"Speed kills." - Jimmy Johnson, World Champion Football Coach
That single quote embodied Jimmy Johnson's entire philosophy of building championship football teams. Why? Because all athletes make mistakes while in the fevered pace of the game. However, fast players can get back into the proper position, which allows them to execute despite their errors.
Likewise, in basketball, the most productive rebounders aren't normally the tallest or biggest players. That's because, in that phase of the game, smaller and quicker beats bigger, stronger, and slower just about every time.
Speed is also the Great Dominator in business.
I would like to show you why the speed of your business decision-making, planning, and execution might be the difference between you making it to the next level or remaining part of the pack. We'll talk about why companies are slow and how you can pick up the pace, and when you have finished reading, my hope is that you'll be inspired to go faster and, thereby, go higher in your profession.
Why is Speed So Important To a Business?
The Silicon Valley rule-of-thumb is that any good idea is being contemplated by at least five other people at any given moment. Therefore, you're always in a race whether you know it or not. How many times in your life have you seen someone get rich off an idea that you had also? Probably lots of times. What was the difference between you two? It was probably not intelligence...raw intelligence is not necessarily the primary success factor in entrepreneurship. The difference was execution...often, the speed of execution.
Second, speed is important because time is actually a more precious resource than money, especially for a start-up company. "You can always get more money, but you can never get more time," says Jeff Levy, Founder, President, and CEO of eHatchery, an Atlanta-based business incubator. In Mr. Levy's industry, just like in yours I'll bet, ideas and money are more plentiful than the ability to execute the plans. The fastest entrepreneurial teams win the races to the consumers' doors.
Third, speed is important because it can be your only advantage when going against the giants. This concept allowed young Michael Dell to beat Big Blue (IBM) in computer sales. It has allowed Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to chip away at Intel's market share steadily and surely. AMD used to be constantly behind Intel in developing faster microprocessors. Now they are a major force in pushing technology advancements. AMD became a player by drastically cutting the time it takes to get updates of their microprocessors to the market.
This thought is best expressed by David Allen, productivity coach and founder of David Allen & Company, who said, "power comes from speed, not from muscle." The speed with which he swings the golf club allows Tiger Woods to make the longest drives from the tee. In baseball, it is bat speed that creates many home runs. By the same token, speed can allow a small company to overcome the large staffs, enormous budgets, and entrenched market positions of the big boys.
Seven Things You Can Do to Speed Up Your Business
So now that you can see from the above examples that speed is lethal, how do you go about speeding up your operation? Here are seven attitudes that you can adopt right now to help you and your staff pick up the pace.
1. Cast fear aside. Bigger companies start to think that they have more to lose than the little guys and this concern slows them down. Ironically, even though they are right, they are also wrong. A large company can indeed suffer big losses by making mistakes. But the large company can also afford to recover. Look at Coca-Cola with New Coke. They blundered and recovered and are still growing strong. Seth Godin, Entrepreneur and Author, captured this well by offering this statement: "Businesses are not slow because they are big; they are slow because they are afraid."
2. Focus. It is impossible to run as fast as you can while looking at your competitors around and behind you. Every time you lose focus on your immediate objectives, you slow down. Every time you slow down, you increase the chance that you'll not reach your ultimate goal.
3. Stop being a perfectionist. Being excellent is more important than being perfect. First, you'll never be perfect, so stop being obsessed by it. Second, some things are worth doing first, even if done poorly. In some markets, you'll do better in the long run if you can get there first. Hopefully, you can be improving your services by the time your competitors are moving in. Finally, Relax! An axiom from martial arts states: the tense muscle is a slow muscle. You've got to be stress-free and loose to get the best out of yourself and your team.
4. Eliminate bottlenecks in your company, even if you are the bottleneck! Make decisions faster. Napoleon Hill says in his best-selling book, Think and Grow Rich, that he noticed that financially successful people developed the habit of making decisions faster than others, but changed their minds about their decisions more slowly than others. When you have to make a decision, make it.
5. Do more planning. Moving faster will do you no good if you can't be effective. As John Wooden, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach used to tell his players, "Hurry up, but don't rush." You can eliminate rushing by planning more of your activities. Time and efficiency experts estimate that each hour of planning eliminates three hours of execution.
6. Develop a sense of urgency. Urgency means having an attitude that the job should have been done "yesterday." This comes from a deep-seated belief that you don't have time to lose. Whatever the source of your urgency, use it to your benefit and urge yourself to make the most of every moment.
7. Have more fun. People do what they enjoy doing. In fact, most folk rarely procrastinate when it comes to having fun. They delay doing things that they associate with pain or fear. Here is my suggestion: turn work into a game. Tell some jokes. Enjoy your days. If you can make your work fun, I can guarantee that you'll get more of it done more often.
Now get up and getting busy right now. Make a commitment to yourself to focus and finish faster. You'll be that much closer to your next success!
Mark Anthony McCray is the Founder of "Live Big, Die Empty" a movement designed to help people live life more abundantly and walk in the purposes for which they were created. Write or call 832-566-2001 for more information and follow Mark on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MARKMCCRAY and http://www.twitter.com/LiveBigDieEmpty and http://www.twitter.com/TheKoholeth
"Speed kills." - Jimmy Johnson, World Champion Football Coach