I’ve seen many aspiring entrepreneurs get stuck year after year in building and growing their businesses. They get caught up on their mission statement, their marketing, their website, and what happens is it paralyzes them. They wait for everything to be perfect before they move forward. They stop moving, hoping—waiting—for the perfect answer to emerge out of thin air.
But being successful isn’t a result of perfect choices. It’s about getting comfortable with going out there and doing things IMPERFECTLY.
Running a successful business works like this: You’ve got to just get out there! Throw the spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks. Once you start taking action, you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t—and THEN the insights and clarity will start coming to you. If you can learn to get comfortable with this mindset, you’ll have more fun in your business, and free yourself to innovate and grow. And, I guarantee you’ll start making money more quickly.
In my online business training program Elevate, Head Coach James Roche shares a Japanese principle called Kaizen to illustrate this concept.
Kaizen was introduced to the United States in 1986, when author Masaaki Imai published the book, Kaizen: the Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.
Imai defined Kaizen as “a means of continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life.” As a business owner, think of Kaizen as the art of using small, trivial steps to accomplish large objectives.
Toyota is one of the most popular examples of big organizations that practice Kaizen. In the assembly line at Toyota, if a worker has an idea for even a slight improvement, they are asked to pull the chord, and stop production. A group of engineers and specialists come down to the assembly line to discuss the proposed improvement, and they work to implement the idea as fast as possible to get the line moving again.
Employees are rewarded for giving these ideas, which could be something like, “We’re putting ten screws here, and we only need nine.” Engineers and Quality Assurance folks would then test it out with only nine screws, and if they discovered that indeed, nine screws were just as safe, they’d keep the idea—and save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.
Let’s look at an example that hits closer to home for small business owners. Lisa is a hair stylist who works in Los Angeles. Her clients come to see her from all parts of town, some even driving an hour. But in a big city like L.A., it’s been a challenge for Suzie to keep her clients coming in on a steady basis. Talented hair stylists are everywhere, and when faced with L.A. traffic, her clients occasionally choose another salon simply out of convenience.
She realizes that most of her clients were Beverly Hills adjacent. If Lisa were looking for the perfect answer, she might drop everything to open a beautiful Beverly Hills salon, where high-paying clients would flock to see her on her own specific schedule. She might get stuck thinking of the money she’d need to save for this Beverly Hills dream and the extra training she should pursue so she could raise her credentials, her prices, etc. None of these are bad ideas, but they will take time and money to make happen.
Now let’s get Lisa comfortable with taking imperfect action. She could rent a station at a Beverly Hills salon one day a week, and try another station in another part of town where her other clients are, so her clients in different areas could access her easily. Once she was established in different pockets of L.A., her clients could spread the word about her services to their local friends, which could establish her reputation throughout L.A.. It’s an easy-to-implement solution that she can act on immediately.
Now, let’s give a quick personal example. Lately Suzie has been indulging for the holidays quite a bit, and she’s enjoying every food she likes! Problem is now her jeans don’t fit, and she realizes she’s put on an easy 10 pounds. At first, she gets really down on herself and decides to get in the best shape of her life, run a marathon, workout every day, and eat an extreme diet. Well, you know as well as I do that she’s setting herself up for failure! Big goals are great to keep in mind, but instead if Suzie decided to take imperfect action, she could say, “Well OK, I’m going to switch my usual burgers for lunch for a big salad with chicken instead. And I’m going to join a gym and commit to going three days a week.” After she builds on these successes, she’ll start to see results and get excited about her bigger goals. See how this works?
Remember, success is not just an intellectual exercise. It’s an *activity exercise*. Action is required, even if it’s not PERFECT.
QUESTION: What are a few imperfect action steps you can take today to get you on your path to accomplishing one of your resolutions? We’re all in this together, so please share below!
© 2013 Ali International, LLC
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