Detox your business

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Wed. 4th January 2017.

At the start of a new year, we often look to make some changes to boost our personal well-being. We take more exercise, think about our diet, drink more water, drink less alcohol or improve our work/life balance. As business owners we might also want to think about how we could ‘detox’ our business and improve how we manage its performance, and therefore also benefit ourselves.


Here are a few thoughts to get you started. It would be great to add your ideas and build the list.


  1. Define your values. Your values are the things that are most important to you from a personal and business perspective. They guide your behaviour and your choices, and they form the basis of your decisions. They define how you treat your customers, and how you lead any employees you may have. If you align your business and personal approach and development with your values, then you’ll feel much more motivated, fulfilled and energised.


  1. Declutter your working environment and get organised. Clear your desk and tidy your office. Throw out or recycle those things you’ve been keeping just in case you’ll need them. Create yourself some space. Review your to-do lists and delete things that you know you’ll never do. Organise your documents into a virtual or physical filing system. Store your invoices, process your receipts, and get your accounting records up to date. Capture details from the relevant business cards you’ve collected over the months and throw the rest away. Set up systems for the main processes you work to, and automate them where you can. If you’ve space, put up a white board to capture ideas as they occur to you.


  1. Focus on where you and others add value. Identify the activities where you really add value and the areas where you don’t. Examine the areas you don’t add value and think whether other people could do those things better and more cost effectively. If practical, outsource activities to other service providers such as Virtual Assistants, Marketing experts or Bookkeepers. If you’ve any employees, could you delegate certain tasks which would allow them to develop? Consider stopping doing some things altogether if they add no value to your business. Don’t waste resources or talent.


  1. Remove distractions and time wasters. Keep a log of how you spend your time for a typical week. Examine how much of that time is spent on distractions that don’t help you run and grow your business. These may include looking at your personal social media, surfing the internet for non-business-related reasons, reading irrelevant emails or attending meetings that don’t add any value. Stop the distractions and time-wasting activities and use that time on actions that will grow your business.   


  1. Set a standard weekly and monthly diary. Define the activities that are important to running and growing your business. These might include marketing, writing social media content, blogs or newsletters, responding to emails, making sales calls, developing new products and services or administration activities. Build these activities into a standard weekly and monthly diary depending on the frequency that the activity needs. Run your standard diary in parallel with your normal working diary. When you’ve nothing scheduled in your working diary don’t waste time deciding what to work on. Simply refer to your standard diary and work on the activity that’s scheduled for that day and time. Treat things in your standard diary as you would a customer meeting. Don’t cancel them or work on something else unless you have a clear reason.


  1. Prioritise what you work on. Prioritise your tasks and activities considering their ‘Importance’ and ‘Urgency’. Important tasks contribute to your long term goals, values and vision and put you into a proactive and positive mode. Urgent tasks require your immediate attention and put you into a reactive and negative mode. This approach is the basis of the Eisenhower Decision Principle which was popularised by Stephen Covey. Categorising tasks and activities into one of four groups will improve how you use your time. It will help you identify what tasks and activities you should focus on and what you should ignore.


  1. Reduce your focus on achieving perfection. Whether you’re writing reports, blogs, books or designing content, recognise when you’ve done enough. Clearly you need to do a good job, but don’t keep iterating and tinkering. Your main messages will be captured in the early stages (the 80:20 rule). Know when to move on to the next activity. There will be a diminishing return in terms of the time and effort you put in to making final tweaks and any improvements that result.


  1. Review your networking activities. When you find networking groups that you think will work for you it’s really important to give them time to build trust with other attendees or members. Attend your chosen groups regularly and don’t expect instant results. However, also regularly review the reasons you attend the groups you do, and the value you’re getting from the events you attend. It can be very easy to slip into a comfort zone after attending sessions a number of times, building relationships and enjoying the experience. But are you getting the returns you expect from your time and financial investment? Are you making the connections you want, and need, to make? You may be happy getting little business return, but the social aspect is really important to you. Of course that’s fine as well, as long as you see some value.


  1. Reduce time spent travelling. Travelling to meetings costs time and money. Consider whether your meeting really needs to be held face-to-face. Rather than meet at your favourite coffee shop, could you hold initial discussions or exploratory meetings by telephone or Skype? You can then decide when to physically meet as it’s important to meet face-to-face to build relationships. Look to combine meetings with other events. For example, you could go to networking sessions earlier or stay afterwards to meet with contacts who are attending the same event.


  1. Set your personal and business goals for 2017. Having personal and business goals gives you focus, direction and motivation. For the maximum benefit, align your goals to your values and your vision of where you want your business to go. Set some goals for different times in the future (e.g. one year goals, six months, three months and one month goals) and use them to drive your weekly activities. Remember to make your goals ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bounded). Also set yourself a couple of stretch goals (or ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goals’) to really drive you and your business forwards.


I hope that doing some of these actions will be useful and help you improve your business as you move into 2017.

Get in touch to talk about how I could help you to develop yourself so you can grow your business.