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How to Make Things Happen

You may know how to organize, delegate, sell, provide great service, and make a killer business plan. But do you know how to make things happen? Too often business people assume because they have talent that talent will automatically convert into high business profits. That is simply not true. If you want to leverage pure […]

You may know how to organize, delegate, sell, provide great service, and make a killer business plan. But do you know how to make things happen? Too often business people assume because they have talent that talent will automatically convert into high business profits. That is simply not true. If you want to leverage pure talent, your best bet is to get a job where you have the structure to put that talent to work. If you want to succeed in business, you must have the additional ability to make things happen.

If you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions, you have room for improvement in the area of making things happen:

  • Do you have a great business plan with faith that you can succeed but struggle to do the simple tasks like getting out in the field or answering your phone when it rings?
  • Do you justify poor results because of things which have happened “outside your control”?
  • Do you continuously have to revise your plans down and down because you are not achieving your goals?
  • Do you feel like you could make more sales if you really gave this business 100% of your focus?
  • Do you imagine yourself making hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in ten years but can’t pay the bills right now?
  • Do you love talking about business and strategy but don’t often think about details such as “how do I improve my voicemail message?” or “how could I talk to two or three more business owners per week?”  My name is James Shepherd. When I started my business I was just like many of you reading this blog post. I had started several businesses in the past with mixed success. I had always done great whenever I had a job and moved up the ladder quickly in sales numbers and management, but something was missing! I loved business and thought about succeeding in business constantly, but somehow I found myself broke with the reality of business failure in front of me. Five years later my wife and I now have a life that we love, and our business is one of the fastest growing teams in our industry with increased profits every year. What happened? I learned a new skill: something not taught in many business books or learned at a job. I found the ability to make things happen. I am fully convinced that this skill is not only a separate talent but is crucial to succeeding on your own in any venture. Here are my tips on how to make things happen! Please comment below with any additional tips you may have picked up on your journey towards business success.

#1 – Decide which problem you are going to have: Too Much Work or Too Little Work. You are always going to have one of these two problems in business. If you want to make things happen, you must decide no matter what it takes you will have the “Too Much Work” problem. I know that sounds obvious, but what does it mean? It means you are going to make things happen until you are so swamped you have no idea how you are going to get it all done. If your goal is simply to have “Too Much Work” to do in your business, you can easily think of things that will help you accomplish this goal. I found that if I spent four to six hours every single day in the field prospecting, I had so many prospects that I could never follow up adequately on all of them. So I had to focus on the really good ones who I knew wanted to buy from me.  I made a commitment to provide free paper to my clients every three months and asked them to call me when they got to their last roll. This created a lot of extra work for me and a lot of referrals.

The idea is to think of ways you can manufacture work in your business, because any work you do in your business is better than not doing any work at all. Many times I talk to an agent who is depressed about his or her business. The agent asks me, “How can I make something happen and get some money rolling in?” This is asked as if the agent is looking at all of the possible actions and evaluating which one is the best. I respond, “What are doing right now?” The answer, “I am sitting here watching TV.” My response, “Who cares which action you choose; anything on your list would get you to success faster than watching TV!!!!”

In other words, you have to step back from your business and ask this question, “Do I have too much inbound work to handle?” When I say “inbound” work, I mean work that is coming to you. Are people calling you? Are people expecting you to show up to an appointment? If not, then you have left yourself the option to be lazy. That is a very dangerous option to leave yourself. In order to make something happen, you must choose to have more work than you can handle. Then set out doing anything you can think of for your business which will generate inbound work for you to do. Don’t focus as much on which action you should take; just throw a dart at the board and DO SOMETHING!

#2 – Stop Thinking / Planning and Start Acting: “Plan Paralysis” kills more business and sales agents than lack of capital, poor strategy, lack of ability or lack of business knowledge combined. Do you say things like, “I am almost done with the training. Then I am going to…” or “As soon as I get my business cards I am going to…” or “I have an amazing idea for how I could shape my business next year. So I am going to take another week to get my strategy down and then…” All of these statements will keep you from making things happen.

When I came to this industry, I sat in on a two hour training webinar that really provided no real information I needed. The next morning I was walking into my first business location. I had no business cards. I had nothing except a contract form in order to make a sale. The real problem here is pride. Let’s face it; we don’t want to look stupid!!! We want to be experts, and we want to appear professional when we go out in the field. That is great. But let me share a harsh reality with you: You are going to look stupid on your first ten or fifteen business visits no matter what you do, how long you spend on our training, or what kind of marketing materials you have. Every medical intern looks nervous and unprofessional on the first procedure, and he or she has gone through eight or twelve years of training.

