Do you remember when you were a child and you had a bath rather than a shower? When you let the water out of the bath there was a residue, a ring of dirt left on the surface of the bath? If you didn’t clean it off straight away it was really hard to remove. There was a slightly abrasive paste you could buy (I looked it up online and it is still actually available in Australia) which with the addition of some elbow grease left your bath spotless again. I know about this because I had a mother who taught me that inaction has consequences the same as actions do. So remembering this slightly gritty product got me thinking.
The word gumption has a lot of meanings: Shrewdness, Practicality, Resourcefulness, Presence of mind, Common sense. If we were to apply all of those to a business proposition it seems reasonable that you might expect to get some serious traction in whatever direction you are driving your business, towards whatever goal you might have set.
Starting and running a business takes Guts. There are a lot of days when it is just that grit, that gumption and determination that gets you past the adversity you face. But it requires using your common sense your ability to be resourceful, to approach a problem in an innovative way that makes the difference between a quick and efficient resolution of a problem and a long drawn out and generally unsatisfactory outcome.
Every business at the start, feels like you are climbing an icy hill. For every step you take forward you are still sliding backward at least a bit. What stops the slide is a little grit to help you to dig in. If you were physically climbing a hill you would be looking at two things: The first is your destination. You would be focused on looking at where you want to get to. The second is to make sure your footing was sound, gritted so you continue your progress forward, slipping back the minimum possible.
In business what happens all too often is we stay focused on our footing with the head down, just doing the daily grind (the nitty gritty stuff if you like) and we lose sight of the goal, the destination. That’s why writing down your goals is so important. It causes you to lift your head up and look around and regain your focus. Putting you target on a whiteboard or poster literally ‘In your face’ helps you achieve. Having something to focus on keeps you moving up the hill instead of just staying put. Sometimes you need to spread a little grit to ensure you stay on the right track.
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. PEOPLE WHO AIM AT NOTHING INVARIABLY HIT IT.
A business without a goal is like climbing a mountain without ever looking at the peak. I recommend three sets of three goals for your business:
Personal: What should the business provide for you over the next 3 months, a year, 3 years?
Financial: How much money should the business turn over, make in profit and have in reserve against a rainy day over each of those periods.
Customer Satisfaction: How many customers (or what proportion of a large customer base) should be raving fans talking about your business and recommending what you do after each of those periods AND how will you find out and measure it?
Again it takes guts and gumption to look at these things and measure your success or not against these hard targets. But if you don’t measure you can’t manage and you succeed or you learn that’s all.
One last thing: I learned never to put off cleaning the bath after me so I didn’t need the gumption with its slightly gritty formula. Every time I consider procrastinating something I remember the gumption and use it to overcome the resistance in me. What did you put off doing today that might get you one step closer to your goal?