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3 Ways to Outperform Your Competition

There is a lot of value for any organization to be gained from being “best in class, #1, champion, or industry leader, etc.”

But with so much competition and so much universal availability of resources, how can you consistently rise above and outperform your competition or even just outperform your own potential?

Simple.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to beat someone else or just break your own personal records, it brings us back to 3 truths that remain timeless and relevant even in a world of constant change and technological advancement.

1. Work Longer – Work more hours than anyone else or than you ever have before. There is so much power in sheer volume. Don’t underestimate it. Find a way to take time from insignificant activities you’re engaging in to reallocate towards your goals that really matter. (Hint: if you’re watching the US average of 27 hours a week of television, start there!)

It’s also not just your own total personal hours (which should of course always be maximized in the direction of your key priorities) but that of your team as well. When you grow your trained staff, you’re growing the total number of hours being invested into the achievement of your mission.

2. Work Faster – Become more efficient. Stay more focused. And increase your sense of urgency to squeeze the ultimate value out of each second out of yourself and your team every single day. If you can eliminate distractions or unnecessary work from yourself and your team that will give you instant lift.

Also, as discussed in our most recent book Procrastinate on Purpose, “automation is to your time what compounding interest is to your money.” So, anything that can be automated, operationalized, or streamlined should be because over the long haul you will get ROTI Return on Time Invested. Most of all though it’s your own internal intention, focus, and discipline that needs to be mastered.

3. Work Smarter – There is such a thing as “a sharper axe.” So, it does make sense to be intelligent and strategic. For example, if you’re in sales, learn to master asking for referrals, prospect by vertical markets, use scripts and get a sales coach.

If you’re a small business owner learn the tools that will help you scale your business and generate leads.

If you’re busy at all, learn to multiply your time by spending time on things today that create more time tomorrow.

If you’re a leader, create the space you need to spend time developing your people. You also could get a leadership coach to shortcut your learning curve.

But never use working smarter as an excuse or justification for working less.

And never use the excuse that if you can’t work longer for some reason that you still can’t find a way to beat your best.

Because it’s not just about working smarter or working faster, or working longer.

When it comes to outperforming your potential, it’s always about a combination of all of the above.

How to Achieve Any Dream

achieve any dream

Dreams can be inspiring but they can also be daunting.

Real dreams, the ones that fire you up, get you excited, and make your heart speed up when you think what life would be like if they came true, are compelling to have but also challenging.

Because when you find something that matters so much to you, you have a lot riding on it and that means it can be debilitating even thinking about how you might accomplish something so big.

But there is a way around that fear. There is a belief that will push you past that nervous procrastination and right into action.

The belief comes from knowing this: dreams coming true are the inevitable byproduct of focused work.

Dreams are rarely the result of luck.

Dreams are rarely the result of circumstance.

Dreams that come true are almost always directly connected to someone stepping out in faith and then consistently doing the work necessary to make them come true.  

So the question to ask is not: “Is my dream possible?”

The question to ask is: “Am I willing and able to put more work in than ever before into achieving and accomplishing my dream?”

On October 27, 2005 – the day I decided to pursue becoming the world champion of public speaking –  I actually wrote this out.

I had just learned about the contest and so I didn’t have any idea about what it took to get there. I was still basically a kid and so I thought “how is this possible?”

“I’m too young.”

“I don’t know enough.”

“I don’t have enough experience.”

But then I wrote something in my journal that I recently went back and read (as I was unpacking old boxes since we just moved) and it said:

“I have no idea if I will win. I might not be good enough. The judges might not like me. The audience might not like me. But what I know for sure is that I’m willing to work harder and longer than anyone to achieve my dream. You might beat me but you will never outwork me!”

Over the next 18 months I spoke 304 times for free, received over 1100 evaluations, spent 2000 hours watching film and read dozens of books on the subject.

And then on August 25, 2007 I came in second in the world out of 25,000 contestants from 90 countries. (Maybe I should’ve worked just a bit harder! Ha lol.)

But that’s how dream work. Dreams are simply the inevitable byproduct of your work ethic.

Don’t worry about if you’re dream will come true.

Worry about your work ethic.

Because if you are willing to work, then just about any dream for you can come true.

