At the beginning of 2012 I was overweight, not by much, about 35 lbs. So I decided that it was the year that I lost weight and became healthier. By the end of that year I lost 15 lbs and thus still overweight.
I reviewed my program and implemented some new processes to help me, and by the end of March (within three months) I lost the final 20 lbs that I needed, and currently maintaining that weight.
This experience has taught me a few things that can be used by businesses to improve and help them reach their goals. Here are some of the lessons I learned.
1. Measuring progress is critical.
You can decide that you are going to lose weight by eating less and exercising more, but by how much of each do you mean? You need to note how many calories you intake by eating and expend by exercise, otherwise you are just making wild guesses and will not go far. Yes, you might lose weight, but not nearly as much as if you were accounting for those calories.
The same with business; if you decide on making certain changes, ensure that you determine how much you are going to change it by and then measure those changes as you go along.
2. What you measure is important.
Most people trying to lose weight look at only one measurement: how much weight they lose. The problem with that is that you cannot directly control your weight loss. You cannot will yourself to lose 10lbs. But you can control other things that your weight depends on – namely how many calories you eat and how much you burn by exercise. By looking primarily at those figures, you will start to see results. You will still look at your weight, but only as a secondary measure to determine if you are on the right track.
It is the same with business. You cannot will more profits, but you can control things like how much you spend on services or other expenses, and how many customers you speak to on a daily basis. By keeping track of those activities that you can directly control, you will have the type of profits you want.
3. The right activities matter.
When I first tried to lose weight I was doing a lot of cardio exercises and not merely eating as well as I should have. What I later learned is that I needed to improve my diet and include more weight training exercises and less cardio. With that my weight loss was far more dramatic.
What activities are your business following that may be outdated or just plain wrong? Read up on new and emerging business management research. Just like health, new findings may render the ways you thought you should follow as unbeneficial.
4. Be consistent.
We are hardwired for instant gratification, and we would often keep changing tactics when we don’t see results soon enough. I was doing a little of this, and when I didn’t get results I did a little of that. Exercised one week, dieted the next, then exercised two weeks later. As expected, I didn’t lose much during that time. Then I set a consistent routine of diet and exercise, which had a significant impact.
In your business, you can’t try one thing, then another and another without any type of structure and expect to see the results you want. Do your research, choose your method, give it serious effort and after some time determine if it’s been working or whether you need to improve it or change it altogether.
5. Determine your motivation.
Just wanting something is not enough! You must have a very good reason for wanting something, which resonates to cause real change. I wanted to lose weight, but it was not until I had a real reason that I got serious and lost most of my weight.
What is your reason for wanting to improve and grow your business? You might be motivated, but do you employees feel the same? You must have a reason that resonates with them as well; a rallying cry that everyone can agree with and want just as badly. Find that out and you will be unstoppable.
6. Sometimes you need help.
I got a lot of help in order to lose weight. I did research on the internet, read books, joined online forums and, one that really helped me, a mobile app for my phone. That app helped me keep track of my meals, exercise and weight and also gave me lots of excellent tips.
What help does your business need? Do you need information, support or tools? Ensure that you get the help you need to achieve the goals you want.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
There is a saying that weight loss is a marathon and not a sprint, which is to say, that it’s really a slow and steady effort to get where you’re going, otherwise you can burn out and never reach there. I understand that many businesses have shareholders and investors to report to, but you must also decide if you want a company that will last. While I know that nothing is guaranteed in business, continuous improvement is a proven way to keep a business going and growing.
May your hard work pay off, whether it’s in business or losing weight.