personal, it puts you in the habit of constantly searching for external means to success. It's the quest for the magic pill. Getting stuck in this trap lessens your ability to think for yourself. To plan out appropriate goals and execute what is important for you.

It's like trying to “buy success in a box.” It creates unreasonable expectations within you. Every next opportunity is going to be the big one. When the effects of one opportunity don’t feed the need you're after or begins to fade, you immediately start looking for the next. The addiction deepens.

It's like a “mind virus.” It's the desire to become successful with no effort on your part. And the more you feed it, the worse it becomes. You have to come to grips with the reality that there is no $39 solution that will bring you all the customers you want. That will make you rich and 50 pounds lighter in the meantime. The sooner you understand and accept that, the easier it will be to deal with the shiny objects that come your way.

Where your small business is concerned, it breeds inconsistency in your work and your business. Instead of focusing on the important objectives of your business, you become scattered.

It ultimately obscures your goals, blurs your focus, and derails any potential growth. But what you may not expect is the effect this can have of a growing business.

It strips away the potential impact your team brings to the table. Your ability to actually leverage the skills of those you've placed around you. You don't just hire people to just do a job. You create a team to make a difference in your business. Your team is often one of the greatest sources of creativity and productivity you can have.

Constantly implementing the next shiny object will suck that right out of any organization.

Think back to your “working days.” Did you ever have a boss who changed directions at the drop of a hat? Who'd call a meeting every week to explain a new strategy the company was going to implement? Who displayed an inconsistency in their leadership to the point where you didn't know what the mission of your job was? It happens a lot and I can't think of anything more frustrating for an employee. When you start to implement new strategies willy-nilly, you take away their ability to get focused on their tasks. You limit their creative potential. They don't know if what they're working on today will be the same course you're heading on tomorrow.

They stop making meaningful contributions and simply start “pushing buttons.”

It also creates a culture of confusion. Constantly bringing new strategies, tactics and opportunities to your team to implement diminishes your vision as a company. One of the key tenets of being a founder is having everyone associated with your organization on the same path. When you indulge shiny objects, your business goes from a clearly defined path to being lost in the desert.

At that point, solutions actually become more difficult to implement. The more you start piling on, the more resources are demanded are going to be demanded.

It becomes a situation of “More work – Less focus.” And that gets you nowhere. Can you think of a bigger recipe for disaster than that?

Believe it or not, the bigger your business when you engage in this, the faster it will deteriorate.

It becomes more difficult to implement new strategies across a bigger organization. You have too many moving parts to work with effectively. Added and constantly changing employee responsibility diminishes quality of your core product even further, (that is, if you still even have one at this point)

It diminishes everyone's trust in your judgment. Not just your employees but your customers as well. And from there it's just a matter of time before you run the risk of destroying the perception of your reputation as an entrepreneur in the market as well.

The shiny object syndrome is like rot at the center of a tree – the vision that supports your entire business and team. When that crumbles, there's nothing – and I mean nothing – that can support or sustain your business.

Stop your Shiny Object Tendencies

In the bigger scheme of things, battling the Shiny Object syndrome is really nothing more than managing your attention and focus. For the most part, they are nothing more than distractions to your attention.

When you start to get caught up in the idea of a new strategy that will propel your business to the next level – Stop!

Take a minute to do some of the exercises I showed you in the focus section. Regain your perspective and refocus on the essential vision of your business.

You have to assess every shiny object in its proper perspective. Like a tool that may or may not help you. Like I mentioned before, not every shiny object is necessarily bad by itself. New ideas and techniques can be quite beneficial to your business. But ask yourself these questions first, before you jump at any new shiny object:

Most important to know is, is it a proven shiny object? I'm not talking about the testimonials that come with the pitch. Has it worked for others with similar business goals? Do you know anyone personally who has used it with success? Have any of the big players in your market implemented and used it successfully? You have to say “yes” to this question before you answer any of the others.

Does it make sense within the construct of my current business vision – with what I hope to achieve for myself and my customers?

What are the associated tradeoffs? What are the costs I will incur relative to the payoff I can expect?

Will it enhance my present process of achieving my goals? Or will it unnecessarily complicate things?

Will it actually simplify my work toward my goals, or does it simply add to my workload? Will it require any arbitrary change in direction from my appropriate objectives? Will it demand excessive resources to implement?

How much time will it take away from my current processes? How much time might it save?

Can I easily implement it across my entire organization? Or will it take excessive time and effort?

Will it send a confusing message to my team and or my customers?

Can I explain all of what it will do for me within the framework of my current vision on the back of a cocktail napkin? (If its benefits are not clear and in focus, forget it.)

These questions will help you understand if the next shiny object is even worth your attention.

Controlling your attraction to shiny objects is essential to your success. Distraction by these opportunities will not only blur the path to your goals, but will ultimately hasten your downfall. While mastering shiny object opportunities will keep you on track and moving forward. Working less and earning more. The exact goals of a strategic entrepreneur.

Time For A Review

That takes care of our second set of behaviors. Let's see what we covered: Top-Level Behavior: Focus and Attention. You have to be able to focus and The behaviors that will either help or thwart your efforts?

  • Saying “Yes” to Too Many Opportunities: You have to be able to discern which opportunities will benefit your business and which will simply take you away from the important things unnecessarily.
  • Multitasking: Two simple truths: 1) No one can truly multitask and 2) as my friend Michael Masterson wrote “Anything you can do while multitasking, you probably shouldn't be doing in the first place.” Enough said.
  • Shiny Objects: Chasing after “shiny objects” – external solutions to the important objectives in your business – will distract you from the strategic vision you need to have.