Variable Time: 1 Idea That Can Cost You or Make You Millions

variable time

A key expense that we manage and consider regularly in business is “variable cost.”

That is, all of the financial costs that go up proportionately with each additional unit of production. Variable costs (often interchangeably referred to as Cost Of Goods Sold – COGS) are the ones “you can never get away from” because they always go up as your sales go up.

Business leaders work relentlessly to get COGS down – often through economies of scale at larger production quantities – because that is the best way to make addition margin in each additional sale.

What is frequently overlooked by business leaders, and is potentially becoming even more valuable than variable cost, is “Variable Time.”

Variable Time is the amount of additional time required to produce one additional unit.

Since we often pay people money in exchange for their time, any additional time that is added also has an additional cost.

Anything that costs you time, costs you money.

Anything that saves you time, saves you money.

So the question that results from considering Variable Time is: “What could we do to reduce the amount of additional time each new unit requires?”

That question typically receives much less attention, if any, from leaders because it isn’t a line item on their P&L (well it is in the form of paying people but it isn’t segmented into productive time and wasted time) and they don’t create a budget for it.

At the executive level, when you’re considering a new product line, a new service, or a new initiative it would be expected – often even required – to map out how much money you will have to invest.

But what almost never gets presented and thought through is how much time it will take people.

You scrutinize and work to control every cost, but do you equally scrutinize every use of every person’s time?

The next generation of cost savings will be more about saving time than saving money.

When you start to evaluate decisions factoring in “Variable Time” you eventually come to the place of asking: “How can we make additional money without adding ANY additional time?”

And that is a genius question to ask!

Because that is a way to create profitability for you at the highest margin of all: zero variable time!

You might think “well yes, that’d be great Rory, but what could you possibly do that would really make you more money without requiring additional Variable Time?”

Actually the answer is, “lots of things”.

Here are a few examples:

1. Raise your price – Inflation goes up. Costs of living go up and so your prices every once in awhile should go up. Same amount of time on your end but more profits.

2. Charge an activation fee – Chances are you are incurring very legitimate additional expenses of both time and money to setup new clients, so it can be very fair to charge an activation fee and can actually increase the service experience your new customers have because you have resources dedicated to staff it (It also can improve retention). It’s charging for work you’re already doing.

3. Create recurring contracts – Instead of selling it for just one use, one term, or one project, simply change your sales talk to say “this is an ongoing relationship and we work with clients for x# of cycles”. That creates predictable revenue and reduces the potential future selling time needed to create the same revenue dollar.

4. Go Digital – Depending on your industry or product, convert a physical offering that has to be mailed and shipped to instead being virtual. Or if that doesn’t work, just add an additional digital element to your physical offering and bundle them together at an increased cost.

5. Target a higher end clientele – It (theoretically) takes the same amount of time to sell to a wealthy customer as it does to a less financially able customer, but one will typically buy more and buy higher margin goods than the other.

6. Keep an existing client – It’s typically much more profitable to sell to or continue on with existing clients than with new clients. Yet, sometimes we’re so focused on new business that we don’t take care of our current business. Even if a new customer makes you the same amount of money as an existing one, it will always cost you more in variable time.

7. Monetize your waste – Many companies, like manufacturers, produce waste that often can be converted fairly easily into dollars. Someone out there is likely building something or doing something with a raw material that is an unnecessary output of your core offering.

8. Get paid for results – Again, depending on your business model, it might work to be paid for your results instead of your time. Ask for a percentage of the success you help create instead of just being paid an hourly rate. Same amount of time but potentially a lot more money if it makes sense to structure things that way.  

9. Outsource – Hire other people to do things for you that can happen at a lower hourly rate than you can earn if you focus on certain higher income producing activities. A good example of this is bringing in someone to train your team for you (like we do at Southwestern Consulting) to do things like grow revenues. Even if you’re a small company, you can do things like Arnie Malham (link to my podcast interview with him) and pay your people to read books. Books are one of the fastest, cheapest, and best ways to train your people and it costs you zero time.

All of these items are examples of ways to potentially add profitability to your company without adding much or any additional time.

It’s not these examples that really matter though. It’s the consideration of “Variable Time.”

It’s your thinking that matters.

