Focus and Shoot

One of my earliest childhood memories is watching Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) win his third Most Outstanding Player award while leading UCLA to its third straight NCAA title in 1969. Of course, March Madness? is now ingrained in our sports psyche. From the unveiling of the brackets in mid-March, to the playing of "One Shining Moment" celebrating a new national champion, the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship captures our nation's attention.

Each year, the Men's Basketball Committee ranks the tournament teams on an S-Curve. The top #1 seed sits at the upper right on the "S" and the 65th rests at the bottom left, with the remaining 63 teams listed in order between them. In your industry, it might be possible to rank businesses in a similar way, and, much like players shooting free throws in the NCAA tournament, everyone on the S-Curve would have the opportunity to achieve better results by focusing on the keys to their success.

Success Handler Action: Spend a few moments thinking about your small business. In your industry, where do you rank on the S-Curve? Are you near the upper right with top performers, somewhere in the middle, or falling toward the bottom left? Now, think about the reasons you placed yourself in that position. Here are some questions to consider:

~ Do you have the personnel to make you a "top seed"?

~ Do you have the equipment to be among the best at what you do?

~ Are you coaching employees to ensure you get the most out of their talent?

~ How do your customers view your small business? Are you ranked among the elite?

~ What will it take for you to move higher up on the S-Curve?

One of the small business leaders we coach has an outstanding team, a strong product in a growth industry and a solid marketing approach. Yet, like many business owners, he is not achieving the results he expects. Put in sports terms, they have a good game plan, but their execution is coming up short.

We are currently helping them implement a strategy to reach outside their comfort level ? to think beyond what worked before and to more closely focus on what is needed today. We are also working to focus their efforts beyond the walls of their location ? to get out and spend more time with their customers and prospects.

Success Handler Action: What is it that's keeping you from reaching your goals? Is it fear of change? Lack of resources? Fatigue? Here are six steps to give your team the mindset of a winner:

1. Call some business acquaintances and ask how they motivate their employees

2. Read (or re-read) Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"

3. Get your business plan out of the drawer and update it (think like a coach: X's and O's)

4. Candidly discuss your situation with your financial advisor

5. Take your employees out for a celebration; the best teams bond together off the field

6. Get to work one hour earlier the next two weeks and work on your business, not in it

All teams begin their seasons with the same record and same goal. The one that cuts down the net at the end worked together better than everyone else. While big state schools tend to win the most championships, smaller ones celebrate success every year in the NCAA tournament. Whether you're the biggest in your industry or the smallest, the oldest or the newest, there is opportunity to renew focus on your business and shoot your way up the S-Curve. Begin thinking and preparing like a champion, and you will achieve surprising results, much like those Cinderella Stories.

Copyright 2004 by Success Handler, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (, and specializes in helping small business leaders find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there ? as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.

In The News:

pen paper and inkwell

cat break through

Change Behaviors, Change Performance

Every organization is looking for the holy grail of performance... Read More

Contract Management Software: the Solution to the Problem of Coordination

Charles Petrie, from Stanford, released a short article entitled "The... Read More

Success at Work : People Skills : Dealing with New Ideas

Re-organizing, re-engineering, re-training, down-sizing, outsourcing, changing-changing-changing. Organizations today think they... Read More

One Bad Apple

One Bad Apple I know what... Read More

When Change Is In the Wind...Heads Up!

In these days of takeovers and mergers, of downsizings and... Read More

Avoid These Seven Deadly Dangers Of Outsourcing

Here are seven dangers of outsourcing your software development. They... Read More

A Corporate Facelift With Sound Bytes

If Baby Boomers can get botox and tummy tucks, then... Read More

Employee Motivation - Access Their Unique Talents

Your people are invaluable to you. They are the lifeblood... Read More

Meeting Your Meeting Expectations

"To get something done a meeting should consist of no... Read More

Ten Secrets of Super Successful Meeting Planners

Whoever said that being a meeting planner was easy, lied!... Read More

Communicating When A Crisis Strikes

How would you handle communication if your business or practice... Read More

Solving the Problem Solving Problem

The meeting started like a hundred others before. There were... Read More

7 Essential Elements To Every Organizational Change

[This article is based on excerpts from the special report... Read More

Creativity and Innovation - Large Firms Versus Small Firms

There is a pervasive assumption that small firms are more... Read More

Five Essential Hiring Practices

Recruiting and hiring are often done in haste, leaving the... Read More

Technology & Communication

A study a couple of years ago found that 63%... Read More

Two Critical Success Factors in an ITIL Implementation

Any IT manager who wants to pursue the IT Service... Read More

Do Customers Like the Feel of Your Organization?

In two recent articles "Some Evidence of How We Are... Read More

How To Hire Superstars

Can a person's behavior and values really determine if they... Read More

Problem-Solving Success Tip: Look For Sponsors And Solution Owners

Look for sponsors and solution owners rather than problem owners.Everyone... Read More

The ?Better Product? fallacy

Another fallacy ingrained in the minds of most marketing managers... Read More

The Cheapest, Forget It !

Wouldn't it be great if we got get the cheapest... Read More

Reprimanding Marginal Employees

THE MARGINAL PERFORMER: Every manager must, from time to time,... Read More

Management Development - Micromanagement Works!

Getting into the detail of everything each of your people... Read More

Avoiding The Sheep Dip

It is a sad fact that many employees are still... Read More

Organizational Culture and Creative Blocks ? the Similarities

Few Decision makers see the link between between creativity and... Read More

Climb out of the Box - How to Hold Effective Meetings

Out of the box thinking is a popular fad today.... Read More

The Myth of the Management Team

Every business has problems. That is why the average life... Read More

The 10 Realities of Change

I've seen several articles that begin with lines like "the... Read More

IT Expenditure - Why Businesses Spend Huge Amounts on Ineffective IT Investments

Another IT White Elephant!It seems that almost every day we... Read More

Managing Rebellious Employees

Surveys of executives reveal that many companies fall short of... Read More

Assessing Managers for International Competence

How do you select staff for international assignments? It's an... Read More

What is Knowledge Management Anyway?

When you think of all the things companies have, you... Read More