The days of winging it are long gone. The game's changed.
What got you here won't get you there. You are either moving forwards or backwards. There is no other way.
In order to perform to your full potential in today's rural marketplace you need to plan, prepare and practice.
Times will get tougher in Ag and in the economy generally. There's no doubt.
Your competition never sleeps so it pays to not get complacent. Pricing pressure, new suppliers, talent shortage, new disruptive business models. The list goes on.
I've always preferred front foot rather than be left flat footed. Some say paranoia is your best friend. I prefer the other word: practice.
The world’s best athletes (Messi, Federer, Le Bron) practice and train like their lives and livelihoods depend on it. Million dollar sponsorships and championships are at stake.
There’s a reason why these professional sports superstars are the best in the business because:
The hard yards, sweat and tears they put in
They are disciplined
They don't get distracted
They have a singular focus on their goal
They are constantly improving their craft
They always think they can improve and never get complacent
Your rural business should be no different.
It's your livelihood at stake and it affects the lives and families of the people you employ. You need to give yourself a fighting chance.
If you want to change you have to change.
Being coachable is the key to success.
You need to be able to listen and take instruction from those that have the qualifications and expertise you don’t. How are you going to get better if you don’t do the things that will make you better? Or maybe you think you know everything you need to know already...self-awareness is a biggie.
Skills and drills can be your best buddies. Practice makes permanent, not just perfect. Role plays work too.
Top rugby teams like the All Blacks will always nail the basics before anything else. If you can’t catch, tackle, pass or kick you will never have the building blocks to become better.
Same goes for you. You build on top of the basics: sales, marketing, content strategy, lead generation, lead nurturing, converting and referrals.
You'd be surprised how many rural businesses don't even know the basics. Instead, they get seduced into the shiny new stuff like social media (which can be a major time suck if not executed well).
It’s likely your rural business will face bumps in the road if it hasn't already. Competition, commoditisation and price pressures are all constant facts of life. It never stops.
However you can either take action and see it as a challenge to overcome or be acted upon. It's your choice. You're either open-minded or fixed.
Challenges, issues, problems and setbacks are all very predictable yet so few of you prepare for them. Whereas the military prepare for all scenarios because lives, literally, depend on it.
Have you asked yourself:
What scenarios have you trained for?
What situations are you most likely to face?
What patterns can you see that proper planning can help you prevent?
Comfortable is what will kill you
Comfort zones always constrict so your world and range of opportunities get smaller and smaller giving you less and less options. Challenge zones expand meaning your work and opportunities get larger.
We have a thing called the “ok plateau”. This is where most of us stop learning because we get comfortable and don't push through.
We compromise at the plateau and don't pick ourselves up for the last push where the real reward of mastery is. Where the great separate from the good.
The key is deliberate and sustained practice just like our top sportspeople. They keep practising to be the best they can possibly be. It's a process that never stops.
The Knowing-Doing Gap
Humans have frailties and we’re often irrational.
We do things we know don’t work for us. We drink too much, we exercise too little, we miss sleep, we work too hard or we spend too little time with our families. The list goes on.
We know what we need to do but we often fail to do them.
It usually comes down to a lack of discipline or motivation. We won’t change unless we want to change. I’ve always said it’s hard to motivate an unmotivated person.
Self-motivation is the single-biggest trait of success. You have to kick your own arse.
So how are you going to make sure your rural business becomes better?
What actions are you going to take to make your rural business the best it can be?
Who can coach you to get you there faster?
What can you learn now?
What skills can you create or strengthen?
What are the rural sales and marketing systems you can apply?
When did you last commit to training your team?
The truth about trainers is that they hold us accountable. They get us to do the things we know we need to do but often don't or won't.
Some of you will have a personal trainer even though all the equipment is there for you to use at your gym.
You could do our own thing but you don’t. A trainer can get the best out of us by helping us push us past our self-imposed limitations. They set us a plan and help us achieve it. Your rural business should be no different.
Are you performing to your true potential?
My guess is you’re not. Same for me. We’re all work in progresses.
We don’t know what’s within us till we try. Training can be hard. So can be facing up to the reality that we have deficiencies. There's a vulnerability and reflection there that can be hard to swallow. But until we examine where we're weak we will never improve.
You should never stop training to be better. We fall to our level of training.
If you don’t train, your next fall could be a long one.