Are you continuously finding ways to delight customers, eliminate unnecessary costs and improve your products and services? If so, your business is probably gaining strength. If not, you are not standing still, you are definitely going backwards.

To win in business takes continuous hard work!

I know, I know, that’s no secret, but it had to be said. Just bear with me for a moment.

There are almost no businesses left that don’t require hard work if you want them to grow beyond providing you with a reasonable living and something to do everyday.

Believe me. I have looked for a long time! I have not found one and if you know of one please let me know.

There are certainly easier businesses than others.

Every day I speak to people who want to grow their business but find very few who are willing to develop to do what it takes. So most remain small scratching out a living, but with no real prospects for rapid growth or true prosperity.

Here are six dirty little secrets to keep you on course and achieving what you set out to achieve when you started out:

Dirty Little Secret #1: You Need Resolve to Keep You on Course.

Many of us, who own our own businesses, are ideas people. Every day we have new ideas we want to execute. Everyday there are business opportunities that look more interesting that the one we are currently chasing down. The problem is if you don’t focus, you will never grow.

I don’t agree with a lot of the popular presenters who talk about the need for multiple streams of income. It’s not that I don’t think this is a good strategy. It is, but only once you have one thing running well without a need for your constant input, should you move onto something else and begin to build that. Most of these presenters are selling ways to generate additional streams of income, so don’t you think there might be some bias in their advice?

If you focus on too many things, you achieve very little. One of my business partners always said; “If you chase two rabbits they both get away.”

You have to decide what really matters to you. You have to do some soul searching and you have to be honest with yourself. Once you know what you want, focus all of your attention on achieving it, and stay with it.

Dirty Little Secret #2: You Don’t Find Time for Important Things, You Have to Make Time.

If you look at your resolutions and goals I think you will find that many of them never became reality simply because you didn’t set aside the time to work on them.

Many business owners spend so much time working in the business; they have no time for working on the business.

You have to break the cycle by scheduling time every week in your calendar to work on important things. If they are important, make an appointment with yourself and treat them like any other important appointment.

Dirty Little Secret #3: Many of Us Major in Minor Things.

When you own and run a business, you have to stop operating like a worker and begin to act like a boss. For most workers, work shows up and they do it. As a business owner, you have to decide what’s most important, and work on that. You can’t afford to get side tracked by what’s easy or fun or less stressful.

You have to decide what is most important and do it, or get it done.

Your mantra has to be; “If it is to be, its up to me.”

Don’t sweat the small stuff if it isn’t done, it isn’t the end of the world; particularly if you have got all the important stuff done.

Dirty Little Secret #4: Resourcefulness is More Important than Resources.

Resources are important. You can’t make any change happen until you know what resources you need to make it happen. You may need more resources or you may need different ones, but you need to define your requirements.

Most small businesses are strapped for resources, be it money, people or equipment. But this should not stop you. You can get almost anything you want if you are resourceful.

Somebody always has what you need, so once you find them there are many ways to get what you need. Try barter and joint ventures for starters.

Dirty Little Secret #5: Define the Next Step.

Do you make lists of all the things you have to do and then cross off each item as you do it? If so, you probably find your list never gets any shorter and there are some tasks that never get done.

One way around this is to list every task you have, and at the same time define the outcome you desire and the next action you need to take to move this closer to reality.

One of the reasons we don’t take action is that when we are busy we don’t take the time to figure out the next step. Often the task looks like a big complex activity and we shy away from it looking for something easier and quicker to do.

Defining the next action breaks it down into smaller more achievable tasks and gets you moving forward. Every time you list a task or delegate it to someone else, ask yourself; “What the next action here?” Write it down so you don’t have to think of it next time you are looking at your list of to do’s.

Dirty Little Secret #6: Manage Your Time Strategically.

As a business owner you have choices over how you spend your time. There is “Preparation Time” which is for delegating tasks, planning your strategies and tactics. It’s time for outlining your ideas and even for cleaning up stuff that’s gone wrong. This is also the time you set aside for learning important new skills that will take you where you want to go. I personally make a point of studying new materials and ideas everyday. One of my biggest budget items is training.

Then there’s “Achievement Time” which is for doing the things that make you money and move you toward your goals.

Finally, there’s “Rejuvenation Time”. This is exactly what it sounds like; time off away from business recharging the batteries. This is where you do the things you love to do that have nothing to do with work.

You have to schedule this time and plan it. If you don’t, it won’t happen and you’ll find your progress slowed. I personally only have 3 days per week where I am focused on “Achievement Time”. I have 1 to 2 days of “Preparation Time” and in the summer, I try to have 2.5 days of “Rejuvenation Time”.

I find working this way keeps me fresh and creative, while at the same time I get far more done. And most of what I get done is important stuff. If you work with these dirty little secrets, you will find the changes imperceptible at first, but as they gather momentum and the work you put in begins to show the cumulative effects you will be astonished at what happens in your business.