Quick. How do you lose weight?

I’ll bet your answer included eating less and exercising more. We all know this. Yet how many of us with some excess padding, struggle to lose weight? It’s obviously not as simple as it sounds.

That’s why businesses like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and a host of others thrive and prosper.

So how do you grow your business?

You probably know that there are only a few things you need to do:

If you do this then your business will grow.

So why isn’t your business where you want it to be? Again, its obviously not as simple as it sounds.

In many cases we aren’t implementing what we know. So for most people, even though there is a tremendous amount to learn, it isn’t knowledge that’s holding you back. We need a lot more doing of the right things and a lot less time spent on the wrong things.

Like people trying to lose weight, I think we get caught up in the day to day. We’re busy doing stuff, we forget, we procrastinate, we’re tempted to do things that are fun, as opposed to doing what will get results and overall, we like the freedom of doing pretty much as we please. Unfortunately if you keep doing this, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.

But you know what I’ve found through mentoring and coaching business owners over the last 4 years? I’ve discovered that if you give people 1 or 2 simple concepts, show them how to implement them, give them the opportunity to discuss it with peers, give them regular coaching and mentoring and build some accountability into moving forward, they get it done; often with astonishing results. But if you send people to a training program, they get great ideas, they come back bright eyed and bushy tailed, but not much happens.

With the addition of support, guidance and accountability, I’ve seen people double their sales with only one idea implemented well and consistently.

If you want to grow more rapidly, find someone who has done it before you. Someone who knows where the mines are. You need someone to guide you step by step through the minefield. For example, if you decide to use direct mail to generate leads or Yellow Pages advertising. Even if you are a good writer, do you know the tricks of the trade? There are many of them that will trap the unwary. Ignore them and you produce small or no results. Learn them and you succeed hugely.

Yes, it takes a little time, but anything worth having takes time and effort.

The first mistake many of us make is take advice from unqualified people. If you are taking advice on how to grow your business from someone who has not grown a business before, how do you know if you are getting good advice? I think that’s why so many consultants are not helpful. They may have sold what they are selling before, but how many have actually run a successful business?

When I started out in my first business, my Dad was the first person I turned to. He was a great father and had guided me very well during my school years and my early working career. However when I started my first business, I found that although much of his advice sounded good, was in fact wrong.

I remember him telling me; “Never make a big decision without sleeping on it.” It sounded like good advice to me. So one day, I had an opportunity come up that looked really good to me. I was living in what was then Rhodesia in Southern Africa. I was offered an opportunity to get the rights to a revolutionary product in a market I was very familiar with. I wanted to do it. There was very little risk and the person making the offer wanted to do it as well. We had been introduced by mutual friend, who told me the person I was dealing with was a very straight and honest person.

At the end of the meeting, I told him I was very keen, but needed time to think about it and I’d let him know the next day. We agreed that I would call him the next day.

When I called him the next day to accept his offer, he told me he’d had another meeting directly after mine and the person he was meeting with had agreed to become his agent for the country. I’d lost the opportunity.

Interestingly the person who got the rights, made a lot of money on this deal and eventually sold his business to a large multinational about 6 years later. That was the first time I lost out by sleeping on an idea.

I only did it once more before I was convinced that sleeping on some things is really a bad idea. It sounds like good advice, but in reality is not. That’s the problem with half truths. You may not be lucky and have the answer so dramatically demonstrated. You may simply keep getting mediocre results and not know why.

I now believe that to be successful in business one of the most important traits is to be decisive. But without the experience of running a business, my Dad simply didn’t know. I’ve learned it takes relevant experience to give good advice.

Who are you listening to? Who is your guide? How many successful businesses have they built? Are you getting misleading half truths that sound good, or are you getting the real goods from successful people who know the truth?