Make Your Strategy a Habit

How to keep the ball rolling and rolling and rolling....

Make Your Strategy a Habit

#3

Early success doesn’t come from how smart your strategy is; what moat or wedge you have, or how you can use the 5 forces to your advantage. These are important, but mostly after you get past $10M.

Before you get to all that, you have to figure out how to consistently execute.

Here’s the strategy I use to be consistent, that you can use too.

Turn your strategy into a habit.

The Simple Strategy.

Turn your business strategy into a habit.

Define the cue, action and reward that will enable you to consistently execute it.

-Nate

A story

In his book “Atomic Habits” author James Clear tells one of my favorite stories about business habits.

“In 1993, a bank in Abbotsford, Canada, hired a twenty-three-year-old stockbroker named Trent Dyrsmid. Abbotsford was a relatively small suburb, tucked away in the shadow of nearby Vancouver, where most of the big business deals were being made. Given the location, and the fact that Dyrsmid was a rookie, nobody expected too much of him. But he made brisk progress thanks to a simple daily habit.

Dyrsmid began each morning with two jars on his desk. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. As soon as he settled in each day, he would make a sales call. Immediately after, he would move one paper clip from the full jar to the empty jar and the process would begin again. “Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialing the phone until I had moved them all to the second jar,” he told me.

Within eighteen months, Dyrsmid was bringing in $5 million to the firm. By age twenty-four, he was making $75,000 per year—the equivalent of $125,000 today.”

It’s so simple. Almost too simple…. How can this work?

The strategy, explained

First, it’s helpful to understand habits.

Habits are small daily decisions and the actions that follow them. They’re consistent patterns of behavior that allow our brains to conserve calories and not think, just do.

When was the last time you had to think about tying your shoes? If you’re my 5 year old, it was this morning, But otherwise it’s probably been years. You don’t need to think to tie your shoes anymore, you just do.

A habit has four stages. My getting morning cup of coffee is a great illustrator.

from James Clear’s Atomic Habits.

  • Cue - That tired burny-blinky-eyes feeling.

  • Craving - To feel awake and not tired.

  • Response - Pour a cup of coffee

  • Reward - Taking the first sip.

The cue leads into the craving to complete the action, which is followed by the action and ends in a reward. That first sip of coffee is always worth it.

my daughter waiting for her morning brew

Trent Dyrsmid realized that the number of calls drove his results. In outbound sales (where you cold-call or email people) volume is a major driver of success. You have to get lots of volume.

So he set a cue with his full and empty cup, craved the reward of moving a paper clip across, responded by dialing the call and then rewarded his progress by moving the paper clip.

He took a strategy of “make more calls” and turned it into a habit!

Making this work for you

Trent’s story is so simple we’re tempted to think it won’t work. It’s almost too simple. But what would your business look like if you consistently did the things you wanted to? I know mine would look a little different.

We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

-Aristotle.

So, how can we turn our business strategy into a habit? Here are three things you can do today.

  1. Shorten your strategy - Dominos Pizza, grew from a single store in 1969 to opening 3 stores a day in the late 1980s. For many years, the strategy used by founder Tom Monaghan was “handle the rush”. Most pizza orders came around dinner time, so if you could handle the rush of orders, you could grow. If they could find a way to make pizza faster or get it there quicker, they did it.

    1. That strategy is only 3 words. Shorten your strategy so that you don’t forget it and you can easily talk about it with your teammates!

  2. Set A Calendar Cue - I used to work out inconsistently. I wanted to work out more, but something always happened and I would miss it. Once I started putting “gym” on my calendar, and I started going more often. Wild.

  3. Immediately Reward the Action - This can feel like the silliest part of creating a new habit, but you want to immediately reward the action, not the outcome, so that you start to crave the reward. Notice that Trent didn’t move a paper clip when he completed a sale, he moved it when he completed a call. I like to reward actions by

    • Crossing off a to-do list item

    • putting a sticker on a chart (my kids have a sticker chart, I have a sticker chart)

    • making a pour over coffee

These are things that work for me. You’ll find your own ways. Whatever you can do to make your strategy into a daily habit is going to be a long term win for you.

I want you to make that habit, cause I want you to win!

A question to apply the strategy

You know your business grows when you do a few things well.

What is one thing you can do more consistently? How can you make this action into a daily habit?

Open a note and write down the action, then pick a cue, craving and reward.

The End.

Turning your strategy into a habit is a great way to help get the most important work done consistently.

Make it simple, do the work.

The Simple Strategy.

Turn your business strategy into a habit.

Define the cue, action and reward that will enable you to consistently execute it.

-Nate

Catch you next week!

-Nate

Whenever you’re ready, I help bootstrapped entrepreneurs increase their profit in two ways.

  1. Boost your business with a tailored 1-hour strategy session, 1-on-1 with me. These are best for businesses in the launch stage, usually under $200k in revenue. It’s amazing how much we can get done in an hour.

    Book your call here!

  2. Elevate your profits with our structured 3-month program, focusing on foundational growth, strategic direction, and actionable plans. A cross between coaching and consulting, it includes 12 coaching calls, 2 major deliverables; a financial analysis and a strategic plan that you can actually use. These are best for more complicated businesses that are scaling, usually between $200k and $1.5M.

    Book a call here!

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