This is not about marketing.

If you own a business or are simply passionate about your career you most likely spend a lot of non-work hours thinking about it.  Sometimes I miss the days when I had a 9-5 job and once I clocked out for the day it was over and I was free to frolic in the blissful 7 hours of responsibilities that didn’t affect my paycheck.  But, if you are like me, then you know that at the end of the day you would never go back to something you weren’t passionate about. There is tremendous satisfaction from building a business or growing your career that you can’t get from anything else.   Whenever you develop a new product or service or make a sale it’s electrifying and you want more.  You want your business to offer the best service or product, you want to grow a culture that your employees love to be a part of, you want to have that 5 star google rating from 100 different happy customers, and you know all of that takes a lot of time, work, and creativity.  But it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  At the start of 2016 I want to give you some encouragement and some tips to help your business be the best it can be.  Like I said before, this is not about marketing.  It’s about creating a business that is worth marketing…

Listen to experts.

One thing that I have started doing again more aggressively is listening to podcasts.  If you don’t have a lot of time to read books, or if you are like me and fall asleep a few pages in, then podcasts are a great way to stay abreast of new developments in your industry.  No matter what your business is, there is most likely a podcast that can help you.  Even if you can’t find something that is specific to your industry then find one that deals with things you use within your business such as technology, marketing, finance, or sales.  Find one or two and listen to a podcast for at least an hour a week.  You can do this at the gym, in the car, or even while you are cleaning the house.  Surrounding yourself with new ideas helps kick start the creativity and grows your leadership potential in ways that are essential to push your business forward.

Prioritize sleep.

I am absolutely horrible at this.  However, when I do this it pays off.  While staying up half the night working on a new project is easy to do, it always kicks your butt the next day when you are drinking coffee by the barrel to make it through that 2 hour meeting.  And with new studies showing that a lack of sleep contributes to dementia and other health problems it’s not only unnatural, it’s downright stupid.

In fact, Neuroscientist Russell Foster thinks we’re being “supremely arrogant” by ignoring the importance of sleep. He told BBC, “We feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle. What we do as a species, perhaps uniquely, is override the clock. And long-term acting against the clock can lead to serious health problems.”

While the number of hours of sleep you need varies from person to person, most adults need a solid seven to eight hours per night. This year, include getting that seven or eight hours of sleep in as much as a way of getting healthier, happier, and more productive at work. And when you do have an inevitable sleepless night or two, build in recovery time to help make up your sleep debt.

Listen to your team.

If you happen to be the founder of your business then the next time you are meeting with your staff remember that you are not the boss because you are the smartest one in the room.  And trust me… you don’t want to be.  Do you really want all your employees to be dumber than you?  You are in the position you are in often times simply because you were the first to have the idea that propelled the creation of your business.  If you are the smartest person in that room then you are doing it wrong.  Develop your team so that you are surrounded by people who are smarter and quite possibly have more potential than you.  Listen to them.  They have ideas and critiques and stories that can help make your business better.  If you don’t have a regularly scheduled staff meeting… create one. Make this a place where you can discuss things other than the bottom line.

Encourage people to voice their concern about a new idea.  When there is a safe environment for everyone to have a voice, your team will likely get behind an idea even if they have some issues with it.  A book that I stumbled upon a long time ago that revolutionized the way I thought about team work is Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  In it Lencioni describes 5 things that need to be present in a team for it to accomplish a mission.  Two of these foundational elements are trust and conflict.  Trust seems pretty obvious.  Developing a culture where team members trust each other and feel safe making themselves vulnerable in a discussion with each other is a no-brainer.  Conflict however is a little less intuitive. Within a context of trust, meaningful, substantive conflict, allows your team to bring up issues that might be unpopular but need to be addressed for a project to really work.  Create a culture where your team can talk and by all means listen to them.  Because if you formed your team well then they will have a perspective that you don’t.

Invest in better measurement.

Ok – so here is one about marketing but it’s about a whole lot more as well.  Whether you are talking about measuring your marketing efforts or measuring the efficiency of a new inventory system, one thing is certain:  if you don’t measure it you will never know if it is working better or not at all.  If you are going to spend money on anything that is supposed to get you better results, then by all means measure the results!  Sometimes it takes some creativity to figure out how to implement a tracking system, and sometimes it takes a little money.  If you are looking for ways to measure your marketing then let’s talk.  We love to track and measure the things we do.  It helps us be better marketers and it helps you make more money.

We hope 2016 is an amazing year for you and your business!

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