Can you remember when there was no such thing as Federal Express? Forty years ago it was a baby-sized company—a few planes and not many customers. But FedEx soon thrived, and in doing so it proved a point: Overnight delivery is worth a premium. It helps people get things done a lot quicker, which is another way of saying more competitively. Because time really is worth money.
Pretty soon a host of bigger companies, even the U.S. Postal Service itself, jumped into the trend FedEx had started, bringing to bear huge commitments of their considerable resources. And yet FedEx has remained dominant. It’s even become a verb: People will say, “I’ll FedEx this package to you,” even if they’re actually using another courier.
I’m a big believer in the notion that consumers, given choices, will naturally eradicate every single source of waste or inefficiency in business: everything from the high cost of telephone service (as in Internet phones) to segments of entire professions. If it’s a middleman/woman, they’re gone —unless they are adding a lot of value to their clients throughout the day.
Delay is simply one of the many unnecessary expenses that consumers are now rejecting.
Delay is something that you can really do something about on a practical basis, and right away – and as a consequence of eradicating it your company becomes highly desirable in the marketplace.
Following are seven ways to get started—immediately.
Choose to deal only with companies or clients who respond immediately to what you want or what agree to deliver. Know that delay of any kind is wasteful or, at the very least, expensive. Delay slows down your creative process, so be unwilling to tolerate it. Don’t get upset if something doesn’t arrive when it should.
Simply work with someone else next time. To put it another way, quick response adds value—which makes you more attractive. And, believe me, there are plenty of people who value immediate response as much as you do. So choose which group you wish to join—the Immediate Response Club or the Delay Club. It matters.
2. Transform Your Business Into A Responsive Enterprise
When you respond immediately to inquiries or questions from clients or prospective customers, their trust expands greatly, without your having to do anything else. People fear delay. They are reassured by immediate responses.
That dynamic alone will make you a lot more attractive to yourself and to others because delay sometimes signals a shortage of integrity. Not always, but often enough to make people wary about whether you’ll really come through.
The payoff is that you and your client will find yourselves getting more done in less time. So, while eliminating delay is a great thing in and of itself, it’s often just the beginning of what’s possible.
3. Learn Quickly And Integrate Changes
Computers and the Internet are among the most important changes of our era. In the future, the companies that stay ahead will do so by generating an abundant stream of new technology and ideas. In a similar way, people who respond quickly (versus people who think slowly) will thrive.
How quickly do you both assimilate new ideas and implement whatever changes are called for as a result of what you learned? For most people, there is a lag. In some cases it runs into a day or so; in others, it’s a lifetime.
New information, truths, or new ways of doing things have to filter into our heads and through our systems. If they are delayed on the way, they’ll probably get either diluted or completely lost before we can benefit from them. “Turning on a dime” is one way to describe the preferred mode, and the place to start is to understand how long your “delay/integration process” takes.
Then seek to shorten it by 90 percent. True, you’ll make some mistakes by responding too quickly to false signals. But it’s better to master the signals in your body and in life than to play it safe and miss out on the real opportunities that business and life present.
4. Respond Before Delay Is Possible
If you really understood how costly delays are to you, your people, and to your business, you’d quickly make changes to eliminate them. It’s more than just avoiding delays; it’s about being a scout—sensing what’s around the next bend, even before the competition knows there’s a bend coming, and making immediate changes to take advantage of what’s ahead.
This way of thinking leads to an extreme competitive advantage, having been practiced by leaders who have become household names such as Jobs, Musk, and Gates just to name a few.
5. Filter What Matters
Should you respond to everything that comes to you? Could you really do this? Probably not. But you can filter what comes at you so that you do have time to respond immediately to whatever really matters.
One way I filter out stuff is by maintaining just a few key and mutually supportive friendships and relationships. Managing and supporting several relationships consumes bandwidth. For me, having a few friendships and relationships of terrific quality proves that less equals more.
Another way to filter is to let an assistant, whether local or virtual (quick shout out to Cathy M), handle your incoming E-mail and even regular mail. Just instruct your assistant on what matters to you, yet give him or her freedom to include whatever else might interest you.
Another way to filter is to know what your vision is. When you’re clear on this and on your personal values, your clarity will automatically filter out unwanted stuff. You’ll be attracting the appropriate information, along with people who have a similar vision.
Joy is an excellent filter as well. If something is not going to bring you joy, it shouldn’t get into your life.
6. Build Capacity Before You Need To
If you’re successful or plan to be, it only makes sense that the demands on your time will increase.
Think of a computer. One that’s okay for an elementary school student to do homework assignments on will probably be too limited in speed and memory to handle a small business’s inventory, shipping, customer base, projections, etc. In other words, its CPU (central processing unit) will be underpowered relative to what’s needed.
And if that small business really grew, the computer would soon be a bottleneck—until it was replaced by perhaps several computers linked in a network or by a giant mainframe. Given that success is bound to happen, the only responsible thing to do is to consciously scale up your support system and personal capacities in order to handle the oncoming demands.
Most people are in the mode of scrambling to keep up. Instead, always operate at a 50 percent reserve factor. Scrambling to keep up with opportunities puts you behind the curve. Being ready for opportunities takes you to the next level, where you will once again scale up your support system and personal capacities. Be responsible—develop a personal system that generates quick responses.
7. Find Out Why You Delay
Learning slowly, deferring decisions, or playing wait and see can sometimes be the very best approach!
Occasionally, the best decision is going to be no decision at all. This is sometimes known as “good timing.”
However, if you find yourself always putting things off, or delaying in any manner, ask yourself why.
Take the time to count the cost in lost opportunities, lost business relationships, increases in stress, and most importantly the loss in time that is never to return.
When you respond in your business, the benefits are multiple and far-reaching, to say the least. So, compress time and thrive.