In college, I worked part time as a personal trainer. If you belong to a health club or have ever joined a health club, you know that January is “join” month because so many people resolve to lose that extra 15 pounds. Our club was really busy until about late March. Then nearly 90% of the people that joined in January stopped coming.

One of the secrets of beating the market and outselling your competition is pretty much the same as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you only focus on what you need to do, you will never reach your goal. Why? Because you first need to fix what you aren’t doing well in order to make any meaningful changes in your life. The same is true in business. Following are the most important questions I ask home builders and sales people today.

1. Are you fixated on the market? The market will not help you in 2008. In fact projections are, the market will only work against you. Stop reading about how bad things are. Avoid listening to the news and anyone who says you can’t be successful in 2008.

2. Who are you in 2008? You won’t be successful in 2008 by being who you were yesterday or today. Our industry has changed and will continue to change. Are you changing with it? Better yet, are you changing faster than the industry is?

3. Where is your focus? Most homebuilders are still centered on building a “quality” home. I hate to burst your bubble, but just building a quality home is not going to cut it any more. Your focus needs to be 100% on your customer.

4. Are you playing it safe? Understand this. Safe is boring and average. Homebuyers in 2008 will not buy average. They want extraordinary. And I’m not just talking price. Our knee jerk reaction for these times is to hunker down and weather the storm. That kind of strategy will bury you in the mountains of offerings — and lead to a slow, painful decline and potential death.

5. Are you worried that if you try something it may not work? Sam Walton built Wal-Mart around the “Ready-Fire-Aim” methodology. Sure he had ideas that didn’t work. When they didn’t, he tried something else until he found what did. The faster you fail at something, the faster you find what works. My suggestion? “Fail forward fast!”

So now that you know what to stop doing, where in the world should you start? You can begin by asking yourself these questions:

1. What can I do to beat the market?

2. How can I better focus on my customers?

3. If I don’t play it safe, what should I do?

Happy Selling !