Success Continuum

What is the Success Continuum? The Success Continuum is a simple and easy strategy to follow to set you and your business up for maximum success, whatever that specifically means to you.

Why is the Success Continuum important? You have heard the adage ‘Most people do not plan to fail, they just fail to plan’. If you do not currently have a plan in place to get you from where you are to where you want to be then whatever success you have is likely fleeting based on things like luck, good fortune, serendipity but it is not based on a plan. The Success Continuum is important because it offers a step-by-step process anyone can follow to put this plan in place and more important execute the plan and make course corrections as required.

Let’s start with the difference between strategy and tactics. Strategy is the What and Tactics is the How. As previously defined, the Success Continuum is a Strategy but without the associated Tactics you will never to the Success you desire. One of my 4 Sales Pillars I write about in my book is Plan Meticulously and Execute Flawlessly so throughout this post you are going to see this repeated over and over.

There are 6 steps in the Success Continuum including

  1. Determine your Why or Mission
  2. Set Objectives/Targets/Goals
  3. Plan Meticulously
  4. Define Actionable Activities
  5. Get to Work – Execute Flawlessly
  6. Monitor, Measure, Adjust and Adapt

Determine your Why or Mission. The first thing you need to do is to determine your why. What gets you out of bed in the morning, what motivates you to have a fantastic day? In a corporate sense, we often will call this the mission statement. On a personal level, it's your why. It truly is a foundational piece for you and your business.

If you look at the image of the Success Continuum you will see the Determine your Why stands alone outside the ‘cycle’ of the rest of the steps. This is because the Why is long term and enduring and should not change often. Over time you may tweak or adjust it but it is really like the beacon of light you are reaching for that always seems just outside your grasp.

Some of you might be musing something like ‘here it comes – more psychobabble’ about goals. Perhaps that is true but there is massive evidence to prove that in the absence of compelling reasons to do something, the overwhelming majority of people will give up when the going gets a bit tough. I would encourage you to not just read but work through, absorb and implement the thoughts and ideas of two books. First is Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, often considered to have launched the personal development industry back in 1937. Click Here to read a great article published in Forbes reinforcing the value of this book. The second book is another business classic from Dr Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Set Objectives or Goals or Targets. For business this typically means, as a minimum, what your revenue and profit targets will be for the next quarter or fiscal year. I would encourage you to think longer term and establish a 3 or 5 year goal and then work backwards from that with interim targets that ultimately include the next FY and quarter. Not all business goals are fiscal; you can have team goals, product or service offering goals, community investment goals and more.

There are literally hundreds or maybe even thousands of online resources available to assist you to think and work through this target or goal setting step. I really like what is called SMART where

  • S = Specific. The more specific the goal the better. For financial goals this is usually a number but for other goals it may not be as easy to define and develop.
  • M = Measurable. You must be able to track your progress to achieving your goal. The more specific the goal the easier it is to put in place some type of measurement criteria.
  • A = Achievable. This is the trickiest part of goal setting. If you set a goal that is too low or easy to achieve it is less compelling and can stifle activity. If you set a goal that is too high, it is easy to simply give up when you fall behind. There should always be a ‘reach’ factor for the goal or target.
  • R = Realistic or Relevant. Realistic and Achievable are not the same thing perhaps except if the goal is purely financial. A realistic or relevant goal is one that aligns with your company why or mission. As an example, if you are a B2B company and your goal is to launch a new consumer product but you have never sold into the consumer marketplace, this might not be realistic.
  • T = Time Sensitive. A goal without a deadline is simply a dream. By binding the goal to a specific timeframe, it drives much of the follow on planning and activities that must be undertaken to achieve the goal.

Plan Meticulously. This is where this whole process falls apart for a lot of business owners. The reason most business fail to plan is they do not know how. Business planning is not well understood so even when it is done, it is done poorly. I have created a Decision and Business Planning Process that is scalable and adaptable to every situation, is based on a model that has been around for decades and proven to work and is easily learned and implemented. It if you would to learn more about that Process feel free to reach out to me using the link at the bottom.

Define Actionable Activities. Part of what comes out of the planning process are a list of actionable activities that must be scheduled and completed. One of my Sales Truths is that you cannot Control your Results, but you can Control the Activities that lead to Results. There are way too many variables for you to be able to exercise complete control over the results you get in business and in life. One of the other great benefits of following my Decision and Planning Process is it does not just give you one path forward; it also gives you a bunch of contingencies you can implement when things do not go as initially intended.

Get to Work – Execute Flawlessly. In the absence of action or execution you have nothing except a nice-looking plan. The key here is to make sure you have defined the activities or tasks in enough detail that they can be individually addressed. Each activity should have either a completion date or one or more interim milestones to completion. If you have a team the next step is to figure out who to delegate the activities to for completion. Delegation is part art and part science and if you are not sure how to best do this have a look at my tip on Delegation.

Monitor, Measure, Adjust and Adapt. Behind planning, this is typically the next step that is poorly done. The size of the goal, the complexity of the plan and the number of unique tasks to be completed will determine how much time and effort need to be taken with this step. At one extreme you could simply be reviewing a quick review of the results to confirm if the objective was met and moving on. At the other extreme this could be months or years in play with multiple team members directly involved and you could be having regularly scheduled update meetings. Regardless, it is highly recommended you put in place some type of Key Performance Indicators or KPIs that can be easily measured and tracked.

So first you monitor and then you measure. If you are falling short of expected results you must adjust and adapt. You have a couple decisions to make; do you change the short term goals or targets or objectives or do you change the underlying plan and activities that lead to the results? Do you or your team need training or coaching? Are you doing things well but simply overestimated how the activities would drive results? This is so situationally dependent there is no standard answer.

One caveat or piece of advice; if your target is quite significant and there is lots of time left to achieve it, I would caution about taking knee jerk reactions too quickly. Patience is a virtue most small business owners (including me) are not usually blessed with, but we have to be disciplined and have stamina. If you feel like you have to make changes (adjust and adapt) start with small changes. Good marketers constantly talk about split or A/B testing where you try two things at the same time to figure out quantitatively which works better and no matter how good one is over the over you are always in a split test mode to try to improve results.

On larger and longer term goals you could be cycling through the continuum a number of times. With financial goals, you will probably review the results on at least a monthly basis against a quarterly or annual objective.

Each step in the Success Continuum is a hefty amount of work and the reality is most small business owners have neither the training nor experience to do it all themselves. Truthfully, I have only scratched the surface of this but you are now at least aware of what is involved to create long term enduring success in your business. Having reviewed this some might say it is a template or model for a Strategic plan and to me that is partially true, but it is so much more if you dig deeper and truly commit to creating expertise individually or in your team to do each of the steps.

If you would like to have a chat about how to develop and implement your Success Continuum or one or more of the steps in the Continuum, book a call with me to see if it makes sense to work together.