The importance of quick wins
You can also hear this article as a podcast
When we think about how our business is going to become successful, we think that it’s going to be the result of something big happening. Like crossing a finishing line, your company will continue along until you get that big client, until you meet that investor or until you get picked out of obscurity by that big retailer. But it rarely happens like that. Success in business is usually the result of lots of little progressions. Yes, you will have some of those ‘big wins’ but the biggest changes in your business will come as the cumulative result of lots of small wins. There’s even a recognised business term for this, it’s called incremental continuous improvement. This is where you make lots of small improvements to your business or your product, none of them a breakthrough on its own, but each inching you closer towards your end goal. The same process is used in sport, where athletes are not looking at how they can get 50% better, they are constantly looking for those improvements that will make their performance just 1% better. They know that if they constantly bring those 1% improvements into their training, all those one per-cents, all those marginal gains, will eventually lead them to be the fastest, strongest or best in the world.
But the reason that making quick wins in your business is important is not just the cumulative benefit from lots of little progressions, but the momentum that each one gives you. Building a business is hard. Most people quit before they find success because they completely underestimate how long it’s going to take to get a business off the ground. No matter how well or even how slowly your business is growing, one of the most important parts of that growth is creating momentum and motivation. And you might say that motivation is one of your biggest problems, that you listen to a podcast to get you motivated, or you go to a conference, or you read a book, and that motivation is great for a day or two but it just doesn’t last. Well, neither does taking a shower – which is why you need to do it daily!
Track your wins to see the progress you are making
Like business, losing weight or getting fit can be hard – but at what point are you the most motivated? When you see those first results, when you lose that first couple of kilograms. You are at your most motivated, and your most confident, when you have just experienced some success. The easiest sale is the one that comes just after you’ve made a successful sale to someone else because that’s when you have the most confidence in yourself. So these small wins and little victories might not seem that big on their own, but just like the practice of ‘incremental continuous improvement’ that you might employ elsewhere, cumulatively, each win gives you the momentum you need to reach the next one.
So keep track of them. At the end of every day, write down what you have achieved – no matter how little those wins. Have you managed to answer that email that was sat in your inbox all week because you knew it was going to take a lot of time to deal with but it was important that you did? Celebrate the victory! Have you finally got your new packaging supplier sorted out? Realise that’s just moved your business forward! Did you manage to connect with someone today that might turn out to be a good contact for your company? File that away as a win too. It makes you feel that momentum, it makes you realise that you are moving forwards – and when you feel you are moving forwards, that’s what gives you the motivation to do more too.
But quick wins are not just a tool to create momentum and make the daily grind of business more bearable. Setting your own quick wins is a really easy way to move your business forward with a short burst of activity. Don’t just plan for the next six months, look at what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks. Or even ask what you can achieve in the next 24 hours!
For example, everyone knows that they are undercharging in their business. You know you could charge more for what you offer – in fact you’ve probably seen other people charging a lot more than you do but you’ve just never got around to looking at your pricing and you’re a bit daunted about the idea of changing it. But you don’t need to make it into this big thing. You can just put your price up by 10%, and you can probably do it before the end of the day. When we ran an agency, we had a policy that each time we won work, the next quote we did we put our prices up by 10%. We wanted to do this so that we could find out how much people were willing to pay, and the plan was we’d keep doing it until price became an obvious barrier to winning business. The thing is, it never became a barrier, we kept putting our prices up by 10% after every new project we won and in a year we were charging twice as much for our services as we had 12 months ago. Those small, quick changes over time massively increased our revenue.
How long would it take you to build a landing page with a single product on it and send it out to your mailing list? That's something you could probably get set up and have ready to go before you go to bed tonight.
Getting into a 'quick win' mentality
So look for what you can do in your business right now that will have a positive impact and can be achieved this week. Perhaps you’re waiting on getting your new website built, so that’s stopping you from marketing yourself. Well, how long would it take you to build a landing page with a single product on it and send it out to your mailing list? That’s something you could probably get set up and have ready to go before you go to bed tonight. You will have made significant activity happen, you will have done something that tangibly moves your business forward and might even get you a couple of new customers. You will have had a quick win. And that’s just one simple example. Put aside a few minutes and I guarantee that you will come up with half a dozen or so ‘quick wins’ that will have a positive impact on your business. You could put your prices up, you could put together a quick new offer or campaign and get it sent out before the end of the week, you could book a stall at that market or trade show, you could sign-up to that new bit of software that’s going to save you a load of admin time, you could reach out to those people who you have been wanting to connect with but you’ve just been waiting for the ‘right time’ to do it.
We put barriers in front of our own progress. We wait until we’ve designed a logo and got our website and business cards printed before we try to make our first sale. Why? Make your first sale first, and then when you’ve proven people want to buy what you are selling then spend the time and effort making a website and brand. Doing it the other way around is just a delaying tactic, it’s about not being confident. Quick wins can cut through all this.
So have a brainstorming session and get your team involved if you have one. What can you do, that you already have the skills and resources for, that will get you new customers in the next 24 to 48 hours? Can you design some flyers in Canva and get them printed next day and then put them through the letterboxes of all those big houses in that posh neighbourhood just down the road? Can you hire that student friend or family member who’s looking to earn a bit of extra cash to stand outside your shop this weekend and give out free samples to people passing by? Can you put an hour aside every evening this week to go through those hundreds of connections on LinkedIn that you have and really take a look at who they are? Send messages to the ones that you think you should get to know better and see if you can set up some one-to-ones with them. What’s going to give you a win quickly? Can you export a list of past customers who haven’t bought from you in the last six months and come up with a special offer to tempt them back? You could have that set-up and sent before you sit down to dinner!
We could keep going, but you get the idea. There are so many things that you could do right now, things that take almost no planning, that will give you a quick win right away.
Fighting the slump
So if you’re in a bit of a slump at the moment, if you seem to be endlessly waiting for other things to be finished before you can take the next step in growing your business, then take a step away from your longer-term plans and focus on doing something in just the next few days to move you forward. What can you do that’s going to bring some new enquiries and customers not in the next week, but tomorrow? What can you do that’s going to solve a problem that’s been a thorn in your side for ages? What can you do that’s going to improve the workplace for your employees? What can you do to get rid of that task that keeps draining your energy and positivity? And what can you do that will have been implemented and already giving you a result before you join us for next week’s article?!
A bullet point recap of what we’ve just covered in this article:
- We wait for big things to happen in our businesses – getting that big new client, getting that investment – but in reality, your business grows through a series of small steps that cumulatively lead to success.
- Athletes don’t look for changes in their technique that will make them 50% stronger or faster, they look for those 1% incremental improvements that will eventually lead to them being the best in the world.
- Quick wins and little victories give your business momentum. And momentum gives you motivation. Just like when you first start a diet, you are at your most motivated when you see you’ve lost those first few kilograms. So track these wins to show yourself progress – use each quick win to propel you to the next.
- But it’s not just motivation, quick wins are a great way to jumpstart your growth. I guarantee that you can implement something, straight away after reading this article, that will have a significant positive impact on your business. Just putting your prices up by 10% for example, you could have that in place before you go to bed tonight!
- Take some time, with your team if you have one, to set a quick win that will move your business forward and you can achieve in the next 24 to 48 hours. It might be a bit of marketing, it might be launching a new product or it might be sorting out a system in your business. You might even consider making it a regular exercise or challenge.
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