OK. We're making some progress. Now let's move to the next top-level behavior.

Top-Level Behavior #3: Following Through

Pick up a business building book on any bookshelf and I'll guarantee you it tells you somewhere that the most important thing you need to do is take action. To get started.

Not true. Getting finished is.

I see it all the time. The entrepreneurial landscape is littered with projects that were started but never finished for one reason or another. That's due to another remarkably common, yet extremely dangerous, faulty behavior.

You see, it's not getting started that generates success. It's finishing.

Follow through is essential on your part as a leader in your business and on the part of every member of your team. That's why it's a key top-level behavior. One thing I want you to notice here is that I haven't listed any supportive behaviors under this top-level one. There's a reason for that. There are simply too many to list. Failure at this top-level can be blocked by any number of other behaviors; a lack of commitment, procrastination, not enough time, boredom, unclear plans, the list goes on and on…

But two causes I want you to notice specifically that will block you from successfully following through – a lack of focus and attention and setting appropriate objectives.

The two preceding top-level behaviors: setting inappropriate objectives and a lack of focus.

When you lack focus, your attention is diminished. You no longer have the necessary drive to concentrate on the proper efforts to complete anything. Setting inappropriate objectives diminishes your potential to follow through by putting too many obstacles on your plate.

Can you see how these primary level behaviors daisy chain with each other? Failure in one automatically makes the next one down the row impossible to achieve. You always have to be conscious of how you respond - how you behave - in any given situation.

Not Following Through Becomes a Cultural Phenomenon

It's imperative you address this faulty behavior early on. The sooner the better. All the reasons for that will become apparent in just a minute. But the biggest reason for addressing it early on is that is the easiest time to do it. When you only have yourself you have to correct. Once you allow a “culture” of not following through to become entrenched within your business, it's an enormous struggle to change it and a major barrier to any success.

Often companies have to “clean house” and start from scratch. But that's only the start of the trouble. It gets worse.

You also have to reestablish trust within your market. Between you and your customers and everyone else you come into contact with. Re-establishing those bonds after you've lost someone's trust is nearly impossible. It kills your present business and makes gaining future business that much harder.

Amazing Changes Come When You Follow Through

But, if you address it early, and get into the habit of finishing what you start – following through, you'll start to see amazing changes in your business.

When you follow through, things start getting done on their own. Habituate this behavior and it will hardly even seem like you're doing the work at all.

And as your business starts to grow… you guessed it, this attitude will take hold and spread too. It will spark more initiative by your employees. Things will start getting done - and getting done right – seemingly on their own.

Remember the goal of a strategic entrepreneur is to build a business that works for them, not one that they have to slave over ten, twelve, or more hours a day.

The objective is for you to minimize the demands on your time, while maximizing the results you achieve. To get the results you dream about with the absolute minimum amount of effort you have to exert. Running a business any other way simply makes no sense.

Think about your last job. What was it that put you off? The long hours? The unreasonable demands that were placed on you? Being under-compensated for your dedication and efforts? That's why you became an entrepreneur. To change all that.

The Toxic Dangers of Not Following Through

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this section, virtually every business building resource out there is going to stress “get started.” No one talks about finishing. About the inherent and toxic dangers of not following through. The insight I'm about to give you here, you won't get anywhere else.

Let me ask you this, When you commit to doing something, is it a done deal? By that I mean, do you have 110% confidence that it will be done on time, as promised? No slip-ups, no “unavoidable” delays, no excuses? If not, that's a problem. A very serious problem both in your business and in your personal life.

Not following through creates a host of consequences – some obvious, some hidden – that will undermine every good intention you have and every effort you make.

Obviously, if you don't follow through you don't get anything done. Anyone can tell you that. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Not following through on a personal level has much deeper implications.

Engage in this faulty behavior enough and it will damage your perception of yourself – your self image. You begin to see yourself as someone

who can't get things done. It undermines your self-confidence.

It also leads to intense frustration and aggravation which will shows up in your motivation to even get things started. You already “know” your penchant for not following through, why start. It creates an avoidance complex that further leads to procrastination.

At the team level the effects of not following through are even more severe. You can't get an accurate measurement of results at the business level. Without all the components of your plan in place - without having followed through on everything you have to - you can't measure results. You're never sure of how you're really doing.

Maybe you think you're doing “good enough.” But the big winners know exactly how they're doing. Exactly the return they're getting on their risk investment. Remember, being an entrepreneur carries inherent risks. You're willing to take on those risks, but not for nothing. There has to be a payoff. Why would you settle for realizing less that the absolute maximum you deserve?

Failure to follow through on every important aspect and detail of any project you're working on will automatically diminish the quality and value of that product or service you're offering. You cut corners. The products and services you offer reflect that and there's no way to hide it.

Delivering substandard results will diminish the loyalty of your present customers and make it harder to grow your herd. You end up losing sales, revenue, and opportunity so there's a cost in absolute dollars as well.

But it also does immense damage to the relationships within your team.

The morale of your team as well will start to deteriorate. Your employees will see you as an “all talk and no action.” That takes its toll in terms of respect. There are very few employees who would think about taking a responsible leadership role when the head of the company can't follow though.

It will give the entire company an unspoken blessing to not follow through either.

Remember, being a leader is about “do as I do - not as I say.” When they see your lax attitude, they'll start to adopt one as well. Because as far as they're concerned, you simply don't care.

