When I ask small business owners about the challenges of taking their business to the next level there are usually three standard answers
- I need help setting goals that will get me there
- I need more sales, can you help me?
- I’m too busy keeping the business going to find time to take it to the next level.
All three are very much inter related. But its the third one that is usually the biggest problem. Today, ask yourself the question: “Are you too busy to realise your goals?”
Firstly there’s a recognition that there is somewhere to take the business, but the business owner doesn’t know what to do different to get there; plus, he’s too busy doing just about everything in the business to be able to take on anything new. Of course, if there were just a few dollars more in sales coming through the door he’d be able to pay someone else to do some of these important tasks, and he could concentrate on taking the business forward
Any of that sound familiar?
Caught in a trap? Well, we have to break into the vicious cycle somewhere.
Help to set goals can be given quite readily, but having goals and a strategy is one thing, implementing it is something else. The implication of setting goals will usually be doing things differently or doing some completely new things. The only way you can create capacity to do these new things is stop doing some of the old ones. This applies to anyone in leadership or responsible for taking areas of the business forward. It’s no different whether you are a one man organisation, a company with 50 staff, or a big national or multinational organisation.
So, how do you create space to do these new activities? You need to stop doing stuff. Actually, this can be great news, suppose for a moment you got up in the morning and the day was filled with the stuff you really enjoyed doing. Well, its possible, her’s a simple system:
You need to get some paper and create 4 lists.
List 1 – The stuff that I do, or try to do, that I’m really not competent to do
List 2 – The stuff that I do that I’m OK at, but I really should delegate to a specialist.
List 3 – The stuff that I do that I’m really good at, but someone in my place shouldn’t be doing
List 4 – The stuff that really plays to my strengths and that’s key to doing my job.
Most small business owners will have lots of stuff on list 1. This stems from I need something, therefore I better work out how to do it. The small business owner usually starts off as a one man band, and as a result he does just about everything in his business. He develops a mentality that means as the business grows he still does most stuff. Well here’s the truth, there’s no such thing as a jack of all trades, and the business owner doesn’t have super hero powers.
List 2 is usually all about cost. I’m guilty of this a lot, and I’ll do stuff myself when someone else could do it in half the time.
Theres other stuff that will be harder to give up, theres stuff you do in your job that you are good at, even quite like doing it, but you know in your heart of hearts you just shouldn’t be doing it. I’m an accountant, and prepare my own accounts and my own tax, but I know I should really pay someone else to do it. The things on list 3 will be the most challenging to break free from
List 4 on the other hand is the stuff we should focus on, the stuff we are good at. the stuff that really adds value. If you are struggling with this list, then a good place to start is making sure you know what your strengths are. Gallup’s Strenthsfinder 2.0 is a great tool for this. Check out my review if you want to know more.
Starting with list 1 you now need to take action and off load stuff. there are lots of alternatives: Hire an assistant, delegate, outsource specific tasks.
So, do you have an answer? Are you too busy to realise your goals?