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Discover your top priority in business | Opinion | – Hendersonville Standard

Stick with me here.

Whether you’re a Christian, Buddhist, or worship the Great Spaghetti Monster, you will appreciate this.

I’m not preachy, but I do try to read my Bible semi-regularly and one of my favorite set of scriptures is Matthew 22:36-40.

The Pharisees (the Bible’s version of Facebook know-it-all’s) wanted to trick Jesus by getting him to say one commandment was more important than the others.

And once he did that, they would be able to say that he didn’t think the other commandments were important and then they would be able to hit the thumbs down emoji and everyone would know what a jerk he was!

The Bible’s Case Study: The Most Important Commandment

When the Pharisees heard how Jesus had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Boom! If you get those two right, the rest have to fall into place.

No murder.

No adultery.

No stealing.

No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey or jet ski or vacation home.

Want a business example?

Sure you do!

Alcoa’s Case Study: Safety

In the book, The Power of Habit, the story of Paul O’Neill taking over as CEO of Alcoa, a large aluminum manufacturer, in 1987 lays out what it looks like to make a top priority really matter.

When O’Neill initially took over, his sole focus was worker safety.

It wasn’t new markets to penetrate, new products to produce, new research, etc. Just worker safety.

By the way, after his first presentation as CEO, the stock price for Alcoa went down, because of the concern over the simplification of making safety the top priority.

Fast forward to 2000, and the company’s market value increased from $3 billion in 1986 to $27.53 billion in 2000, while net income increased from $200 million to $1.484 billion.

Employees that feel safe tend to be more productive.

This decreases employee turnover, increases morale, and creates a work environment that is conducive to making money.

You get safety right and everything else has to fall into place.

My Case Study: Teaching workshops at the TSBDC

I could have easily said the top priority was just giving great advice to small business owners, but that may not be enough to keep people coming back and build referrals.

I used four questions that were loosely taken from the book, The One Thing

1. What are the things that other people say you do really well?

For me it is public speaking

2. What are the work projects that you really excel at and enjoy doing?

Getting face-to-face with small business owners to discuss their issues

3. What are you passionate about?

Making sure that small business owners understand all of their options for whatever stage they are in their business

4. What do you love doing most in your business (the important thing that you get so engrossed in that you lose track of time)?

Teaching workshops (not outsourcing most of them)

If I do a really good job of teaching small business workshops and teach enough of the workshops at the TSBDC, then everything else seems to fall into place.

People hear that the workshops are good and more people attend. If they see me in action, they are more likely to trust me and then schedule a counseling session. And if I counsel enough qualified businesses, I will help create economic impact and that’s what I’m supposed to be doing!

So that’s it. I personally teach really good workshops and that makes everything else fall into place.

The local pest control company Case Study: Intentional Customer Communication

Every year they would set new revenue goals, customer goals, wanted to lower turnover, reduce re-service requests, lower accounts receivable, customer service ratings, etc.

They decided that their highest priority should just be intentional customer communication.

Not just a little postcard and email newsletter now and then. They decided that everytime they were scheduled to come to your house they would send you a few text reminders, an email reminder that also had a picture of the tech and a few fun facts about him, and they would even call afterwards to see how things went.

And the results?

They met every one of the goals they set!

Because this priority makes everything else fall into place.

Since the customer knew for a fact when they were coming and what they were going to do, they made arrangements for the service to take place.

That means the tech got to do the pest service in the house and not just the outside, because the customer forgot about them and was not home.

Then the customer felt like they already knew the tech a little bit because they received the email about them, so the customer was more willing to pay the tech onsite instead of waiting to pay later.

This also means customers were happier and gave better ratings, because they were more involved in the process and the tech felt like they were doing meaningful work because the customer was happy to see them and paid right away.

So what is your top priority?

What is the one or two things that if done correctly, make everything else fall into place?

The temptation is to give a generic answer like great customer service or be the best at what you do.

Don’t do that.

Instead answer these four questions first to help you uncover your top priorities.

1. What are the things that other people say you do really well?

2. What are the work projects that you really excel at and enjoy doing?

3. What are you passionate about?

4. What do you love doing most in your business (the important things that you get so engrossed in that you lose track of time)?

The answers will help you uncover your top priority.

The one thing if done well, that makes everything else fall into place.

Charles Alexander is the director of the Small Business Development Center at Vol State.