By Jennifer Bleam, MSP Sales Revolution
Owning a business means there are always broken things to fix. People, process, systems – they each need improvement in some way. Therefore, you focus on the correct things, or you’ll be spinning in circles, not driving toward your ideal business.
You also must find joy in the journey toward improvement; that journey will never end until you retire or sell your business. Another way to put this: something will always be broken. The job of a business owner is one of optimization. So enjoy the never-ending “to do” list.
If you don’t have a clear vision for what you want your business to look like in three to five, take some time to get clarity on this first. Do you want to be able to take Fridays off, or take a month off each year? Do you want a small number of boutique clients or a very large number of clients? Do you want a team of three? 10? Or can you envision yourself with a team of hundreds? Do you have certain revenue goals or philanthropic goals?
Take the time to define this, so you take small steps toward that “true north” every single quarter. Without a clear vision, you will still spend a quarter; you simply won’t spend it on the things that move you closer to your vision.
It’s important to always know your Number One Priority. This helps keep you focused. Our brains are giant heat-seeking missiles. They work best when success is clearly defined. They can then show us solutions that help us arrive at success much faster than if we were unclear with our priorities.
A simple example to show you the power of knowing your priorities is when you attend trade shows. You know that after heading back to the office, you will receive many phone calls from the plethora of vendors who attended – even though your single sole priority right now might be lead generation. Imagine the power (and the professionalism) to be able to tell the vendor, “I do not need your product or service right now. I am hyper-focused on lead generation. I might be interested in 9-12 months. Feel free to call me back then.” The time savings you gain (from both focusing on the task at hand while ignoring the things that aren’t today’s focus) are exponential.
It’s critical to know which part of your business is the most in need of repair, so you can focus a significant amount of your time, energy, and effort on “fixing” that single part of your business. While nothing is ever “finished,” you will make significantly more progress by focusing on one item at a time than by juggling 12 major initiatives simultaneously.
Note that if you have a small team, you can likely focus on three core areas at once. However, a wholehearted focus on one single area of your business will yield better results than focusing on three items. The other two can (and likely will) wait until the next quarter.
To discover your company’s challenges, think about the four core business functions (marketing, sales, operations, and finance). List the top two issues under each of these categories. Likely a central issue will emerge as the clear culprit, which is impacting the growth of your business, being a bottleneck to other functions, or crushing the smooth delivery of your service. Simply by taking a few minutes to think about this your biggest challenge yields clarity and makes you more efficient with your time. So many of us don’t stop to think. We simply do, and do more tomorrow, and complete more tasks the next day without stopping to analyze whether the tasks are helping us make forward progress.
I suggest that all of my clients keep an ongoing Issues List. That way, each quarter you’re able to spend brainpower on selecting from that list (as opposed to creating that list.) There is great satisfaction in chronicling each quarter’s success or even sharing a full year’s worth of goals that have been completed. As with all things in business, it’s an ongoing journey to select the correct goals, focus on them for an entire quarter, and then complete them successfully. But if you make this a habit, your skillset will improve; your ability to handle multiple focus areas simultaneously will grow; and your business will begin to transform.
About The Author
Jennifer Bleam is the owner and founder of MSP Sales Revolution, a company dedicated to helping IT companies install scalable marketing and sales systems.