How many times as a small business owner have you started the day thinking: “mmm I don’t have anything to do today”. I’ll bet it’s never happened. I know it’s never happened to me.
In fact, it’s often the opposite – “I have so much to get done I just don’t know where to start”.
With all that stuff to get done, there is a tendency to focus on delivery for clients and customers first. Then there is the urgent admin – the bills to pay before the power gets cut off, the VAT return (never get on the wrong side of the VAT man), or the mileage records for all that running about.
Never do you seem to have enough time to work on the business instead of in the business. Well this week’s blog is all about creating the time and opportunity to work on the business instead of in the business. It will also help you decide what tasks to do when you start working on the business.
The single most important thing for you to do in your business is get and keep customers. No customers, no sales. No sales, no profit. No profit, no business.
So doesn’t it make sense that you should be doing something every single day to find and keep customers. So what is scheduled in your diary today that is going to find or keep customers? I’ve set up a boosted post campaign for a Hub event, I’m writing this blog to demonstrate the value of the Hub and I have a 1:2:1 booked with an existing member delivering value to them and building the trust and value they see in being a Hub member. 3 things to find and keep customers.
If you came along to my LinkedIn 60 in 60 talk at the Guildford Hub in February you would have heard me talk about my default diary. This is where I set aside specific times in my diary to get stuff done. Some slots are for admin but the really key slots are my daily 90 minutes working on my business rather than in my business.
These are the slots where I am taking action to develop and grow my business. It might be to write a valuable piece of content (like this blog post). It might be to create a Facebook ads campaign. It might be to create a new product. Whatever it is, it’s something that will move my business forward. It doesn’t have to be 90 minutes in one go. I would suggest 30 minute slots should be the minimum to get some quality work done.
There are some key rules about your 90 minutes.
- Plan them – don’t start by having to decide what you are going to work on because you’ll have already wasted some of the time.
- Turn off all distractions – email, Facebook, notifications, the phone etc. Short periods of concentrated effort are worth way more than protracted periods of meandering activity
- Have your work environment set up to help you succeed – equipment, resources, quiet space etc.
When I was still working in the city I used to do half my 90 minutes on the train going in to London. 45 minutes was enough to crack a blog article or connect and engage with target customers on LinkedIn or learn a new skill from an e-book or online programme. You can be creative in how you make room for those 90 minutes.
Create a plan
Many businesses have a natural rhythm or pattern developed over a period. Regular meetings take place – networking, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hub etc. Customers come and go and work gets done, but there’s no real plan to drive the business forward.
Many business set goals or objectives either at the end of the previous year or the very start of the current year. But they don’t do anything different to achieve those objectives.
“If you always do what you’ve always done
You’ll always get what you’ve always got”
Or, more likely, your business will wither and die because the competition isn’t going to stand still. So you need a plan to achieve your goals or objectives. It doesn’t need to be a huge, all-encompassing grand plan, but you do need a plan. What is the one thing you are going to do next month to grow or develop your business? What steps are involved? What actions need to be taken?
Break the ‘thing’, whatever it is in to a series of tasks and allocate them to your 90 minutes in your default diary. Now you have a plan!
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and many businesses stagnate because of the failure to execute a well-intentioned plan. It’s one of the reasons why, at the start of every Hub meeting I bang on about getting stuff done. Education is great, planning is essential, but its action that delivers results.
The best way to make sure you implement your plan is to have some accountability. If only you know about your plan, then only you can beat yourself up if you don’t achieve it. It’s your little secret. But if you tell somebody else about it and then they ask how you are getting on and you’ve made no progress it’s a bit embarrassing.
But if you do more than just tell someone about it and you actually ask them to hold you accountable. Then if you don’t do it you’ve wasted their time, eroded their trust, let them down. You don’t want to do that do you? So you have to do the task, the work, the action.
I was part of a small online marketing mini-mastermind type group. Online support and weekly calls. We were going through a programme to create a new marketing campaign and I said I would be writing a new e-book on the people side of project management. I committed to the Group I would do it by a certain date. I had accountability. It was to a small private group who were not my target market so if I failed it would be embarrassing but not really bad. So the group leader suggested I emailed my list telling them what I was doing and asking if anyone would like to read and comment on a first draft which would be published to them by a fixed date.
Wow – this was much bigger and right out there in my target market. I sent the email later that day to my entire list and got 13 positive responses within 24 hours. I now HAD to deliver, and I did. Accountability works.
If you are a Guildford Hub member, find an accountability buddy within the membership. Put your tasks in our private Facebook Group and I’ll help you be accountable. If you are not a member, find a business buddy and do the same. Make it real.
Will it make your boat go faster
We all get stuff done every day, but is it the right stuff. You may have set up your default diary so you have the time set aside to make a difference in your business but are you doing the right things?
I attended a one day seminar run by a former Olympic rower, Ben Hunt-Davis. Ben had been to several Olympics as part of the 8-man crew and each time came away with nothing. In the build up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 he and the rest of the team decided enough was enough. They were only going if they were going to win.
In short, they examined every aspect of their training, their diet, their preparation and their interactions and asked one question – will it make the boat go faster? If the answer was yes, they did it. If the answer was no, they didn’t. They were the first rowing 8 not to take part in the opening ceremony. Why? Because it would have interfered with their preparation. It would not have made the boat go faster so they didn’t go. Ben now runs a business helping companies to do the same thing.
Look at all the stuff you are doing in your business. Some of it, like admin, won’t necessarily make your boat go faster but not doing it could slow it down, so you should do it. But prioritise the stuff that will make your business grow and develop.
One of the best ways to make room in your diary for your 90 minutes is to make sure you work as efficiently as possible. That could mean outsourcing those jobs you do that other people could do better and quicker, freeing you up to do the stuff that will make your business boat go faster.
It could also mean using processes and technology to do things more efficiently. As a Guildford Hub member, you could book a 1:2:1 session with me, free as part of your membership, and we could take a look at your processes. An independent review can often spot opportunities for improvements.
On the technology front, these days there’s an app for practically everything. With that in mind, next Monday at the Guildford Hub we have Rebecca Bromley, owner of the Business CoPilot and co-owner of Farnham Hub coming to share with us some of her favourite time saving apps.
The Guildford Hub Monday 26th February
Rebecca Bromley is the co-owner of The Farnham Hub, member of the Digital Experts Academy and founder of The Business CoPilot. With all that going on, she’s become a master of making use of technology to save her time (and sanity). Her presentations are funny, insightful and worthy of the TED stage. And she writes her own ‘About the speaker’.
There are generally at least 10 different apps for everything you need in your business. From graphic design through to tracking your mileage. And though this is a good thing, it can become overwhelming to know which ones to even download or sign up to, let alone working out how to use them.
In this workshop, I’m going to take you through the 6 best FREE productivity apps for small business owners.
I’ve hand selected the ones that give you the best ROI on the time it takes you to set them up. They’re all easy as pie to use, have great interfaces, good customer support and can be used on either smartphone or computer.
If you’re reading this blog after the date on which this talk was run, or you can’t make the date, don’t despair. All Hub talks are livestreamed in the Business Hubs Members Closed Facebook group and are then stored in the group for you to watch again and again at your convenience. All Hub members have access to our back catalogue of talks since we started livestreaming in the middle of 2016. It’s another huge benefit of being a Hub member.
Go to www.guildfordhub.com to see what’s on and sign up. Your first visit is free.