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Your Business' "One Thing" -
Another Lesson from the movie City Slickers

by Bill Collier

I love the scene in the movie City Slickers where Billy Crystal's character, Mitch, is alone with Curly, played by Jack Palance. Curly is giving Mitch some life advice.

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? 
[holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest
don't mean s***.
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"
Curly: That's what you have to find out.

What's your business' one thing?

Here's an exercise for you to do. Ask yourself this question:

What is the one thing that, if done well, would propel my business to the next level of success?

Get out a sheet of paper and brainstorm on this. Write down all the ideas that come to you.

Chances are, you have several great ideas for increasing sales, reducing costs, gaining efficiency, and improving profits, but all have been relegated to the "back burner" due to time constraints. You've been too busy to succeed.

At this first stage of this project, don't try to "drill down" and include a lot of detail. Just come up with broad overview ideas. The detail comes later.

In a single brainstorming session, you can probably think of at least 5 or 10 things for your list - maybe many more. That's OK. When you think you're done, put the list where you can get to it easily. If you move around during your work day, carry it with you.

During the next week, give this question some additional thought. If you have employees, ask them for their input. Every time an additional idea comes to you, get out your list and add it.

At the end of a week, sit down with your list and start narrowing. By now, you've given it enough thought so that some ideas will be removed immediately, and others may rise to the top. Remember - you're looking for that one thing to propel your business, so don't fall in love with them all and try to do too much. One thing.

Once you identify your "one thing", get specific and define success - set some targets and a timeframe. Now go do it. Rearrange your schedule. Make the extra effort. Get your employees on board. Ask those around you to hold your feet to the fire. Every week, put it on your calendar or to-do list, and make steady, relentless progress. Monitor the results. I predict you'll like the outcome.

A focused, disciplined approach is the key to success in any business. Don't let yourself become too busy to succeed.

Bill Collier 2007 All Rights Reserved

Bill Collier is a St. Louis-based business coach, consultant and speaker. He is the author of the book "How to Succeed as a Small Business Owner and Still Have a Life." His website is, and his email is



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