The first day of the first month of the new year used to remind me of failed resolutions. For years, I felt like I was accomplishing something by writing my good intentions in black and white. But then the “doing” part loomed large. Small business author and consultant Vicky Fraser summed it up best in a recent email from Jan 3:
“What most people don't realize is our brains are deceitful, manipulative junkies: they get off on making grand declarations and resolutions. They get excited about big plans and dreams... but doing the actual work? They hate that. So they take their endorphin rushes where they can get them (at the grand declaration stage) then disappear into the big blue when it's time to step up, like the good little addicts they are.
To achieve what you want to achieve, you have to fight that junkie brain viciously.
That's what my brain is like. And it's what your brain is like.”
Amen to that.
Recent New Years are different. Now the first day of the year reminds me of one trick to fight “junkie brain” that has saved me from resolutions forever. For me the secret to achieving personal and business growth lies in the power of the number one.
“One” does two things for me. First, it makes everything manageable. No longer is there an overwhelming list. One of almost anything is easy to handle. You’ll see why in a minute.
Two, I still get my endorphin fix. I can always accomplish one important thing in a day and when I do, I feel pretty good about it. Nor does it need to be a big thing.
I use the power of “one” to help my business in two ways; it either helps me get more done, or it helps me avoid big mistakes. Here are some examples to illustrate.
I started my first small business with my own money and a lot of credit, based on the promises of one customer to deliver a certain amount of business. You can guess the rest. Little to no business from said customer and lots of scrambling to get more customers. In short, 1 big, bad move = 1 bankruptcy. The lesson: never rely primarily on one major customer, or worse yet, the promise of one.
1 Marketing Tactic
Think no further than advertising via fax or telemarketing. Years ago, if fax advertising had been your only form of lead generation, your leads would have dried up the day that cold faxing became illegal. If newspaper advertising is your only source of leads and customers, what are you going to do if it goes belly up?
The lesson: Never rely on one media or one marketing tactic to get customers. Always use multiple tactics. There are two reasons for this. (Funny how “one” always leads to more.) First, customers may have different preferences for communicating with you. If it’s email and all you have is their phone number, then you lose. The other reason is that media can disappear via technology advances or be regulated out of useful existence.
In the early days of our first website, we used the defunct Google Video. One day I discovered black holes on our site where all the videos used to be. Without notification to any users they had shut down their service and all our product demonstration videos were no longer available on Google’s servers.
After a freak-out, we got everything uploaded to Youtube. Then to be safe, I also added all our videos to Vimeo. Now if one of them were to disappear, we’d be up and running quickly.
There are two lessons in this. (There…two from one again.) First, always have a backup plan. Second, use extra caution when a vendor’s service is free. If the service is free, the vendor is doing whatever they want to do, on their terms, for their reasons, and they can pull the plug whenever they like. Yes, it can happen with paid vendors too. But there are usually more specific terms and avenues of redress when money changes hands.
1 Sales Letter
One letter is a good start but if you only send out one letter, you lose. Use a direct mail sequence. If you’re using a sales letter of any kind, mail or email it at least twice. Yes, you can use the exact same letter twice and you stand to increase your sales substantially. You can read more about direct mail sequences here.
1 Information Storage Location
If you’ve ever had a computer crash without backup, you already know this lesson. There should always be offsite backup of all your important digital assets.
It’s easy to get distracted by multiple tasks. Determine the one most important money-making thing you should do today and get it done. Then move on to the next. Forget multi-tasking.
1 More Thing
I read a Hubspot article that said companies that blogged 16x per month get 3.5 times the traffic of companies that blog 0-4 times per month. I was used to blogging about 4x a month, but 16x a month seems overwhelming for me as the sole author.
However, the thought of doing just one more post a week seems manageable. So that’s what I aimed for and that’s what I’m getting—one more post a week. I’m still not at 16x a month, but now I am over half way there instead of being stuck on overwhelm at ¼ the way there.
1 More Idea
Keep an idea list. I try to write down every idea before it slips through my brain. Sometimes ideas become blog articles. Sometimes a sales letter. Sometimes a landing page or a lead generation campaign. Sometimes they get ignored or thrown out. Sometimes one idea mates with another idea to make a new and better idea.
The lesson: as long as I keep the ideas flowing, one at a time, I don’t run out of stuff to work with.
1 Day at a Time
When I figure out the most important thing to work on today, I get one step closer to where I want to be tomorrow. I make plans, but I don’t spend time and energy worrying about tomorrow. Work on the one thing, one idea, one task, that you selected and give it your all.
Still not convinced about the power of “one” to move mountains? Then consider binary arithmetic, consisting entirely of “1” and “0” and the basis for all computers in the world. It’s what brings these words and pictures to you and thousands of others around the world.
Ok, now I’ve got to go write one more article.
In the meantime, if you'd like 17 chances to find one more thing that can make a big difference in your business growth, check out the Secrets of Business Success book below.