4 Business Owners Weigh In: What's The ONE Thing Most Critical to Success?

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Inspired by "The ONE Thing," these business owners reveal their "one thing" that's been most critical to their success.

I could knock over the leaning Tower of Pisa starting with one 2-inch tall domino.

This was the powerful realization that came to me when I read page 14 of Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book The One Thing.

If you don’t know about the geometric progression of the domino effect it goes like this: in 1983, researcher Lorne Whitehead discovered that a domino could topple an object 50% larger than itself.  Starting with a domino just 2 inches tall, by the 18th domino with each being 50% larger than the one before, you could knock down the leaning Tower of Pisa. The 31st domino would tower almost 3,000 feet above Mount Everest.

The big take away from the book is that not all things matter equally… in business nor in life.

If you focus on just knocking down that first domino each day, it’ll build over time. You won’t notice much day by day, but in a short while you’ll see massive improvements in your business, productivity and profits.

I spoke with four business owners about what their "one thing" is to help each of us discover and focus on what our "one thing" is. Read on to glean insight from the tried and true entrepreneurs.

Don Hobbs Executive Vice President of Empire Builders One Thing

Don Hobbs – Executive Vice President of The ONE Thing training

The ONE Thing is about focus in the seven key areas of life: spiritual, health, personal, key relationships, job, business and financial.

If you think you don’t have time for you, you’re probably going to find it in the morning hours when things are more still. On business days, my eyes open between 4:45 and 5:15 AM.

My mornings include, generally in this order:

  1. Prayer and meditation. Prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening.
  2. Stretching to wake the muscles and the organs.
  3. On workout mornings, a pre-workout drink to help the muscles perform and a little protein. Then breakfast is critical. A protein-based drink with various greens, fruit and spices can rev up the metabolism. Breakfast with loved ones allows you to connect with those in your life and satisfies 2 critical areas.
  4. Journaling, and reading or listening to something inspiring or business related is next. I write a journal page or two and read 10 pages. Put these essentials into 5-10 minute blocks, and consider how audio books fit in your workouts or travel time.

This schedule includes time for your spiritual connection, self-care and others in your life. Life becomes energizing!

I begin work commitments between 7:45 and 8:15 AM and allow 15-30 minutes for essential emails. But remember—there are no email emergencies!

And then I am into my ONE Thing time. For me, that means lead generation. Talking to lots of people and either creating business by setting appointments or asking for referrals to create business. By the time I get to 12-12:30 PM, I have been extremely productive.

Forming the habits to live this schedule first took discipline. As a habit, things happen much more consistently and life is more fulfilling and productive.

Tony Tovar of Local Reach Pros

Tony Tovar – Founder of Local Reach Pros

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 17,000 businesses get started every day. More surprisingly, however, is that more businesses shut down than start up each month. 

Our “One Thing” is what keeps our clients’ businesses fighting against all odds to stay viable in the market place— a half-Day marketing roadmap process.

So, what sets us apart? Being better than the other guys in our market isn’t going to help us become an invaluable part of a potential client’s business. For Local Reach Pros, being the only choice starts with doing one thing differently than all the other digital marketing firms around.

We know our potential client’s business is unique and requires a custom-tailored plan to achieve growth.  That’s why we provide an in-depth, 2-page marketing plan session that sometimes takes half a day to complete. It’s a one-time investment upfront that is vital to the everyday work we do so we make sure we have drafted a road map to get results for each client.

It’s baffling how many marketing agencies expend little to no energy, time and effort in learning more about their potential client’s business and goals. How could any marketing company provide a quality, custom-tailored service without this first critical step?

Tom Bukacek co-founder of Black Box Social Media

Tom Bukacek – Co-founder Black Box Social Media

The one thing I focus on to fulfill my role at Black Box Social Media, is the clear understanding of the type of person I want to be. I recommend you do the same to achieve your vision for your business.

How do you envision yourself in the future?  Rich, successful, happy, intelligent?  If you have this vision of who you'd like to be, then ask yourself this question: “How would the person I would like to be in the future do the things I am about to do right now?”

When you clearly understand who you want to be in the future and the actions this person would take in given situations, then everything seems to fall into place. You make better decisions quicker and positive momentum builds in your business and life.  

Yogi Berra has a great quote:  "When you come to a fork in the road... you take it."  Those with a clear vision of who they want to be already, instinctively take the right path. Those without focus will just pick a path, or make decisions, without truly understanding the reason for it nor the long-term consequences of their actions.

Elizabeth Frisch of Thrival Company, Mission to Millions

Elizabeth Frisch – founder of The Thrival Company

My one thing at Thrival Company is being the resource for my customers in all aspects to help them achieve their goals. We receive 90% of our business from referrals and repeat business so for us the one thing every day is to keep the customers we have (then a close second is we go after new ones).

I’m proud to say I have clients that have been with me 20 years and followed me from business to business until I opened my own firm. Lead generation is great but keeping existing customers happy and in your company keeps the bills more than paid and gives you a stable base from which to grow new business.

What now?

Open your mind and allow these insights to guide you so you can find the one thing most important to getting your business where you desire it to go. Then hack away at that “one domino” until it falls, starting a chain reaction domino effect to grow your business.

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