You may have heard the expression. You may have even been coached on this strategy. But what does it really mean to work smarter not harder? Is this a realistic possibility? Or is it a trite saying to create perplexity for the achiever in business?

Working smarter is about many different processes working hand in hand. Working smarter is about being “wise” in every business decision you make. It’s about putting the right systems into place in your department or business.

For example, you must develop a “Systems-Based Business” by implementing systems in your business or job to reduce the redundant activities. And don’t recreate the wheel! Ask others who have implemented systems to their business how they did it.

This can be as simple as identifying activities in your day that are wasting your time, causing you to work more and more hours, week after week. You can create a system to save you time each day, giving you a 40-hour surplus by the end of the year. If you decide to use this bonus week to plan your upcoming year strategically, you’ll be well on your way to working smarter, not longer.

Here are a few more quick examples of what you can do to work smarter, not harder:

*Use Technology: Be on the cutting edge instead of behind the times.

*Be Proactive: Adapt to business changes before your competitor does.

*Hire Experts: Hire people who are experts in their field so you can focus on what you do best.

*Build a Solid Team: Build a team of people with diverse strengths who make up for any weaknesses you may have within your company.

*Develop a Mastermind Group: Surround yourself with people who will encourage your ideas and give you new ones to consider and stretch your thinking.

*Practice “Kaizen”: Commit yourself to continuous learning. Read about innovative ideas others are implementing in a different industry than you.

Working smarter can be summed up by being the first to recognize an opportunity when others don’t. Your friends and family may call you crazy. But if you’re ahead of others in your industry/profession, I would encourage you to pursue your thoughts and ideas and turn them into a reality as soon as possible.

Execute your own market research to determine if your new product or service would meet the needs of people you already serve. The best test to determine if your idea will launch in the marketplace is looking at what currently exists compared to the needs of your current clients. If you are facing a challenge that has yet to be solved in your industry, you’re probably on to something big!

And if you’re thinking you need to have extensive capital to go into business for yourself, think again. I’ve coached many business owners who launched their own businesses with very little capital. Many owners never even received funding from a bank before they were able to turn their idea into a viable business.

Before you think you need to pay for extensive research, think creatively, not despairingly. Think laterally, not literally and figure out a way you can survey your target market without a large investment on your part. Perhaps you can partner with a business owner in a complimentary industry who needs to send out his/her own customer satisfaction survey. Ask if you can help him/her by doing the legwork yourself, in exchange for posing a few questions at the end of the survey.

Once you know you have a viable product or service the market demands, then you’ll want to test your idea on a small scale before you invest everything on a large scale.

Iron out any glitches that may be in your system before you grow exponentially.

Revise anything that may squander your profits, then launch the next phase of your business idea.

Look for next Tuesday’s Secrets to Success article for tips on bringing an innovative idea to market. In the meantime, think of how you can work smarter, not harder in your business or profession.

”The Coaches Challenge To You:”

What areas of your business can you focus on to bring you (and your team) increased results without doing more? It may take a little time to discover an answer to this question or it may come to you immediately, but I promise you one thing. You will discover new ways you can work smarter not harder by just thinking about it and asking yourself the daily question, “How can I work smarter in my business/profession today?”

”’Deborah Cole Micek, the chief executive officer of RPM Success Group, is a performance results coach and life strategist. Reach her at mailto:Deb@RPMsuccess.com or (808) 237-1008.”’

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