That attitude will eventually spread through every segment of your company like wildfire. At every level, from your marketing team, to your tech team, to your customer service team you'll have people who aren't following through to achieve your goals.

That, in turn, puts more pressure back on you to check things and make sure they get done? Can you see the self-reinforcing loop of self-destruction that's beginning to emerge?

Where Else Have You Ever Got a Warning Like This?

It's a pretty scary picture. But I'm obligated to tell you about it – for your own good.

If you get in the habit of not following through, you're shooting yourself squarely in the foot. You'll be considered a “flake,” a waste of time by all the successful people around you. You'll be perceived as unreliable, a bad risk. People won't want to work with you much less for you.

It's like stranding yourself all alone on your own deserted island. You'll be all by yourself. I've seen this behavior time and again in my years of coaching business owners. And the ones who haven't changed and mastered this behavior have all met similar ends. None of them has gone on to achieve any great success.

I can't do it for you. All I can do is alert you to the business-killing dangers that are inherent in this faulty behavior. You have to identify the aspects of it that are within yourself, and work to make the changes.

Benefits Galore When You Do Follow Through

Frankly, that's not how it should be. By simply monitoring and maintaining this one simple but thoroughly critical behavior you can change that inevitable destiny to a much more favorable one.

Learn to follow through and you'll have the self-confidence and determination to take on any project and all the steps that are necessary to fulfill your objectives. You'll be able to handle any challenges that arise with confidence and certainty you can get them done.

You'll know you have a dedicated team behind you who's more than willing to pick up whatever slack is necessary to achieve success for the team. Every product and service you offer will be top quality because no details have been left unattended to.

Your customers will become more loyal, certain that you are there for them.

Do not underestimate the value of a happy, satisfied customer. They'll mention you to friends and the referrals will generate more business for you without you having to do anything. How would you like that? Business that comes knocking at your door! What could be better than that?

Make Following Through Second Nature

Like I said, there are hundreds of reasons why people don't follow through. Literally.

One of the most common I've seen in my personal experience, however, is poor planning.

When you don't have a clear, well defined plan to achieve your goal, it makes a job harder at every level. Remember the second rule of the strategic entrepreneur; you must specifically define the minimum objectives necessary to achieve the success you want.

If you don't, any task, however big or small can seem a daunting. Beyond that, once you get started, the task can seem overwhelming – almost endless. Especially if you have ignored the third rule of all strategic entrepreneurs: carefully establishing the shortest path necessary to complete the project So simply by answering those two questions for any task, you will automatically make things easier. Increasing your ability to naturally follow through without even thinking about it. Break your project down to its simplest individual tasks is only part of the answer. Here's an important detail.

We tend to not follow through when we get bored. There are two main causes of boredom: 1) Spending too much time on any given project and 2) not seeing clear progress you are making.

While breaking your projects down into small, easily manageable chunks is the first step, most entrepreneurs overlook the second. Making sure each task will show you some level of measurable level of progress. So that at the end of each task, you can actually see what you have accomplished.

Seeing accomplishment on your part has a reinforcing effect. The more you see yourself accomplishing with a significant results, the more you'll be able to do. So here are a few things you can do to help you stay motivated to follow though and execute:

Review all your commitments: I know I've said this before, but there are really few better ways of keeping yourself on track than by writing down the commitments you make and then reviewing them on a daily basis. Sometimes, not following through is simply a result of forgetting. In the busy day to day life you live, things can fall through the cracks. But the result is the same as if you didn't follow through on purpose. Write 'em and review 'em and that will keep you focused on getting things done on time and as promised.

Start early: I don't mean early in the morning (although if you do your best work then, go ahead.) I'm talking about getting started on the job as soon as you can. When you delay a project for any reason, it's really easy for other things to get in your way. Suddenly those things start to take precedence and again, you're not following through. If a task is a priority, treat it like one and get on it as soon as you can.

Commit a minimum amount of time daily: Don't assume you'll work on a project every day. Like I mentioned before, entrepreneurs are all very busy people. Lot's going on. It's easy to become distracted and let things slip or eat into the time you had budgeted for the project you need to do. Instead set a minimum time – two hours or whatever – and the time of the day you plan to do it. Treat it like you would a meeting with an important prospect. If you have 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm scheduled for working on your new product, when one o'clock rolls around, stop what you're doing and get on it.

Commit to deadlines: One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to set a hard deadline and remind yourself of it. Knowing that a project is due on a specific date creates an urgency in you that will help drive you to get things finished. Often you'll find that the closer the deadline gets, the more focused and determined to follow through you get as well.

Use a buddy: I mentioned this before as well, but it's equally important here too. I do this all the time. Whenever I find myself slowing down on a project for whatever reason, I'll call a friend, a fellow marketer, sometimes even a team member just to kick some ideas around about the project. Doing that will re-energize you, give you a fresh perspective and get you back on track with what you're doing.

Believe me, when you learn to master this behavior, you'll begin to start seeing things get done as if on their own. I'm serious. You won't have to think about making sure projects are getting done.

And what’s more, they'll be getting done at the highest level of quality possible. Churning out top notch services virtually without having to think about it. Who wouldn't want that going for them in their business?

Just to Review

This third behavior is a single.

Top-Level Behavior: Following Through: Failing at this behavior will destroy everyone's perception of and confidence in you. Don't follow through on a regular basis and this behavior will spread like wildfire through your entire company.

There are simply too many potential supportive/destructive behaviors to include here, so I'm going to leave it at that. OK. One more set of behaviors to go.

Top-Level Behavior #4: Accountability

If there's one area that stands apart from the others, its accountability.

