Why less is more – Focussing on the essential

Apr 8, 2016

Less is more, its a key lesson, but one we don’t easily learn

What’s the most important thing you need to do in your business right now? Are you doing it?

Usually we know exactly what it is we need to do to take our businesses to the next level, but so many other things get in the way and stop us doing the few essential tasks that make the real difference.

So, how do you focus and get the results you need?

 

Personal Offsite Session 3 – Less is More – How to focus on the Essential

Your time is limited, and you need results. Results need focussed effort. Generally doing a few critical things will bring these results. The Pareto principle of 80% of the results coming from 20% of the effort is very true. The trick is avoiding the 80% of effort that has least payback.

The key measure for any business owner should be return on effort (ROE). How do you maximise your ROE? I believe there are two ways you can do that.

  1. Only work on one project at a time and focus on it until it is complete.
  2. Identify the few critical things that will make the real difference for that project, and focus your effort on those.

Why only one project?

Put simply if you focus on too many different things you make very little progress on any of them, and none of them get to the place where they pay back some results. You can move an inch in a hundred different directions or a mile in one direction. If you only move an inch, then none of the 100 things will pay back any results.

Less is more - An inch in 100 directions or 100 miles in one direction

Less is more – An inch in 100 directions or 100 miles in one direction

Less is more. One project with results is easily worth more than three in progress all competing for your limited attention and each going nowhere fast.

So, which of your many projects do you select? You need to reduce down to the one project that is essential to take you forward. Easier said than done. You can probably see right away something you really need to do in your business, and a couple of things you can put on the back burner for now. But, more than likely there are another couple of things you are working on that you feel are kind of important, these are the hard ones to decide to park, especially if you have already invested effort. Time to be objective. Are you sticking with these because they are pet projects? because you have already sunk effort into them? or because they will take your business to the next level? If you score your projects out of 10, its easy to see the low scorers, which you need to eliminate or the one that scores 9 or 10. Chances are you will have a couple that also score 7 or 8. These are the hard ones to eliminate. But if you aren’t making progress and you want results you must take the tough decision.

Keep it simple – Even when you choose one project don’t over complicate things – Less is more

Once you have the one thing you have decided to focus on then keep it simple. Parkinson’s Law suggests work expands to fill the time available to do it. Beware, this is a trap you must not fall into. Now that you have eliminated things, don’t make the one project you are working on bigger simply because you have more space to do it in. Stick to the essentials, and what is absolutely necessary. As you come to plan for the next 100 days, if four actions are sufficient to get a result then don’t plan in the fifth.

I personally love the concept of minimum viable product. Think about the outcome you want, then think about the way you are going about it. How much can you pear back and still have something worthwhile?

Session 3 – The practical bit

Hopefully you are already thinking about priorities. Much of this session is about reflection and asking yourself searching questions. Only you know whats going on in your life and business. Take time to reflect on your priorities, the results the balance wheel produced, and your review of the last 90 or 100 days. Where does the focus need to be?

Understanding what’s most important in your business right now will take a little thought. For example many businesses will say “I need more sales” but often this isn’t the full picture. Does the next 100 days need to focus on getting more leads, or is the issue converting leads into sales. Maybe the issue is product, and the focus should be on getting new product to market that you can up sell or cross sell to your current customers. This issue might be systems and automation, do you need to systemise what you are doing now before you move on to pastures new?

Sometimes its obvious what to do next, but if it isn’t there’s a great free tool you can use: The Business Health Check.

The business health check helps you prioritise the most important things.

Sometimes there’s so much going on around you that you don’t know where your priority needs to be. We’ve built  the Business Health Check ito help you decide where your energies need to be channelled next and what should be the top of the list. Our Business Health Check gives you a way out of overwhelm, and helps you see the wood from the trees.

Set aside 30 minutes and take the Business Health Check now You can take the Health Check by following this link.

The Business Health Check helps you identify what’s constraining your business.

Most of us want to grow our businesses, but breaking through to the next level isn’t easy. There’s often a barrier in the way that’s difficult to break through. Every business will be constrained in some way or other. It might be lack of business owner’s time. Maybe you don’t have sufficient leads, You might be running out of capacity. Our business health check helps you identify where the barrier is and lets you start the process of removing the constraint.

The Business Health Check helps you maximise the market value of your business

Most of us want to grow our businesses, but breaking through to the next level isn’t easy. There’s often a barrier in the way that’s difficult to break through. Every business will be constrained in some way or other. It might be lack of business owner’s time. Maybe you don’t have sufficient leads, You might be running out of capacity. Our business health check helps you identify where the barrier is and lets you start the process of removing the constraint.

A healthy business is also a valuable business, that potentially might have a strong market value. Its a good idea to build your business with an eventual sale in mind. The things that maximise value can’t be put in place overnight, they are a product of the way you build the business over an extended time period. That doesn’t mean you have the intent to sell the business, but it gives you the option.

Business value is a combination of lots of factors, and some of the key ones we consider in the Business Health Check are:

  • Whether your business is standardised into specific products or is offering a service that is highly customised to the needs of each individual client
  • Your strength of position in a specific niche & the uniqueness of your business offer
  • The rate of growth of your business, and the ability to scale should significant new investment be available.
  • How strongly are you, the business owner, linked to your products and services in the eyes of the customer.
  • Whether your business is too reliant on individual customers or employees

The Business Health Check helps you maximise business satisfaction

Many of the things that improve the value of your business will also improve your personal satisfaction and happiness. If your  business is dependent on your direct involvement in just about everything, then this will lead to stress and worry. That doesn’t mean to say that putting the right resources around you is the cure for everything. So the Business Health Check looks at a number of factors related to stress, happiness, purpose and sense of fulfillment.

The Business health check is an online questionnaire. You can take the Health Check by following this link. There are 40 questions, spread across 8 key areas. These are:

  1. Business strategy and planning
  2. Financial management
  3. Sales and marketing
  4. Customers
  5. Processes and procedures
  6. Business team (or business support if you work alone)
  7. Business happiness
  8. Resilience and business continuity

Answers to questions drive a score for each of the 8 areas, and these are combined to give an overall score. We use a red, amber green traffic lighting to highlight where it would appear attention is most needed,

The initial score is available on screen as soon as you complete the Business Health Check, and this is also e-mailed to you along with a record of your answer to each question.

We discussed the Business Health Check in Episode 28 of The Next 100 Days Podcast

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