Thursday, April 15, 2010


The number ‘three’ has great significance for writers, story tellers and public speakers. According to some sources, the ‘power of three’ is a mystical number that is used for telling a fairy tale (three bears, three little pigs, etc.) to identifying the basic structure of life (carbohydrates, protein, fat). Speakers are encouraged to use three thoughts to convey completeness, wholeness, roundness.

I did some research recently on this topic as a result of hearing someone speak about the importance of using ‘odd’ numbers in pricing products and describing products. For example, Listerine kills 99% of germs instead of 100%.

What does this have to do with your business? It occurs to me that I often overwhelm my business clients with too much information and too many steps to complete before our next meeting is scheduled. As a business owner, I also remember feeling overwhelm by the amount of information that I needed to absorb to feel comfortable with the financial, operational, and regulatory issues of my business. If we want to make progress toward a specific goal, it would make a great deal of sense to simplify the process and make it more manageable by setting one goal in each of these areas.

Under each goal, you might consider listing three strategies you intend to use and under each strategy, list three actions (actions link your strategy to operations) you intend to take. Identify how you intend to quantify and measure performance and put a time limit on it. Each goal needs to meet the SMART criteria, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound.
By using the Power of Three in this way, the task becomes more manageable, everyone stays more focused and things get done!! There is nothing more satisfying than reaching goals you have set for your business.

Some of you might be saying to yourself ‘I have no time to set goals or go through this process. I’ve got too much to do!’ I would suggest to you that you might need to step back from your business and use the power of three by setting some goals that give you perspective in other areas of your life. A business cannot be run very effectively, for very long if you ‘run out of gas’ on a personal level and your business will suffer if you fail to set goals and reach them.

Article written by Susan Hoosier, Certified Business Advisor and Certified Economic Development Professional, with the Washington Small Business Development Center in Longview, WA 360-442-2946. Susan has owned and operated three businesses and managed a revolving loan fund for a Midwestern Regional Development Commission.