Podcast Transcript: Welcome to Episode 8 of Grow For It! This is a podcast for small business owners, operators and professionals. I’m Jim and my goal is to work in the space between your ears – you know, on your mindset – to keep you focused on the activities that will move you closer to your Vision.
Today’s episode focuses on the importance of taking time to work “ON” your business, instead of “IN” your business.
Before we get going, let’s review where we’ve been. In Episode 7, we discussed Cultivating Your Brand and tips to begin influencing how the market receives and perceives your brand.
Today, our discussion will cover important activities a small business owner must do to be successful over the long-term. If you’re ready, LET’S GROW FOR IT!
I’m going to be very transparent in today’s discussion. Like most of you, I’m a small business owner. An extremely common challenge for most of us is carving out enough time in the day to handle everything we need to accomplish. This may include:
- Working on current client commitments
- Developing relationships for new business opportunities
- Managing vendors and tasks we’ve assigned to them
- Paying bills and handling internal administrative issues
- Resolving computer or system-related fire drills when they happen (because these nightmares are always pre-scheduled)
- Allocating family-time and social activities so you have a reason to avoid working 20-hours a day
- And then there’s that often-neglected topic of marketing for your business
All of us battle these challenges each day. It’s part of this adventure called entrepreneurship.
We’re all trying to do more with less. Many times, that means we run our businesses with the absolute minimum number of employees – if we have any at all. It’s a generally accepted fact that full-time employees (FTEs) are the most expensive cost to a business. Now, I realize HR professionals are going to argue “good employees contribute added value. You’re investing in talent.” This may be absolutely true. But in the early years, especially, it might not be possible to make those investments, even if you have them under a 1099-status.
What this means is your dream, your Vision, rests fully on your shoulders. This responsibility and the pressure that comes with it constantly temps us to work on tactics, when we really need to be focused on strategy. It’s what I mean when I say, “working ON your business, instead of working IN your business.”
Blocking out time to do this takes discipline. Large companies or law firms may have the luxury of taking executive-level retreats. Sure, you can get a lot done, especially when someone else is covering the cost of your time, others are handling the phone calls and unending stream of emergencies and client requests.
However, for most of us, myself included, that’s simply not our reality. If we’re not at the wheel, the bus might run off the road. Does this sound familiar?
So how do we address this, with the least bit of disruption to our workflow and deadlines? The most important recommendation I can make is to remember something we discussed in Episode 1. Do you recall how I described The Sisyphus Effect?
If you don’t, please pause this podcast. Go back and listen to that section of Episode 1. This is about aligning our activities with our visions. It’s worth the few minutes it’ll take to remind yourself who and what Sisyphus represents.
By the way, if you’re not sure how to get back to the first episode, you can access it on the podcast page on my website: JimRayConsultingServices.com. I’ve pinned Episode 1 to the top of the right side of the page, just above those black buttons.
Now that we’re on the same page about Sisyphus, doing the same thing each day doesn’t usually lead to different results. We have to remember to get beyond the day-to-day habits. We have to be on guard so we’re not just busy, we’re productive.
Running a small business requires having the proper mindset. Namely this: Net profit gives us options.
With net profit on the books, we can expand. We can hire. We can pay bills. We can take a vacation or make that donation. Most importantly, net profit gives us the “privilege” of coming back to fight another day.
Remember friends, it truly is a privilege. Just think about how many of your family members, friends and colleagues will never get the freedom to pursue their visions. It’s truly a gift. The day we refuse to admit this to ourselves, is the day we need to change course and do something else.
I said earlier, it’s a discipline. Let’s break down a few ways you can begin making progress in this area. So as usual, I want you to take out a sheet of paper!
We have to structure time to review the business. Big companies do it, because it works. From a pure business fundamentals standpoint, the numbers don’t lie. Reviewing your metrics, assessing and reassessing your performance verses plan is just smart business.
Let’s list some key activities we should have already scheduled in our calendars:
- Revenue and Expense Reviews – you need to be tracking these monthly and quarterly. Not realizing you’re off the numbers until August is probably too late.
