“The swirl” is one of the things we talk about with Harley-Davidson dealers when we are coaching them to improve the profitability of their dealerships.
At any given time in a dealership, there are customers considering buying motorcycles, trying on clothes or waiting for their motorcycles to be serviced; service techs working on motorcycles; parts orders arriving via UPS; and a parade of salespeople walking through the showroom. There are a hundred things the dealer would like to pay attention to, and at the end of the day, he’s exhausted. He works hard every day, but he can’t find time for the things that are most important because he is too busy.
That’s the swirl. Perhaps you have it in your own business. So many different urgencies crop up that you aren’t able to work on what’s most important. It’s like one of those shooting galleries at the fair. Targets pop up and you have to shoot them quickly before they disappear again. At the carnival you’ve got concentrate on the gallery to score maximum points and get the biggest prize. It feels great when you hit all the targets, both at the carnival and in your business. When I get into the swirl in my own business, it actually feels good. It’s like I’m the head of an army that’s under attack. I’ve got projects and problems coming at me from all sides, and I’ve got to keep them all under control. While being in the swirl can feel invigorating, staying in the swirl is the wrong approach for a business owner.
Going back to my example about Harley-Davidson dealers, we taught them to create trackable goals for each department. Here is what we coached them to do:
Set your goals by first determining the total amount of money you want to make at the end of the year. Then assign a net profit contribution from each department. Based on that expectation, set goals for each month and what must be done within each department to achieve those goals. For instance, for motorcycle sales to generate the desired amount of profit, determine how many motorcycles the sales department needs to sell as a department. This will allow you to estimate the number of motorcycles each salesperson must sell each week to meet your goal.
Managing this way is like having a pause button for the swirl. You see that it exists, but it’s happening to everyone else, not you. That’s because your attention isn’t focused inside the swirl; instead you can see all the way through it, straight to your goal. You are able to keep your attention on what’s really important, driving your business toward your real business goals.
Info-marketers often get caught up in the swirl. Within the swirl we jump from one project to the next. Our goal is to keep everything running so we can quickly move on to the next big idea. We lose sight of where we are really trying to go. And it’s easy to find ourselves working and working and never seeming to make any progress.
It’s important to create a careful plan for the business you want to create. Outline the types of programs you want to offer, and create a timeline for when you’ll implement those programs. What will each of those programs contribute to your company’s profit? Who is responsible for getting them implemented? And for each person with responsibilities, what’s his or her schedule for getting the work done? These basic goal-setting and project management plans can mean the difference between getting caught in the swirl and reaching your business goals.
Three and a half months ago, you probably made some resolutions. You may have set some goals for yourself to achieve. How much progress have you made? If you’ve made progress, it’s probably because you set out monthly, weekly and daily goals in addition to just making a resolution.
If you haven’t made progress, make an appointment with yourself—an appointment you refuse to break. Outline what you need to accomplish each month to make your goals a reality. Consider what has to be done each week. And then put each week’s goals into your calendar so you’ll take a break from the swirl to get the important projects done. In the same way you’d step away from your business to go to a doctor’s appointment, step away to improve the health of your business by focusing your attention on your most important goals.
While the swirl feels good in the moment, working on your goals gives you a great feeling that lasts. It’s actually a feeling of superiority. You can hold yourself above other business owners when you see them battling within the swirl.
What do you think? Are you caught in the swirl? Or do you have a great way of setting and achieving your goals? Scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave me a comment. I read every comment and reply when appropriate.