A severe thunderstorm is currently passing through our area. Flipping through a few books this evening (what else can you do during a monsoon?) I saw some ideas that I thought were worth sharing. Some old, some new and each applicable to business and sales:

1. Get prepared or get started? Strong cases can be made for both positions. Preparation is the key to effective and efficient action, but acting now is better than acting later. I cannot say which approach will work best for your specific situation and skill set, but I can tell you that the soldiers who charge the hill first are the ones who receive the promotions and medals. Both preparation and action can lead to success, but those who act swiftly are generally rewarded.

2. Set the course and let the captain sail the ship. Senior leaders plan the direction of a company. How financing will be obtained, which products and services will be sold and which marketing campaigns will be launched. Once the course has been charted, it is important to allow middle managers to execute and lead their teams. Decentralized management is essential in growing organizations. Find the right people and empower them to succeed.

3. Assess damage from ground zero. When critical challenges arise, inspecting the damage firsthand will provide greater clarity and remove the risk of losing important details as information moves through the chain of command. This is the fastest and most effective path to creating a solution and assessing future risk. And also why presidents and governors personally visit disaster zones.

4. Focus. Michael Jordan used to spend each summer adding one new element to his game. Kobe Bryant has followed a similar path, one year adding a post game, another adding a turnaround jumper and yet another becoming an elite defender. The results speak for themselves. But the trick was focusing exclusively on one area at a time. Focus on a product or a niche you can “own” and master it before you move on to the next one.

We may be rounding the corner into fall, but doesn’t mean you should expect a drop in sales. September is the perfect time to take a moment to assess your situation so that you — and your clients — can finish the year strong.

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John Scranton is an insurance agency marketing expert and vice president of StartUpSelling, Inc. which helps small businesses with lead generation, sales, marketing, website design and branding. For more information and tips from John, visit www.StartUpSelling.com, or go to his blog at http://startupselling.com/blogs/johnscranton.