Five things that changed my (business) life

In the history of a business career, there are many ideas, circumstances and turning points that define and reveal success. Recently, I tried to determine what things favorably changed and altered my path.

I narrowed down my conclusions to five concepts that have significantly shaped the outcome and impacted me. In no particular order they are:

David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” — This book really changed my perspective on handling and arranging my daily activities. I learned so many ways to be more efficient and to reduce the burden and stress of information overload. Eventually, I was able to feel very satisfied with my daily accomplishments and be a better businessperson.

Focusing — During Main Street Gourmet’s evolution, we arrived at various crossroads and invariably had to make shifts in direction. Most of those decisions involved coming to grips with our driving force. Ultimately, we made very deliberate decisions that resulted in a particular focus and steering resources in that direction. Two prime examples consisted of our decision to focus on selling muffin batter through a wholesale channel (vs. selling our products through our retail establishment) and changing our sales approach to customization (vs. selling stock products). These focus decisions were pivotal and favorably changed our business, moving us to new frontiers.

Partnerships, associates, board of advisers — I have been very fortunate to have had a great business partner (Harvey Nelson), and an association with many key and valuable employees who have been instrumental in our success. These relationships have undoubtedly been critical as we push through the many peaks and valleys of business. Within the first few years of starting our business, we organized a board of advisers that included people who were experts in their fields and areas where we were not well versed. As I look back on our accomplishments, there are so many important benefits that I could trace right back to some member of that board.

Meditation — Although not for everyone, and something that takes a long time to master (if that can ever be done), meditation has given me so many benefits to get through the inescapable roller coaster of running a business for so many years. For me, meditation has provided a refuge and calming influence that is irreplaceable in my life.

Goal setting — Perhaps this is business 101, but I am always amazed at how many favorable outcomes were ingrained in some sort of personal or business goal that was developed. I am not just talking about yearly business and strategic plans, but personal goals that only I can understand, covet and decree. The continual review and reminder of these goals has been an important part and process that has resulted in satisfying outcomes.

A few of these concepts were the result of looking at someone else’s life-changing ideas or a suggestion from a friend or colleague. Hopefully, one of these ideas will be incorporated into your organizational system and change your life.

Steven Marks is a two-time winner of the Small Business Administration’s “Small Business Person of the Year” award. He is also the founder of the Akron Marathon.