Accountability is very simply being responsible for the things you need to do in your business - whether they're stated or not. It comes with your being a leader, a Founder. It is inextricably tied to your responsibility in that role.

When you're a business owner, you're not only the accountable for what you need to do in your business, but you'll be held accountable for everything the business needs to do as well.

Ultimately, you're accountable for everything. Let's say, for example, if my assistant Janine promises to get back to one of my customers on some issue and doesn't, it reflects badly on her, but ultimately reflects badly on me too. Your level of accountability affects your employees too. If you're not accountable to your employees, they may still be accountable to you because you're the boss, but they may well engage in unaccountable behaviors with your customers and each other. And again, that comes back to you.

When anyone else in your business acts unaccountably, you'll ultimately be on the hook – your name's on the business.

Once it's on your plate you own it.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot avoid it.

Let me rephrase that. Try to avoid behaving accountably and you'll never be able to avoid the consequences. The only thing that can ensue is disaster.

You can engage in every other behavior properly – set appropriate objectives, train your attention and focus, follow through at every step – but if you do not accept the responsibility of accountability, there is no way you will ever achieve your goals.

But more than that, this behavior also has to be exhibited by your employees. They have to be held accountable in everything they do as well. It's a business wide behavior that must be properly practiced at all levels. That's why it's a critical top-level behavior.

If it's not, the risks to your business are enormous.

The Silent Business Killer

The problem with a lack of accountability is that its consequences often begin to develop silently, like a cancer. Like an inconspicuous lump or spot you ignore for too long that turns into a life-threatening disease.

Disregard accountability at your own peril. You may think that you're getting away with something or pretend you're acting correctly when in reality you're only allowing a business disease to spread, that will eat away at the very core of everything you've worked to build.

By the time you start to actually begin to see the effects of a lack of accountability, especially in a business that's grown to any level of success, it's usually too late. The damage has been done and drastic, often painful steps have to be taken to save your business. If it can be saved at all.

You see, accountability is an obvious behavior, with very “un-obvious” consequences.

They're not simple cause and effect relationships. But rather they're insidious, impacting your business beneath the surface. In this next section, I want to show you some of the unknown effects of this faulty behavior. Frightening results that can cause far more damage than you think.

For a business to operate optimally, and achieve its ultimate goals there has to be congruency between the goals you set for your business and the actions you take to achieve them. – That is accountability.

Read that statement once more.

Accountability is about ensuring that the things that have to be done to reach your business goals, get done. It all starts with you.

But, if your business has grown to any extent, the actions of every person on the team must be equally congruent. Everyone in the organization has to do the right things to work toward the common goal. Everyone has to be equally accountable.

Understanding that, it becomes crystal clear why it is absolutely critical for you as the leader of the business to behave in an accountable manner.

It All Starts With Your Personal Accountability

Your goal in your business should be to surround yourself with people who, when given a task or project, you can be certain will get it done correctly. And if something does come up, you'll know they'll be in touch with you sooner rather than later to apprise you of the situation. No last minute surprises. Bottom line is you should be able to forget about it completely to focus on things you have to do.

But the only way to establish that kind of accountability is, first and foremost, by holding yourself to a high standard of accountability. If you don't, you will never - let me repeat that, NEVER - be able to hold anyone else accountable either. It's impossible.

Say you have a project review meeting scheduled with an employee next Monday. Your employee shows up, but you don't. You send them an email saying “sorry about missing the meeting, can we do it Wednesday?” Wednesday comes and once again, your employee is there, but you're distracted by some other matters. This time you reschedule for Friday. Now you show up, but your employee is detained by some emergency. Do you think you can hold that employee accountable saying “Listen, I can't have you skipping out on meetings with me like that?” Not a chance.

Accountability is an inviolate moral business standard. It has far reaching consequences throughout your team and your business. Because accountability is a major source of trust.

And damage to that source of trust will significantly impact your business, even at the earliest levels.

Behaving unaccountably, you miss project deadlines which can cost you critical revenue in the early stages of your business. It can damage budding business relationships which will impair your ability to build your business. Projects get delayed.

You find yourself asking “why,” despite your best planning and all your efforts, you're not reaching your goals. Why your business is sliding backward instead of growing. Move your business just one small step up the ladder and this behavior will create even more problems.

Like I mentioned before, if you're not doing this right yourself, you can never hold any employee accountable. That can create a dangerous environment throughout your entire business.

Your employees will sense your lack of accountability and assume that same standard for themselves. And once again, you simply won't be able to hold them responsible. If your employees don't achieve the goals that have been set for them, what can you do? Sure, you can fire them. But your new hires will quickly adapt to that same standard and end up in the same boat. Why? Because they all take their cues from you.

Another Area of Accountability You Rarely Hear About

And here's another area of accountability you won't see anyone else tell you about. But it's one that can significantly damage your business. You can't hold your customers accountable. That's right, your customers.

There's just as much of a responsibility in a business transaction on their part as yours. I can come out and lay the most beautiful sod around your entire house, but unless you go out and water it, it won't be beautiful for long.

Often customers will look to project their failures onto someone or something else. Typically it's the entrepreneur who sold them the solution in question. “His system's no good – it didn't work for me.”

Comments and user reviews like that go a long way in damaging your reputation in the market. Unless you yourself are accountable, the blame will always come back to you.

Defending Against the Disease of a Lack of Accountability

Let me ask you a quick question. How would you feel if you had to prove everything you said before anyone would believe you? If no one would take you at your word? If all your knowledge, hard work, expertise was constantly under fire of suspicion?

