You own a small business and it’s growing. You’re an entrepreneur who had a great idea, and your idea is starting to blossom. Let me guess what your day looks like:
- Piles of undone to-do’s left over from yesterday and all the yesterdays before
- A full inbox, getting fuller by the minute
- Voice messages to return
- Customers to deal with
- Employee issues
- Money that’s hard to collect and bills that have to be paid
- New to-do’s piling up as the clock ticks
How’d I do? The life of a growing entrepreneur can seem like a vortex that sucks you further underwater the harder you paddle. Sometimes it’s organized chaos. More often than not it’s just chaos. You scramble your way through a day trying to keep as many plates spinning as you possibly can, then you go home, usually late and always exhausted. And then you come back tomorrow and do it all over again. You could read plenty of books with lots of great business ideas. But you don’t have the time. You could double your staff and try to keep up with your growth…but you don’t have the money. What you need is something you can get for free. You need the discipline of focus. Focus on what? These six keys to freedom.
Vision: It doesn’t matter how fast you’re pedalling the bicycle of your business if you don’t have a clear idea of where you’re going. While strategic planning can sound daunting it doesn’t have to be. You can do all the planning you need on a single sheet of paper, and you only need to answer eight basic questions.
People: Like it or not, the truism is a fact of entrepreneurial life…you have to have the right people in the right seats. When you’re stuck, take the time to evaluate whether you’ve got the right business structure, whether everyone’s role is clear, and whether everyone has the capacity to be successful in their role.
Data: Numbers matter. While you don’t have the luxury of exhaustively analysing ever numeric nuance of your business, you can – and must – have your arms around the precious few weekly measurables that predict the future. Know what they are and watch them religiously.
Issues: Your business has issues. Tons of them. Opportunities, barriers, risks, challenges, you name it. And the future of your business depends on the extent to which you can regularly capture those issues, effectively prioritize them, and solve them. Ineffective business owners kick issue cans down the road. Effective ones solve them once and for all and move on.
Process: If you’re constantly reinventing the wheels of your most important processes your wasting time, wasting money, and guaranteeing inefficiency. You don’t need a huge and exhaustive process document detailing every single process in your business, but you do need to document the critical few major processes you have and ensure that people follow them. Many people underestimate the time management savings associated with just saying ‘no’.
Traction: The best strategy in the world does you no good if you don’t make sure that your long-term plans get translated into short-term tactical efforts. With a few simple regular meetings, clarity around your most important short-term priorities and accountability around weekly execution you can achieve amazing results.