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The Widow Who Doubled Profits

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A couple of years ago, a colleague of mine told me the following story. Is it true? Maybe. But even it it's not, it illustrates a critical point, and one that will significantly boost your success.

Here it is:

There was once a young man who had just graduated from college with an engineering degree. He did what most of his classmates did and got a job as an engineer. Within the next few years he got married and had his first child. And then another child.

But after working "for the man" for twenty years, he decided to start his own firm; an engineering consulting firm. While at first business was slow, over the years he built up his firm. In fact, 30 years after founding his company, he was generating millions of dollars in annual revenues.

But then, at the age of 72, he died.

And he left the business to his 71 year old wife.

Now his wife had never run a business in her life. In fact, lately, most of her days were spent at the country club golfing and dining with her friends.

But within a year, she doubled the firm's profits.

How did she do it?

Simple. She visited the company a week after her husband passed and sat down with the management team.

And then she told them to do two things:

   1.  Make me a list of the 5 things that worked the best in the last 12 months
   2.  Make me a list of the 5 things that worked the least in the last 12 months

The list of things that worked included items like upselling current clients, getting new clients from partnerships they formed, and their program that hired and trained new sales reps.

The list of things that didn't work included radio advertising, sponsoring trade shows, and a new service offering that just didn't catch on.

So the widow made one demand. She said, "Do more of the 5 things that worked, and stop doing the 5 things that didn't work."

The management team listened. And within a year, the company's revenues and profits both doubled.

Yes, it's that simple.

But most of us don't do this. Here's why. Throughout our lives, we've been told to improve our weaknesses and never quit. So, in business, when something doesn't work, our first impression is typically to fix it.

However, that's generally not the best solution. Rather, the best solution is typically to do more of what is already working. Those are the things that are proven to work. So why try to fix an unproven concept, when you already have figured out a winner?

Now, when it comes to marketing, I DO suggest to always tweak and test new ideas. Since creating new promotional vehicles which are profitable can give you competitive advantage. But in most other areas, you should focus more on your winners.

So, take out a pen and paper and:

   1.  Make a list of the 5 things that worked the best for you in the last 12 months
   2.  Make a list of the 5 things that worked the least for you in the last 12 months

And then make sure to focus the vast majority of your efforts on doing more of what's worked.


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