What does control have to do with growing a business?
Well, I’ll tell you, quite a lot. But maybe not in the ways you’d expect.
You may think that as an entrepreneur, you’ll have perfect control over your life or your schedule. No one will tell you when to clock in or out, or how many sick days you have left this year. You’ll be your own master.
You might imagine a future where you have employees or staff, people to help you do the busy, not-so-glamorous work of building a business.
And perhaps, you have a vision of greater self-control. If only I worked for myself, I’d be sure to fit in a workout every day/make healthier food choices/save more money.
When you work for yourself, it’s true that you’ll set your own schedule and report only to yourself. You might hire employees, and you may be able to build those better habits and the discipline you’ve always wanted in your day-to-day life.
But when you’re talking about control and your business, the most important task is learning to understand and accept what you can and can’t control, and how these areas of influence play a big part in your approach to growth.
Writer Amy Morin, a contributor at INC.com, put it powerfully when she wrote, “Recognize that sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you'll be much more effective.”
You’ll never be able to control another person’s budget, priorities, or decisions when it comes to whether to buy your product. Sure, you can show them the benefits, offer them a glimpse into the rewards and the lifestyle, and share discounts, samples, and special offers. But, if they’re not ready to buy, they won’t cross that line and become a customer.
Likewise, you can’t control the behavior of your colleagues or partners. You can explain your hopes and expectations, and even hold them accountable to certain benchmarks if you are paying their salaries, but without turning into a monster micro-manager (and who likes a micro-manager?), you can’t control their actual work and end result.
Here’s what you can control: Your own goals. Your own activity. And your own attitude.
You can set ambitious but achievable goals, and adopt a positive mindset to propel you forward. You can control the number of times you’re sharing your business with others, whether informally or as part of an official outreach.
You can control how you respond when a prospect falls flat, or someone you’d hoped would sign up as a partner walks away.
And, you can control how you pick yourself up from a failure or a disappointment and re-energize to keep working toward those same goals you set in the first place.
And let’s be frank here. If you’re going to succeed, taking control of your activity is going to be one of the most important things that you do. It might look like making that 10th call on a day when you’d only planned to make 5, but the first 5 went poorly. It could be showing up at yet another social event when all you want to do is relax on the couch with a blanket and some tea. Or, it might be encouraging a partner who is growing explosively, while you’re in a period of stagnant growth. Whatever situation you find yourself in, remind yourself that the action is more important than the result. The action is where your power lies.
An endless number of inspirational voices have written about efficiency in business, from Steven Covey to Brian Tracy to Kelly McGonigal. A common thread amongst these professionals and others working in this sphere is an emphasis on what’s within your sphere of influence and what you have the ability and power to control.
Understanding what you can control, and focusing your efforts there, with the support of tools to maximize your efficiency (like Traktivity), is the best way to begin and to maintain sustained progress.
Today, TRAKstars, I encourage you to think about how you’re taking control of your growth.
Are you making excuses and allowing disappointments to shift your focus from your goals? Are you allowing others to be too powerful in your own important and unique story?
As we wrap up the year and prepare for 2018, and in preparation for my upcoming series on goal setting, I want to challenge you to take control and take ownership. Because if you don’t own your business -- who will?