- Schedule time to do end-of-month summaries. Break it down by service or product. Early on, I didn’t do this as thoroughly as I should have in my own business.
- A simple program such as QuickBooks can make your reporting incredibly easy and efficient.
- Marketing and Advertising – even if you don’t believe in these tactics, your current and prospective clients do. More importantly, so does your competition.
- I heard a great statement in a recent Gary Vaynerchuk podcast. He said, “Do you know how scary it is to me that some many of you haven’t done this because of your personal opinion about Facebook? To run your business with your personal romance of how things should be, versus how they are, is literally the great vulnerability of business.”
- If you haven’t launched a social media channel, namely Facebook and/or LinkedIn, it’s time to schedule it. If you need help, find someone who knows what they’re doing and ask for help. Social media can work for you 24/7. You’ve got to sleep some time, but that’s not the same for your marketing.
- Friends, this isn’t one of those, “I’ll get around to it” activities. Seriously, set a date in your calendar. Make it happen!
- Competitive Reviews – when was the last time you actively noticed what your competition is doing in the marketplace? How are they messaging? Are they focusing on certain issues or geography? Have you visited their Facebook page or website? They may be sneaking up and stealing market share you haven’t realized yet.
- Look, I was in sales and sales management for over 20 years. There was nothing I loved better than sending a simple message to one of my competitors with 2 words: “Thank You.”
- Oh, and full disclosure, I received one too. It’s a reminder not to take my eye off the ball.
- Key Vendor Discussions – I mentioned this in Episode 4. There may be new products, programs or other opportunities just sitting there. If we’re not actively asking about them, we’re leaving money – and margin dollars – on the table. Margin dollars enable the net profit I commented about earlier in this episode.
- List your key vendors and contact them this week. You don’t have to wait. You may already be behind.
- Exercise and Checkups – Yes, I’m actually including these as important activities. It’s easy to run ourselves into ground. It took a long time for me to realize how much better I was able to perform and how more clearly I was able to think, once I began exercising.
- Look, you don’t have to go join a gym, although it’s a good idea. Even if you simply take an evening walk after dinner, you’re exercising. You’ll have time to process what went on during the day and clear your head so you can actually get a good night’s rest.
- These things can have significant benefits for you, and those who depend on you. Haven’t spent enough time with your spouse or kiddo? How about taking them for a walk with you?
- Then there’s medical checkups. If you don’t want to go to a doctor’s office, there are many small clinics, even in grocery stores these days. Go in and get a basic work up and maybe some blood work. Guys, this is real life. Your health matters, if not to you, then to your family. Take care of yourself so you can enjoy those things for which you’ve been working so hard. If it means you have to actually schedule it on your calendar, do it! It takes 21 days to form a habit. Trust me, it’ll take less than that to drop a few pounds and generate some added energy.
Before we wrap up, please let me explain that, “I get it.” It’s easy for any of us, including myself, to make excuses for why we don’t have time. Why we’re so busy that we really can’t get around to working on these activities. After all, there’s only 24 hours in a day.
Friends, again I get it. But that’s small-ball thinking. We’ll never break out and really achieve at the levels we’re capable of if we only focus on the tactical grind. We’ve got to structure time for higher-level thinking and planning. The longer we put it off, the further the distance between what we’re achieving and what we actually could have achieved. Don’t cheat your potential.
Well, that does it for now. As always, thank you for deciding to spend a few minutes of your time with me. I want to let you in on an upcoming development. On May 9th, I’m launching a radio program focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. I’ll broadcast on Louisville’s TalkRadio 1080AM and stream globally on the iHeartRadio app. Stay tuned for more information about my program, LET’S GET IT STARTED! You’ll be able to hear each episode on a separate podcast, also available in iTunes and on my website: JimRayConsultingServices.com.
Until next time, remember to allocate time to work ON your business, so you can work more effectively IN your business. When you’re ready, Let’s Grow For It!