“Doing” is just different than “planning.” It is a different skill set that must be developed over time through experience. And again going back to point number 1, walk into twenty businesses on Monday looking unprofessional, and you are going to get something out of that and generate some work. If you stay at home on Monday, you will still have the “Too Little Work” problem which you never want to have.

#3 – Re-Define “Short Term Planning” to this week and this month.  I love, love, love long term planning. But this love absolutely kills me in business if I am not careful. Long term planning is so far from reality that it is usually almost comical. I talked to an agent once who told me, “I am going to clear 500K next year in income.” I asked, “Okay, how much are you going to make this year?” He answered, “Well, it is too soon to tell.” This was in August. My next statement, “Not really, just look at what you made so far this year. Divide that amount by eight months and then multiply by twelve.” He wouldn’t give me a straight answer. So I proceeded, “Okay, let’s re-define your planning here. How much money are you going to make this week?” He said, “I don’t think I am going to make any money this week.” My next reply, “We are more than half way through August; how much are you going to make in August?” He said, “I don’t know.” I finished, “So far in August you have made nothing from merchant services. If we extrapolate that out for the rest of the month, you are going to make nothing.” The amazing thing is how certain he was of his air tight plan to make $500,000 the next year. While this is an extreme example, we all do this in our own way. We dream about making tons of money in the future or buying that big house, etc.  Having big dreams can be motivating. But if it distracts you from thinking about your plan for today, for this week, or for this month, then it is going to kill your business. If you want to stay in your right mind and keep your family from killing you while you build your business, you must create accountability and hold yourself accountable to very, very short term plans. The worse things get, the shorter term your plans need to be. If you are flat broke, behind on all your bills with no idea of how you are going to pull yourself out of the hole, you need to make a plan for how you will spend the next three or four hours in order to move your business forward. You may not be ready to face the reality of tomorrow or next week. If you are getting started in this business and need to bring in some income, focus on a plan for today or for this week.

#4 – Learn to Love Accountability. Unfortunately, many sales agents start a merchant services business in order to escape their day job. This is very dangerous. In doing so, you may have it in your mind that you hated all the structure of your job. The idea of having to show up to work at a certain time each day bothered you; you wanted more “schedule flexibility.” If that is why you quit your job, I have some bad news for you. You need probably ten times more structure and accountability to succeed in business as you do in a job. Just like the choice between too much work and not enough work, you must also choose between too much accountability and not enough.

Always choose more accountability; seek it out like you would a huge sale. If you knew that there was a huge potential sale for you right now, what would you do to get it?  Bring that same passion to your search for accountability. Who could provide you with accountability? How could they provide it? In what areas do you need the most accountability? Always have accountability on your mind and work to increase it. Have each of your close friends call you on a different day of the week to make sure you are giving your business 100% and not wimping out because of some lame excuse. Have your pastor text you at 8 a.m. every day for the first month to make sure your day is off to a good start. Email a sales activity report to all of your friends every day. Or post your daily results showing your variance to your goal and ask for comments. Give your spouse a list of how many vacation and sick days you have given yourself and have him or her keep track. Agree to this deal: if you exceed that number of days off and are still unable to pay the bills, fire yourself in order to go get a job again for a few years to learn structure.

#5 – Break up big tasks into small, rewarded action steps. To “Be Really Successful” is a daunting goal. If your goal is to “make twenty sales this month,” that is a scary goal. Your goal of “dominating this market for merchant services,” reveals your need to step back. How about one of these goals:

(1) “I am going to leave my house right now and walk into five businesses.”
(2) “I am going to spend the next hour in the field.” After this initial goal, you may end up feeling more confident and excited. You might extend your goal further. But if you want to make things happen, you must break down your goals into small action steps. Not only that, but you must add a reward to this action step. Choose any activity to which you look forward and make it a reward for a specific action step.

For instance, tell your spouse, “Honey, I think we should go out tonight as a reward for me walking into twenty businesses today and for you putting up with my constant drive for business.” Or, “I am going to go prospecting for two hours. Then I am going to come home and watch my favorite TV Show that I DVR’d.” So if you have something you just really love, figure out a way to tie it to a specific action step as a reward. Then watch your productivity shoot through the roof! It is not easy to really make things happen. You can find dozens of people to talk about or plan about or think about making things happen, but that is not even half of the battle. If you want to succeed in business, you MUST develop the unique and highly valuable skill ofmaking things happen.

I hope these short tips were a help to you!

James Shepherd

Read previous post:  The Value of an Account

The Value of an Account

Read next post:  How to Overcome the Objection:  “I Don’t Want to Switch.”

How to Overcome the Objection: “I Don’t Want to Switch.”


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