It'd be a pretty miserable life wouldn't it?

Well those are the exact effects you end up facing when you behave in an unaccountable manner. Your motives, your knowledge, your expertise, your leadership skills all become suspect simply because actions speak louder than words.

But, if you behave in an accountable manner, your reward will be equally as great. You'll see your business become a highly tuned, well functioning, extremely loyal organization. You'll get the admiration of a highly respected business leader. You'll see greater measurable successes. You'll have greater clarity about what needs to be done and how to do it. And you'll be sure it all gets done.

There will be greater trust and cooperation throughout your entire organization. Things will get done on time, even ahead of schedule. Your customers will be happier and you'll have achieved the strategic success you're after.

So much hinges on accountability – intangible effects with very tangible results. That's why you must pay attention to the way you behave in this respect.

How to Hold Yourself and Everyone Else Accountable

Here are some key points to focus on where accountability in your business is concerned.

  • Excuses vs. Results: In your business and your life, you're either producing one or the other. Which are you doing? It's hard to hold yourself to a consistent results-based behavior, and you may have a perfectly valid excuse for not getting something done, but the fact of the matter is, whatever you're working on still isn't getting done. And the impact of it not is going to be felt just the same as if you made up the excuse yourself.
  • Eliminate excuses from your life: Take that last point one step further and try to eliminate excuses from every aspect of your life. Make a list of all the excuses you can think of you've given people in the past. Which are the excuses you give most frequently. Those are the costliest words in your vocabulary. Note them and make a promise never to use them again.
  • Become more discriminating in your commitments: When you eliminate the excuses from your life, you'll start to see a change in the way you work. You'll discover you automatically become more discriminating about what you'll spend your time on. You'll find you start committing to a lot less. There's nothing wrong with that.
  • Make sure every commitment is recorded: Written down in front of you. Don't trust yourself to remember. Put it in black and white.
  • Then review your open commitments every day: And not only that, determine where you are in their progress. You have to keep track of progress to make sure you're getting things done. If you don't, you'll never know when you're getting better.
  • Make a game out of it: You've seen the giant red “thermometers” they put up at fund raising drives – that keep getting higher as they approach their goals. Do the same thing. Draw a little scoreboard or thermometer in your journal next to every project you have and start coloring in as you get more and more done. The visual representation of you getting closer to your goal will keep you motivated and accountable. See how quickly you can get things done.

It's not always easy, but it's something you have to do. Holding yourself accountable is something that must be done for the sake of your business. Hold yourself accountable and without fail, you'll reap the highest rewards of success that you can imagine.

When you hold yourself accountable, it's easy to hold others accountable as well. Although you may not have to. Accountability is “self-sustaining” behavior. One that spreads throughout your business, among both your employees as well as your customers, on its own.

It's a behavior that breeds respect. It builds a strong business environment. It creates a rock solid loyalty on the part of your customers. In short, it breeds business success.

Accountability Supportive / Destructive Behavior #1: Keeping Your Word vs. Breaking Your Word

“Keeping your word” is a close supportive behavior of accountability. Some people might not even differentiate between the two. But there is a difference. An important one. What is it?

Keeping your word is far more personal.

Keeping your word quite simply means doing the things you say. (Accountability, by contrast, is doing the things that are necessary whether you articulate them or not.) Keeping your word, while it has a huge impact your team and your business, has a much greater impact and even more far reaching effects on you.

Let me ask you something.

Do you ever lie awake in bed at night with doubts about decisions you make swirling around in your head? Do you spend excessive time going over and over plans to make certain all the details are just right? Have you ever obsessed that your employees aren't up to the tasks that you hired them for?

Believe it or not, all these symptoms have the same underlying cause – not keeping your word. I'll explain why in just minute.

This is a behavior you really must not take lightly. It not only impacts your business but can impact you dramatically in your personal life as well.

In fact, of all the behaviors we've covered in this report, this may be the most potentially damaging to you personally. It can make your life at home more strained; it can create an environment of distrust throughout your business. Among your employees as well as your customers. It will cause all your relationships, personal and business to suffer dramatically as well.

Keeping Your Word to Others and Yourself

Imagine your life with less stress both at home and at work. Where people are more likely to agree with you rather than resist your ideas. How much easier, how much more pleasant would it be?

Think about it. Because that is exactly what comes from the ability to keep your word.

The payoff of keeping your word is remarkable. But the consequences can be truly horrendous.

You see, keeping your word is a major source of trust. In fact, it may be the biggest source of trust between people anywhere in the world. But it's more than that.

Break your word to someone else, and you're likely to lose that person's trust. That's bad enough. But break your word to yourself, and you'll get the same response from your own subconscious. A lack of self-trust. And that carries deeper and more far reaching consequences. A lack of self-trust will literally spill over onto everything around you including your business. Trying to operate a business with a damaged sense of self-trust is an exercise in futility.

That's why it's absolutely critical to keep your word.

I have to be a little bit blunt with you here. Keeping your word, from a personal as well as a business standpoint may be the most important thing you can do. There is simply no room for fudging here. Let me ask you…

When you say you're going to do something, your word has to be your bond. Is yours?

When you give your word to an employee or client about delivering something on a specific schedule, you have to be 110% certain it's going to get done. Are you?

When you commit your time to a project or an event, you better be ready to make the time to honor that commitment. Do you?

If you even answered “maybe not” to any of those, then you must resolve today, right now, to make keeping your word your highest priority. If you don't, or if you put it off for another day, you run the risk of sabotaging not only your business, but your personal relationships and the lives of those around you as well.

