In 1996, a 20 year old Tiger Woods was named Sports Illustrated‘s sportsman of the year and the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. In 1997, he won his first Masters with a massive 12 stroke victory at Augusta, becoming the tournament’s youngest ever winner. Then he changed his swing!
He called in Harmon, his coach, and told him that his swing was too reliant on timing. “Anybody can time their swing for a week, but I want to do this for a career,” he said.
Tiger wanted to build a system which would work under the extreme pressures of a world championship. “When the pressure’s on, good mechanics will overcome nervousness. At the same time, the guy who has good mechanics will get less nervous because he knows the other guys will break down first.”
Throughout 1998, Tiger Woods struggled and won only once. Still he stood by the new swing he was learning and practicing. At the Byron Nelson in 1999, Woods famously signalled what was to come with a phone call to Harmon from the range. “I got it,” he said.
Between 2000 and 2002, Woods won 19 times on the PGA Tour, with six majors, including a stretch where he won four majors in a row; the so-called “Tiger Slam.” Golfers today often talk about Woods’ Harmon swing as one of the greatest swings in the history of the game.
There are several ideas in the above story that apply to businesses. Here’re some that stand out:
Critically examine your success
Ask yourself what really has made your business successful. Often, business owners tend to look for reasons for whenever they fail and spend an incredible amount of time identifying the things that the business should not be doing. When things work however, they peg it down to their superb sales/ entrepreneurship/ creative skills. You need to constantly ask yourself what the actual reasons for your success are and how easy they are to replicate.
No business is immune to change. For a business’s long-term survival it is important to take a step back and re-evaluate how you deliver your core product/ service and message.
You can either reach acceptance through the cycle – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance – or simply start there. Accountancy as a profession changed relatively little until the introduction of computers. Now as cloud based finance systems revolutionise the market, the profession is throwing up massive opportunities for those willing to embrace change.
Plan for change
The first step is to recognise the need for constant change. Every year, if not every quarter, set aside at least a few hours to analyse your business and the potential and likelihood for change. One of the oldest and most established tools for doing this is a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. Look at what your customers and competitors are saying and doing. Ask your suppliers for input. You’ll be surprised how much competitive information they would have. Go online to research what people are saying about products and services similar to yours. When was the last time you googled for ‘I need a [your product]’?
Create a specific plan of action to implement the change. Remember that people rarely like the the idea of change, so there will always be a lot of pressure to keep things as they are and hope for the best.
Stick to the Plan
Often in every process of change, there is a dip before the really steep climb begins – in profits and in motivation levels. Remember that failure and success are not on two ends of a scale – they are at the same end of the scale – failure is right before success. The successful businesses are those that exhibit ‘grit’ in their pursuit of their goals.
Play for the long term
Pick the top things that you believe have worked for your business since inception, or for the last 20 years. Then list 3 reasons that threaten each of these things not working in the next 3 years. Build your business with the end in mind – robust systems and a good team should be running the business when you are ready to retire/ move on. If you are the majority of the strength that keeps your business alive, you need to rethink your business swing!
Seek Best Practice
Often, business owners are so ingrained in their day-to-day, that they miss out the forest for the trees. The complimentary strategic business review we offer is to help you take a step away and look at your business alongside a business coach to identify areas and strategies where you can start the process of small and massive improvements. Drop us a line and someone from the team will get in touch to schedule this with you. Change your swing, then do it again!