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The 2012 London Olympics are over and the tiny country of Jamaica (population of 2.7 million) dominated the sprint events. They took 10 of 14 possible medals, six of seven for the men and four of seven for the women. Usain Bolt set an Olympic record in the 100 meters and their 4X100 relay team set a world record.

I recently saw a headline that stated that the typical workday and work environment in the 21st century is very different than ever before. At many companies it’s expected that employees (salaried, sales and management primarily) be working, available or on-call much more than just the normal 8-5 time period.

This means we have to move fast in this era of instant and constant communication. We have to move faster than we did before, faster than others and stay nimble because reactions have to be quicker than ever in a fast-paced world. Here are three tips.

Plan – During an interview after the 4X100 relay Usain Bolt was asked about his plans for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He answered that he will work with his coach, plan what they want to do and install a training program for the next four years.

Let’s take a hint from Bolt; know where you want to go. It’s not enough to say, “increase sales,” plan the steps needed to generate more sales. On buy-sell deals I tell clients to look at the tentative closing date, work backwards to plan deadlines for required tasks (bank loan approval, valuation, first draft of contract, etc.) so there are firm milestones.

Do the same for business growth. If you want your salespeople to make 100 new contacts in the next quarter know what you have to do in the next month to make that happen. For example, if it takes 45 days to implement your marketing to generate the leads and 30 days after that to finish your contacting or prospects then you better start the marketing in the next 15 days.

Work on, not in your business – as an owner or CEO, supervise the planning, delegate duties and monitor your team. Don’t you, the owner, be the doer. You create value when you aren’t integral to day-to-day operations. Supervise your management, have meaningful management reports (with accurate information) and make adjustments as needed. Too much positive response to a marketing program requires tweaking as much as not enough response (you don’t want to lose prospective customer because you didn’t follow up in a timely manner).

Implement – it’s great to talk about planning, working on not in your business, strategies and similar things. None of it means anything if you don’t take action and get going. I started this article with the analogy to the Jamaican sprinters. Like them, we all need to get out of the blocks quickly and make things happen. Most things in business don’t require us to have every last detail defined before moving.


Speed, quickness and nimbleness are the keys in today’s economy. Whether you have a micro business, small business, middle market company or work for a large firm the race goes to the swift. It does take planning, training and exploding out of the blocks.

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