Every decision you make, every project you plan, every goal you set, will lead to massive self-doubt from lack of trust. You start to procrastinate and avoid taking action. You become paralyzed. Your performance suffers as you hesitate at every little action that must be taken for fear that you won't get it done.

You constantly feel under undue pressure about every little thing going on in your business. From the minor self-generated pressures in a solo shop to the multiplied pressures of running a team. Your life becomes an emotional roller coaster.

A lack of self-trust will also be projected onto others like your employees, partners and even your family and friends. You'll have trouble trusting anyone - whether they're deserving of you distrust or not. You'll project your own lack of self-trust like a floodlight on a dark night.

On the business side, your employees will sense that lack of trust. It's a bad environment to cultivate. It can lead to resentment and distrust of you within their ranks. Or they may start having doubts about themselves. In either case, they no longer get the job you hired them to do, done. They'll never take any kind of initiative.

Failing to keep your word creates a regressive effect that causes your company to go tumbling backward instead of forward.

How to Consistently Keep Your Word

But there is good news.

If you've had difficulty keeping your word in the past, there are small changes you can make to change that.

Changes that will elevate you in the eyes of everyone around you. From your spouse to your children to your employees to the guys on your bowling team.

It makes you more reliable. People will believe in you without asking for so much as a hint of proof. Your word becomes as good as gold. That's an envious situation to be in. It makes everything you do easier, you meet with less resistance.

If you find that you have trouble keeping your word, you have to take immediate steps to correct it. Before its effects start to surface. I don't believe anyone reading this report would intentionally make a promise they didn't intend to keep. The problem is, it's often much easier to promise than to perform. And good intentions are not absolution for failure to do so.

More often than not, this is the precise reason for your failure to keep your word.

So if you're in the habit of doing this, how can you change? How can you stop the self-damaging, business crushing effects of breaking your word?

There are no specific exercises for keeping your word. However, you can change elements of your behavior that will help you become more consistent in keeping your word. Here are a few guidelines that dove-tail with the business principles I've been discussing in this report.

Guidelines which, if you follow them, will make your word as good as gold.

  • Assess your weak points: Do you have trouble being on time for meetings or appointments? What about returning calls or emails? Do you have trouble prioritizing the really essential tasks? There are more but these are examples of areas you can assess and work on quite easily.
  • Proper Planning: Remember, the key to almost all success for the strategic entrepreneur is having set appropriate objectives. That entails good planning. It also creates a positive environment for helping to keep your word. Remember, when you set appropriate objectives, you are mapping out only the essential accomplishments you must achieve for success. You only have to do the minimum to advance your business to your stated goals. Following along to a logical conclusion, that kind of planning will help you keep your promises in check. How?
  • Only Promise What is Essential: When you only have the accomplishments that are absolutely necessary on your agenda, you tend to only make promises within those lines. That means you'll be less likely to over-promise anything.
  • Start Small: If you do find yourself making promises outside of what's essential to your business, start out small. Let's say for example that one of your favorite charities comes to you looking for you to volunteer your time for some worthy fundraising. Go ahead and commit. Just don't over-commit. Don't offer to take the reins of the entire event unless you are fully prepared to follow through. Instead, offer to donate an hour or two. Small steps lead to great gains.
  • Think it through: This small act will help you stay out of the danger of breaking your word in the first place. Before you make a commitment, give it a couple seconds of serious thought. How important is your involvement in it? If you commit to it, how much will it cost you in terms of your other commitments? You'll find that if you take on only what's truly necessary, what really requires your attention and presence; you'll have a lot less trouble keeping your word on many things.

When you set up and keep small, but important promises, you reverse the effects of not keeping your word in your subconscious. It only takes a little to get the process started.

When you start keeping even the smallest promises, your self-image begins to improve almost immediately. You start to see yourself as a “doer.” Your confidence grows as does your ability to take on and conquer bigger and bigger projects.

And at each level, don't forget to reward yourself when you keep your word. Your confidence will grow, your performance as a business leader will soar, and your word will be as good as gold.

Time For a Section Review

That's makes our fourth and final set of behaviors. Let's take a quick look back at them:

Top-Level Behavior: Being Accountable: Accountability means holding yourself responsible for not only the things you must do, but also for all the things your business must do. That's critical to remember.

And the key supportive / destructive behavior underlying it…

Breaking Your Word: When you break your word, you damage your reputation and destroy your self-confidence as well as the confidence of others in you.

That brings us to the endof this article, but your work is just beginning.

You've just learned about eleven of the most dangerous business behaviors that will destroy your business. Eleven behaviors whose effects you were, in all likelihood unaware of, or at least may have trivialized before opening this report.

Let's take a quick look at them one more time.

Top-Level Behavior #1 – Appropriate Objectives: You must be able to determine your appropriate objectives, that is the fewest necessary, essential objectives you must have to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Failing here adds to your workload, costs you more time and crushes your productivity. But when you are able do this; you'll focus your company like a laser toward spectacular growth and profits by mapping out the fastest path to your dreams.

Appropriate Objectives Supportive / Destructive Behavior #1: Being Decisive vs. Indecision – Decision making is about making commitments – and about being able to minimize the risks of any decision. If you don't do this properly you'll paralyze your business and waste precious resources and manpower. But when you conquer this behavior everything changes. You'll operate from a much clearer picture about the things you need to accomplish. You'll act to achieve them with more determination. You'll face any issue that comes up, planned or not, with the confidence of a Founder.