Because when the leaders thinking advances, it advances everyone.

Why We Work

work

 

Labor day is a time when we pay tribute to the workers.

We honor the contributions that men and women have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Work is usually looked at negatively but it is only through work that we get places. We create. We are fulfilled.

We were created to work.

Work is integral.

Work is freedom.

When done the right way, work is joy.

Enjoy your time of rest and when you return remember why we work.

How to Turn Around Underperformance

underperformance

Measuring results cannot be the only way you measure success.

Because by the time results show up, you’ve already missed your chance to influence the outcome.

Results are important but when it comes to using them as a tool to manage our business they are late.

They are lagging indicators.

They are looking in the review mirror.

Ultra Performers know that results are a byproduct of activity.

And while you can influence results, you often don’t have control over results. You don’t have control over who buys from you, changes in the market, or what your competition does.

What you do have control over though is yourself. You have control over your own activities.

And you have control over them each day.

If you want to start changing a corporate culture, turning around an underperforming team, or saving an organization in steep decline, don’t look at the results.

Instead look at and measure the daily activities.

Activity is a leading indicator.

It’s a predictor of success.

Activity is the cause of the results.

And you can monitor activities instantly.

Buts most companies don’t. Most companies look at results at some interval (which you should do) but they miss out on looking daily at the activity.

Changing the daily activities is how you turn a person, an organization, or a mission around.

Change today’s activities and you will change tomorrow’s results.

My Morning Routine

Success is never owned it is only rented and the rent is due every day. For me that rent begins the very second that I wake up.

I know from experience that if I can win the battle for my mind early in the day every day that my life will ultimately take shape that I want.

And unfortunately I also know that if I don’t win that battle or worse yet if I choose not to fight that battle early in the day I will begin the habit and pattern of losing in my life.

Not losing to anyone but losing the dreams that matter most to me.

And so when the alarm goes off the very first thing that I must do is say thank you. I say thank you for another day and another chance to do something that makes a difference.

Most of all I say thank you for everything that is a blessing in my life that I can possibly think of to say thank you for.

I have learned that if I am not consciously grateful for the things that I have been given that my mind tends to wander towards worrying about the things I don’t yet have.

By choosing to say thank you I take victory over the indulgence of delaying my day and the contributions I need to make.

After I kiss my wife the very next thing I do is read the Bible. I’ve determined that if I want a life full of God’s blessing then I need to sow his words into the deep fabric of my soul.

By choosing to read the Bible instead of an email, a text message, or a tweet, I take victory over making God the first priority in my life.

Next I will read my affirmations. It might seem silly to some but to me what could be more valuable than articulating specifically and intentionally exactly the kind of man I hope to become?

By choosing to read my affirmations I take victory over the mediocre man that I was yesterday and I make the decision to become something greater today.

After that I will read a combination of either my wife’s goals, our Southwestern Consulting Creed, or our Partners Pact.

By choosing to review the goals that have been set out by the people closest to me, I take victory over focusing on helping others achieve their goals in life rather than the dangerous risk of being entirely self-centered on my own.

A review of my goals and the things that I want in my life naturally is next. However the over arching prayer is not that they would come true but “thy will be done.”

By reviewing my dreams and by choosing to trust in God’s plan, I take victory over focusing my life rather than giving into the indulgences I may feel like doing today. And I also make the commitment of faith to trust that whatever happens it will be a part of a plan that is bigger what I understand.

Now it is time to do something physical. Regardless of how much time I may or may not have I must do something that strengthens my body.

In doing so I take victory over the fact that my mind will tell my body what to do and not the other way around – I will admit that this one doesn’t always happen. It is a growth area for me.

And finally, the last thing that I do is make the time to read and to keep myself educated on the principles of personal development and success. Because I know that I am not equipped with all of the knowledge that I need to accomplish the purposes that my life was created for.

By investing in myself I take victory over the opportunity to become complacent and re-dedicate myself to doing something that is greater today than I did yesterday.

These are habits that I have learned from many great people who came before me and if there is any secret that I have to doing any of the things that I have done in my life it certainly includes this list.

Unfortunately the fact that I have done this many times before makes little difference. All that matters now is that I must do it again tomorrow.

The rent is due.