Contrary to popular opinion, knowledge is not power. Execution is power. The diet and fitness field offers a good example. Most people know how to get in better shape – eat better and exercise more. But they don’t execute on that information.

Most small businesses could increase revenue dramatically just by putting information they already know to work.

Here are seven ways to stop “thinking about it” and start executing.Set Goals and Track Success

  1. Write down your plan: A plan in your head isn’t a real plan. Writing it down lets you make at least some of your mistakes on paper, says Brian Moran, founder and CEO of The Execution Company and author of the New York Times bestseller The 12 Week Year.  Other things will get in the way. That’s a given. A written plan makes it real and forces you to think through potential pitfalls up front. Once you have the high-level plan, then start to set weekly plans to make it all happen. Weekly plans include your strategies, priorities, long- and short-term tasks, and time commitments. This will keep you focused on the parts of your plan that need to happen each week in order to stay on track. 
  2. Focus on gain over pain: The critical first step to executing well is creating a vision of your desired future that’s more desirable than your own short-term comfort. To execute on big goals you may need to work through some fear, uncertainty and discomfort. Review your goals – the “gain” you seek – regularly and share them with others. This will increase your commitment.
  3. Show commitment, not just interest: If you are only “interested” in doing something, you tend to do it only when time allows or circumstances permit. But when you’re committed to something, there are no excuses and all you want is results.
  4. Set deadlines to instill urgency: The annual cycle of execution that many businesses embrace lulls people into a false sense of security that there’s “plenty of time” to get things done. A sense of urgency only happens as the deadline gets close. What you need is a series of both short- and long-term deadlines to keep the urgency going. If you set deadlines for every 12 weeks rather than every 12 months, you keep the excitement, energy and focus happening all year long.
  5. Set tactics for each goal: Tactics are the things that you do, day-to-day, to drive attainment of your goals. Your plan should start by identifying your overall goals for a 12-week period. Then you need to determine the tactics you’ll need to meet each of those goals. Break each goal down into its individual parts. For example, if your goal is to generate another 100 customers and $100,000 in revenue, write down separate tactics for gaining customers and increasing revenue. Each tactic should be specific, actionable and include due dates and assignment responsibilities.
  6. Track results AND efforts: Measuring results is important. But it’s also important to measure “effort” – defined as your level of execution. Keep in mind that you have greater control over your effort (your actions) than you do over your results. But your results are created by your actions. To measure your execution, track how you follow through on each of the week’s tactics. This lets you pinpoint breakdowns and respond quickly with changes. And unlike results that can lag for weeks, months or even longer behind your actions, measuring execution offers more immediate feedback.
  7. Block your time: Planning around 12-week blocks – or sprints – helps you spend time with greater focus and intention. You can also block each day into three basic parts – strategic blocks, buffer blocks and breakout blocks. A strategic block is uninterrupted time scheduled into each week – no calls, emails, visitors or meetings. This is when you concentrate exclusively on executing your plan. During buffer blocks you deal with unplanned and low-value activities, while breakout blocks provide time to rest and rejuvenate.  

 

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