Appropriate Objectives Supportive / Destructive Behavior #2: Knowing Enough vs. Needing to Know it All – The is the need to master skills you don't need to master, is like chaining an anchor to your business. It's a paralyzing need. One that will make every objective more difficult and time consuming. It will blur your vision of what you should be working on. Overcome this behavior obstacle and you'll be able to get all the information you need at a moment's notice. You'll be able to implement and get feedback faster – build better and more profitable products. In short, you'll launch your business to remarkable success.

Appropriate Objectives Supportive / Destructive Behavior #3: Keeping it Simple vs. Love of the Complex – Love of the complex is the mortal enemy of speed. And speed is the key to business success. When you unnecessarily complicate things, you build your own roadblocks to your success. You waste MASSIVE amounts of time. But when you let go of this need, you'll immediately see all your results improve. And you'll see them improve at record speed. Top-Level Behavior #2 – Focus and Attention: Lack of focus leads to “fake work” and is one of the surest ways to spread yourself too thin. It's a trap for getting involved in the things that don't matter to your business success. It drives you to the irrelevant instead of the things that will build leverage and scalability in your business. Fix this behavior and banish distractions and you'll reclaim control of both your business and your life. Master your attention and your business will seem to grow as if by itself.

Focus and Attention Supportive / Destructive Behavior #1: Starting with “No” vs. Saying “Yes” to Too Many Opportunities – Being drawn to too many opportunities creates havoc in your business. It will pull your focus from the important things you need to do and create more work that doesn't take you in the direction you want to go. It will dilute your USP and kill your leadership capabilities. But if you control this urge, all the opportunities you select will seem like winner because you'll only take on quality opportunities with people who will work as hard as they can to ensure your success.

Focus and Attention Supportive / Destructive Behavior #2: Sequential Tasking vs. Multitasking – Human beings are physically incapable of multitasking. When you try to, all you do is stretch your focus and end up taking longer to accomplish the things you need to. Multitasking is like a drug for your brain and the more you do it, the less you're actually able to focus. Learning to “multitask” correctly, however, will let you accomplish more things faster, it will boost your confidence, you'll never worry about missing a deadline again and you'll be fresher and more energetic.

Focus and Attention Supportive / Destructive Behavior #3: Strategic Vision vs. Shiny Objects – Preoccupation with “Shiny Objects” is the path of the opportunity seeker. Someone constantly looking for an external solution to their problems. They have an addictive nature and become what I call a “mind virus.” They spark unreasonable expectations. They destroy your creativity and the creativity of your team. Controlling this behavior will keep you focused on your key goals. And when you do find a shiny object that fits with them, you'll recognize it and leverage it to its fullest potential.

Top-Level Behavior #3 – Following Through: Not following through will damage your reputation but even worse than that, it will destroy your self-confidence. It will paralyze you in your ability to run your business creating an avoidance complex within you. And this behavior will spread like wildfire through your entire organization. Engaging in this behavior properly, however, will have remarkable results. You'll boost your self-confidence. When you make a commitment, you'll know it's a done deal. You'll have a dedicated team behind you and things will start getting done on their own. Everything you produce will be the best it can be.

Top-Level Behavior #4 – Accountability: As a Founder, you're not only accountable for the things you do within your business; you're also accountable for everything your business does. It also must be held throughout your entire business. Don't hold yourself accountable and you'll never be able to hold anyone around you accountable either. But when accountability spreads through your business, it becomes a well-tuned, smooth-functioning, high-profitable machine. You, personally, will get greater clarity on the things you need to do, and you'll be certain they'll always get done.

Accountability Supportive / Destructive Behavior #1: Keeping Your Word vs. Breaking Your Word – Keeping your word impacts everything from your business to your personal life. Failure in this behavior will not only destroy others' perceptions of you, it will destroy your perception of yourself. It breeds a lack of self-trust. Taking a few small steps to be certain you keep your word, will do wonders in your business. Your establish strong bonds of trust between your employees and everyone you come into contact with. Your word will be your bond and people will be lining up to see you achieve your goals. Plus you'll be working with a renewed sense of self-trust. One that will let you achieve your goals in the shortest time possible.

This is work you must undertake immediately. You have to start monitoring and assessing these critical behaviors. Both in yourself and your team where the top-level behaviors concerned. And in yourself as far as the supportive behaviors go. Remember, failure to behave properly at any level of any one of these behaviors, will cause you to fail at all the others.

And failure at any one will have fatal effects on your business. There is simply no getting around it.

They will stunt your business growth in the early stages. And their effects multiply – as to the costs they'll exact from you – as your business grows. Inappropriate actions in any of these eleven behaviors will hurt you financially. Worse it will do irreparable harm to your reputation – especially dangerous in an age where trust is at a premium. They will create an environment of tension and mistrust among employees within your business. They will cause their performance to suffer in any number of ways.

There is simply too much at risk for you to delay taking action on the information in this article.

A Plan for Fixing Your Behaviors

Around 1730, Ben Franklin set out on a path of self-improvement. He established for himself a list of thirteen virtues he felt were important guides for living. He laid out a great plan for implementing them into his life.

He created a grid in his journal labeling each column with the days of the week. In each row he listed each of his thirteen virtues. He would monitor all of his virtues every day, “leaving them to their ordinary chance” as he put it, and if he failed at any one of them, he'd make a mark in appropriate row and column of his grid. But – and this is important – he would only proactively focus on bettering one virtue per week. He'd track them all every day, but only work on one at a time

He did this throughout his life, and while, admittedly fell short in a lot of respects, he believed he became a much better man for his efforts. I think that's a pretty sensible approach. Why not take a page from Ben Franklin's game plan?

