It’s that time again when people are looking to the new year ahead, maybe even thinking of one or two New Year resolutions. Exercising more, losing weight and generally getting back in shape are pretty common goals, but not everyone follows through. We all know the benefits of exercising, however life, work, and other commitments tend to get in the way of our personal fitness.
But what about your business? How’s your business fitness?
Any business coach will tell you how important it is to spend time working on improving your business. But when it comes to small business, this is much easier said than done. At ServiceM8, we hear from small business owners and operators every day, and the one thing they share most in common is how busy they are.
Some are overwhelmed, but most are just time poor and very, very busy. If it’s not doing the work the business requires to make money, then it’s doing what’s required to make sure they get more work. And if they’re not doing either of these things, then they’re busy trying to get paid for work they’ve already done. This cycle of tasks takes up so much of a small business owner’s time.
And if you get bigger, there’s more work, more staff, more customers, more everything. If you get smaller, there’s more work you need to take care of yourself. Running faster and longer isn’t the answer, it’s the path to burnout.
So, you need to make the time to find ways to work smarter and grow better. Just like investing time in your personal fitness, you need to invest time in your business fitness. Systems, processes, staff, how you work, how you get more work, how you get paid for work – everything can be continuously improved.
Most business owners know what the problems are. They are the issues you tell yourself you really need to sort out one day, or when someone you trust asks you “Why don’t you do X, Y, or Z?”, and you say “I will, I will, when I have the time!”. This is what business fitness is all about.
So, here are five tips to rescue the time to work ON your business, and how to go about it:
1. Get savvy with your time management.
Finding the time to work on your business means rescuing time from other parts of your day. The internet is full of blogs and articles with great time management tips, like:
- Keep track and place the utmost value on your time. Constantly prioritise tasks and ask yourself “Is this the best use of my time?”
- Make the most of the time/s during the day when you have the most energy and best mental state.
- Train up your staff, then delegate more.
- Restrict or eliminate unimportant phone calls, emails, and low-value activities.
- Learn to say ‘No’ to tasks and people that don’t add value to your business.
- Embrace technology and tools that save you time and maximise your efficiency (like ServiceM8!).
2. Commit to using your newfound time.
Approach the challenge of spending time on your business like you would getting personally fit i.e. commit to some regular business exercise. Perhaps set aside one hour a week at first. One hour where you will work on something in your business that is important, but not urgent. One thing that will help you win more work, boost productivity, save money, improve quality, or grow your brand – anything that improves your business and where it’s heading. Make a list, prioritise it, and tackle each item one at a time.
3. Communicate your business fitness regime.
Make your staff aware of your business fitness routine. Block out your calendar, turn off your phone, close your door. Communicate the importance of this activity to your staff, to give yourself the best chance of not being disturbed, and avoiding the excuse of busying yourself with the never-ending cycle of small business tasks.
4. Work the problems with your inner Help Desk technician.
Approach your business goals and problems like a help desk technician would.
The reason you might not have already ticked off items on your list is not just because you don’t have the time – it’s because they’re not easy, and there are always roadblocks. In small business, tasks only get attention if they’re moving forward. If they stop, small business owners typically give them a really good push, and if that doesn’t keep it moving forward, they’ll inevitably task-switch to something else, because small business owners must keep moving and get something done.
The trick here is to use your business fitness sessions to solve problems and see things through. Enter your inner help desk technician! Help desk technicians first seek to understand, then to be understood. They focus on the root of the problem, ask questions, investigate, research, and systematically work through the situation until the roadblock is cleared.
Use your inner help desk technician to work your problems, explore options, and come up with good solutions to issues that, if solved, can leap your business forward.
5. Dress for the occasion.
Just as joggers and gym-goers dress in their colourful activewear, so must you dress for your business exercise. Go out and buy yourself a thinking cap. Be it a baseball cap, beanie, beret, bowler, fascinator, fedora, sombrero or scarf, you need one (or something like it). Something you can place on your desk, or in plain sight, to wear during your fitness sessions. Something that is always asking you to put it on, to be creative, to get inspired, to progress.
With your thinking cap on every week, you can build a better, fitter business.
So this New Year’s, why not make a resolution to invest in your business fitness?