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The fastest way to get ahead in any situation is simply to outperform your competition.

Many people mistakenly believe the way to do this is to embrace the latest trends in techniques and technology. Not so. Most techniques have no direct impact on superior performance and many people do not know or take the time to learn how to use technology to maximum advantage.

What does make an absolute difference in your outcomes is the mastery of business management basics. (Coincidently, that’s what SMARTSTART is about.)

If you are committed to achieving success, you must consistently excel at 4 primary self-management practices:

  1. strategy
  2. implementation
  3. accountability and
  4. predictability

Additionally, you must master any 2 of the following 4 secondary practices:

  1. talent
  2. initiative/leadership
  3. innovation and
  4. influence

Regarding the four mandatory self-management practices, the general recommendations are:

  1. Strategy – Design your success strategy based on what you know about your capabilities, strengths, passions and interests. Revise it only in response to key changes in your personal priorities. (Yes, our needs and desires do change as we age and grow! And our changing priorities dictate how our business evolves.)
  2. Implementation – Put your greatest effort into the highest value/highest return actions. Drop low end tasks. Believe me, no one will notice this but you. Streamline everything you do that is essential to consistently meeting (not exceeding) expectations (yours and anyone you do business with). Let no effort be wasted! Efficiency rules.
  3. Accountability – Hold yourself accountable to unyielding performance standards and expectations. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you how you are doing (it might never happen). Reward yourself when you meet targets. Withhold rewards when you miss them. Make sure you know what your professional values and ethics are. Uphold them.
  4. Predictability – Look at your approach to running your business and find every way possible to simplify it and reduce any associated bureaucracy and redundancy. Be dependable. Pursue excellence, rather than chasing fame and glory. Be a role model for content sharing, professionalism, reliability and inventiveness.Your past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour so make sure yours speaks well of you at all times. This greatly reduces tension and anxiety for those touched by and participating in your business and you will be immeasurably rewarded for making their experience with you so much easier and enjoyable.

For the secondary self-management practices, choose any 2 of the following 4 that are easiest for you to master, then concentrate on building your reputation and recognition in those areas:

  1. Talent – Go deep in developing your talent. Make an ongoing investment in your professional development. Accept challenging and intriguing projects that take you out of your comfort zone. And don’t overlook opportunities to help others by giving them a “hand up” rather than a “handout”. Work to become the “go to” person who is top of mind in your industry or area of expertise.
  2. Initiative/Leadership – Reach out and build connections with people at all levels, inside and outside of your primary business arena. Build your reputation by earning recognition as a leading expert in your field of expertise or industry. Never boast about your progress in this regard — seriously, no humblebrags in social media! Instead, let people discover the name you’ve made for yourself. If you’re doing it right, people will talk about you without your having to ask. Use tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to help others and promote their work. Don’t wait for people to come to you with opportunities and requests.
  3. Innovation – Watch for and act on opportunities to introduce new ways of doing things. But before presenting your ideas, make sure you’ve looked at all the angles, considered the cultural and emotional climate and assessed the timing of the proposed change. Many good ideas are lost to bad timing or because they haven’t been completely thought through.You’re not looking for big breakthroughs necessarily; steady improvement on processes everyone else takes for granted will gain you just as much in the long run. You don’t need to invent; always improve.
  4. Influence – Leverage your ever-growing networks to complement your strengths and build support for your ideas and innovations. Develop a systematic way of identifying and growing opportunities to exert influence on how things are being done. Vanity metrics do not always accurately reflect positions of power. Those with the greatest power are the people who influence the ongoing behaviour and attitudes of those they reach. Your ultimate goal is to become one of them.

I admit, this formula looks simple on paper. In reality, it takes commitment and discipline to apply it on a daily basis. However, results and satisfaction are just two of the rewards you can expect for putting it to work in your business.