Get out your journal and open it to a clean page. Create a grid and in the columns at the top mark the days of the week. Down the left side, write the behaviors you want to modify.

  • Appropriate Objectives
  • Being decisive vs indecision
  • Knowing enough vs needing to know it all
  • Keeping it simple vs Love the complex
  • Focus and attention
  • Starting with no vs saying yes
  • Sequential tasking vs Multitasking
  • Strategic Vision vs Shiny objects
  • Following through
  • Accountability
  • Keeping your word vs breaking your word

Keep tabs on your behaviors every day, but only focus on improving one behavior at a time.

Be sure to work on only one behavior at a time. It will be much easier and I guarantee that in a short time, you'll start to see significant changes in your behavior as well as in the success of your business.

A Few Final Thoughts

One of my jobs as a business building coach is to help guide folks down the path toward fantastic entrepreneurial success by showing you powerful, proven tactics, strategies, ideas and processes that have made millions of dollars for thousands of entrepreneurs around the world. I've seen them all first hand. I've tested and implemented nearly all of them myself. I know they work like gangbusters, and I want to see them work for you.

But I also have another job. One I take very seriously. And that is to warn you of the pitfalls that will derail your very best efforts at becoming a successful strategic entrepreneur. That's why I sat down to write this article.

In all honesty, it's not a pleasant article. It talks more about failure than probably anything I've ever written before. Unsettling as they are, these are things you absolutely must know. They are dangers, toxic behaviors that won't simply stall your business – they will kill it.

No other business coach will tell you these things. In fact, thinking back, I don't think I've ever written a report quite like this one before. So consider this report to be like gold in your hands.

Listen, the behaviors I laid out for you in this report are poison. It's not a question of “IF.” It's only a question of “WHEN.” When they'll finally start taking their toll in full force. When their effects, which may have largely been invisible on the surface, suddenly show themselves as your business begins to implode.

If you are engaging in any of these behaviors, there is no time to waste in correcting them. If their effects have already begun to take hold, the clock is ticking on everything you've worked to build.

The Three Entrepreneurs…

Now if what I suspect is right, there are three types of people who will read this article.

The first type will read it through once, and go back through it a second time with a pen and a pad to make notes. They'll start critically reviewing their own behavior looking for any signs they may be exhibiting them. If they find any, they'll put all their pride on the shelf and start working to change them. They are true strategic entrepreneurs. Business people who will realize their greatest dreams of success.

Why? Because they take their success very seriously. You can read all you want, become the most well-read person in your business niche. Unless you DO SOMETHING with the knowledge you have amassed, it won't do you a bit of good.

The second type will agree with everything I've written here. He'll say, “Yeah, Rich is right. I really do need to work on these. But I'm so busy, I just need to get X, Y, and Z done first…” He'll put off fixing them… and never come back. He'll exhibit a lack of follow through (and should probably go back and re-read that section.)

The third type will read this report and say “oh, that's not me.” They'll deny their behaviors, and make excuses. (“I've always done that before.”)

If that's you, I'm sorry to tell you, your business is doomed to fail. One day you will wake up and your business will be gone. I know that's not something you as an entrepreneur want to hear. But I believe I have a moral responsibility to tell you the truth. And the best way to make a point like that is not to sugarcoat it.

Sorry, but everything won't be alright.

These business behaviors aren't to be taken lightly. If you've managed to get away with them so far and grown your business to any degree, it's not because of your entrepreneurial skills. It's because of luck. Plain and simple. And frankly, my friend, luck is not a business strategy. They will catch up with you. Possibly when you have the most to lose.

Another Ugly Truth About Businesses that Fail

Let me tell you a hard truth about business and life. One that I've seen first hand.

It's not easy to be broke. Living month to month in a job where you're underpaid and under-appreciated. A lot of people struggle all their lives that way though. And it's not so bad for them because they don't know anything different.

What is painful to watch is when an entrepreneur has achieved some level of success, and gives it all back when their business fails. I've seen that first hand. Successful entrepreneurs who, through preventable consequences, have sat by and watched their businesses self-destruct.

I've seen amazing entrepreneurs, who were big in the market when I first started out, who've ended up going back to get jobs. Individuals who once lived a comfortable, wealthy lifestyle suddenly having to cut back to the bare minimum. Things like going to a bookstore and having to think twice about whether they could even afford a book they wanted become the new reality of their lives. That is the real tragedy.

That's why I want so desperately to warn you about these dangers.

And knowing what you know now, why wouldn't you take steps to protect everything you've earned and are trying to build? I can't think of a plausible reason. Ignoring the signals I've laid out for you is like putting your business on death row. You may be able to stall the inevitable, but eventually the sentence these behaviors have pronounced on your business will be carried out.

But understanding the critical information in this article will prevent that. It will speed your success and insulate you from the dangers that threaten so many unsuspecting entrepreneurs. The report you're holding in your hands, I firmly believe, will take years off your business building plan.

So now the decision is up to you. I've packed this article with every dangerous behavior I have seen in my years of business coaching. I have done everything within my power to convince you of its importance. Now it's up to you to take action. To assess your behaviors and to correct them.

Remember, it takes time. Changing a behavior is a process, not an event. You will have to put in some time and effort. But isn't your business worth it? If you put in the effort, you will begin to see changes. In your behavior and your business. And what's more, as your new behaviors become ingrained, they'll soon become like second nature to you.

Commerce | Business | Marketing


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