Back in December, 2016, I wrote the article “How Small Business Owners Start Their Mornings,” where I discussed successful business management, and the importance of keeping a schedule that’s based on tackling your least desirable tasks first. It’s one of those “commonsense” pieces that most readers feel they already know the value of the message, but never seem to implement the strategy into their daily lives.
Whatever your reason might be for not “Eating your vegetables first,” I thought I’d share with you a couple of examples of how a vegetable-first mindset can drastically impact your business.
Years ago I was working with a commercial printer, who was doing about $16 million a year, at the height of his success. By the time I met him, his sales had slumped to $12 million, and profits were continuing to drop. The writing was on the wall that change was desperately needed within his organization.
The most obvious area of focus was the way he was managing his sales team and customer service representatives. For years they were his only point of contact between him and his customers, inadvertently allowing them to take him hostage in his own office. He had found himself powerless, and unable to control his team.
Throughout the business consultation, I expressed the need for him to be more confrontational with his staff, lay down the law, and get everyone to sign non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. On his list of “To-dos” these focus areas went, and there they stayed as profits continued to plummet.
Over the course of our seven to eight month engagement, I would remind him of the importance of accomplishing these tasks, and whether it was his insecurity or lack of leadership, he couldn’t bring himself to do the work. What started as a simple to-do list, had grown out of control, and ultimately cost him his business.
On the flip-side, I worked with a distributor in New England who was generating $9 million per-year in revenue, and he too was seeing profits on the sharp decline. After determining that he was struggling with nearly identical issues to those of the commercial printer, particularly regarding the management of his staff, I gave him a set of tasks, and recommended that he start “eating his vegetables first.”
To my surprise, he took the concept and ran with it! Every night he would write out his challenges and goals for the day to follow, with a sharp focus on putting the hardest, most emotionally draining tasks at the top of his list.
If he knew he had a particularly difficult hurdle to deal with, perhaps the termination of an employee, then he would make it a point to come into the office earlier that morning, to get his mind in the game, and prepare for the confrontation.
He had gone from a decent manager whom everyone respected moderately, to a leader who was respected for running a tight ship with an iron fist.
A vegetable-first mindset means dedicating yourself to self-improvement. It means focusing on the tasks at hand, and driving greater results through organization and uncompromising determination.