To succeed in business you do require self-discipline. To me, discipline is not a bad thing. Many people balk at the idea of discipline and if you look up the meaning of ‘discipline’ it is “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.” – I see why people shy away from this concept. However, look up self-discipline and you’ll see it means “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses.”
Fortunately (or unfortunately), self-discipline is not a definite. It has degrees. For someone avoiding sweets, is self-discipline out the door if you eat a block of chocolate? What about a row? What about a single square? Now factor that over time; is that one block a day or a month? Is it one square a day or an hour? But, I’m not going to talk about general self-discipline, I’m going to talk about business discipline and specifically 7 areas where you really do need to be self-disciplined in business.
Discipline in Business
1. Turning Up
What I mean by this is being present. It might be that you turn up each and every day and work a full 8 hour (or more day). However, if you are just going through the motions and not engaged and really lacking passion for your business, are you really turning up? For others, it is far more obvious. They sleep in late, have frequent long lunches, spending all day on Facebook or chatting with friends. They are not working on their business; they are frequently AWOL.
2. Having Focus on Money
Whilst we certainly need to focus on a number of areas of business, one important area is the money side of things. It starts with making sure that invoices are issued promptly. It incorporates good bookkeeping practices and whether that is you or you outsource, it still should be done promptly and correctly. Debt collection is another area many people avoid – in fact, several CPA Surveys have shown that only 25% of business pick up the phone and ask to be paid. As an experienced business coach, another area some business owners struggle is actually looking at (and sometimes understanding) their financial reports on a very regular basis. Yes, it’s history, but we can absolutely learn from history and can develop a strategy and a plan from those learnings.
3. Actioning Improvement or Growth Strategies
Sometimes a big part of business coaching is accountability. Someone keeping you on track to ensure you do what needs to be done. I set homework with clients and always follow up next session that it was done. Some clients follow through with 110% action, others frequently have reasons (aka excuses) why things didn’t get done. I know what busy is! At one point, I had 3 businesses, with one of these having 5 locations around Australia; 25 staff and over 400 clients. How easy would it have been for me to say I’m busy and not focus on one of the smaller businesses? How easy would it have been for me to not focus on margins, KPIs, budgets, performance reviews, sales leads, marketing strategy, team engagement and so much more? Between time mastery skills, delegation, focus, discipline and solid planning you can do better. I didn’t start at this level too; we should build up to it – mastering one skill or segment first before working on the next.
4. Selling Correctly
Is there a wrong way to sell? Well, yes there is. One example is taking a week to contact a new lead. Not following up on a quotation you’ve sent through. Doing the ‘hard sell’ too quickly can be fatal. Presuming what they need before you’ve even taken a moment to listen to the prospect’s pains, needs, wants. Passing the job of selling onto your prospect is wrong. For example, one person who was giving me a quote actually said to me “Donna, can you text me please on Friday morning and remind me to go around to your place and do that quote?” I actually told this person no. We have to clearly understand it’s our job to do our job; not our prospect’s. Don’t ask or expect your prospect to do your job!
5. Doing your Marketing
I completely understand that marketing can be a full-time job in its own right. If you’re a solo operator, it can be hard to do everything. When you’re busy working and earning an income, you just don’t have the time … so what happens? You stop marketing, the work stops coming in, you run out of work, then market again and so continues the roller coaster ride that is your workload. There are so many options when it comes to marketing, ranging in cost from no cost to high cost, and much in between. Some marketing can be pre-planned and scheduled. But whatever you do, you do need to market your business. On the most part, gone are the days that business just falls in your lap, especially if you’ve not been around for 20 or 30 years.
6. Always Improving
Time is one of the biggest challenges. We’re always struggling to get things done and so another area which is frequently neglected is professional development. This may be specific skill enhancement or expanding your knowledge through training (such as my Sales Training Workshop, education, coaching, listening to audios or reading blogs, articles and pieces on business. You might do a course 3 or 4 times a year, or spend a half hour once a week reading, or perhaps 15 minutes every night. It doesn’t need to be excessive, but it does need to happen. Scheduling your training in advance means you get to lock that time away, or diarise in your schedule that small block of reading time each week. Alternatively, have an audio or podcast ready to listen to in the car. My boys (when younger) used to complain about all the business stuff I played in the car, but they are all successful and smart young men – something positive rubbed off on them!
7. Self-Discipline to not fall back into Old Habits
Yes, it even takes discipline to keep on track and build new habits. It’s a little like New Year Resolutions; usually by Valentine’s they have fallen by the wayside. That’s common; you need to keep up the focus and discipline to not revert back to old habits, or ease back into our comfort zone. It may be about consistently getting up a little earlier so that you can get things done, or not staying up late watching TV, instead of getting a decent night’s sleep so you can perform well the next day. It might be keeping on with the reading, or remaining positive and driven even when faced with a challenge. For many of us, we dislike change; so when someone suggests something to you to do differently, instead of falling into that old habit of an instant ‘no’ … give that idea some thought. Are you saying ‘no’ because it’s a bad idea, or because it’s new and represents change?
If you need a little help with your own self-discipline, focus, clarity or direction in business, talk to me about my business coaching programs or one of my training courses. Call me today on 0411 622 666. I’m here to help.