September 2009


When was the last time you sat down, took some deep breaths and thought strategically about your business?

bushbreath

The incredible truth is that most business owners do not take any time out to work on their business. Most are way too busy working in the business that they do not STOP regularly to work on the strategy.

“It’s no wonder the statistics for bush business failure are so high”

If this is you the good news is it’s never too late to start working on your business. Try these simple steps to insert “Strategy Time” into your busy schedule.

  1. Go back through your diary and Colour Code the events you have in there. One colour for Administrative type tasks (RED), one colour for revenue generating activities (BLUE) and another colour for when you actually do work on the business (BLACK). Now that you have done this, count up how much time you spent on the business and compare that to admin and revenue type tasks.
  2. Look at all of your non-strategic tasks and objectively and ask yourself if you really need to be doing that task yourself or could you delegate it to someone internally or potentially outsource it.  Some people find it hard to let go but the more ruthless you are at this point the better off you will be. Its better to over delegate than it is to under, but I’ll talk about that in a future blog.
  3. Now set a goal of getting to the amount of time you should be spending on the business, preferably weekly. I like to spend a third of my time working strategically but that might not suit you. Pick a goal and now start planning out the next 4 weeks and add in one third of that  time into each week. eg if you goal is to get to 6 hours per week then add in 2 hours to each week for the next 4 weeks. Add in an additional third into the next 4 weeks after that and in the third month aim for the whole goal.
  4. Once you have reached your target determine if it is enough or if you need more still and then repeat steps 2 & 3.

“A business owner works hard in their business for a wage, an entrepreneur works strategically to build a legacy.”

Which are you?

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Probably the most common issue I see with business owners is they take on too much responsibility in the day to day running of their business. Often necessary when you are starting out but should not be plan going forward.

“Nobody does it as well as I can” they all say.

All well and good but what happens when you can’t be there, you’re sick, you want to go on holidays, you get busy…

The true value in a business is if it will run just as well without you.

Here are a few simple steps to help you achieve this.

  1. Break up your business into major areas such as Sales, Finance, Admin etc
  2. Create a process map for each of these sections so that you (or anyone reading it) can follow it.
  3. Now look at each of the sections of your process map and observe and document how you do it now.
  4. Look at your self documentation and objectively determine if there are any improvements that can be achieved.
  5. Now test the document and see if it works (you do it)
  6. Now hand it to someone else and see if it still works, preferably someone who has never done that process before.

Test the process, measure the results, refine and test again and ultimately LET GO.

Once you get the hang of letting go, also known as delegation, you and your business will prosper.

What’s your biggest barrier to letting go?

“WHAT !!” I hear you scream. “Have you gone insane? How is that even possible?”

In this economic climate, all I hear people saying is that we have to get out and sell more.  Does that sound familiar?

“I have one word for you

….LISTEN”                          Listen more than you talk

Spend some time with your existing customer base and instead of telling them about your new offering, start asking questions and listen for a bit. You’ll be amazed at what they tell you.

There are ample opportunities for you to provide your customers with exactly what they are looking for, if only you knew what that was.

Here are a few ways to help this listening process along:

  • One on One:Call them up and arrange a time to buy them a coffee. Make sure you don’t do all the talking, have a few exploratory questions prepared so that the conversation keeps flowing. This is a time consuming option but you are most likely to get the best responses.
  • Survey:Setup a survey and send them to your customers. Don’t make it too long. You can get to a heap of targeted people quickly but expect many not to respond. Think about adding an incentive to reply to up the response rate.
  • Web Polls: Put a poll on your website. Make it highly visible and make sure you have a great question as typically you can only ask one. The is an effective way to get heaps of responses in a short period of time. The audience is not as targeted but statistically you might get the largest number of responses.
  • Email:My least favourite but still an effective way to get some answers. Personalise the email to the recipiant and make sure it is relevant enough that the person is likely to respond. Again, you might not get as good a hit rate but it is fast and inexpensive to do.

Remember, the key here is to STOP SELLING and LISTEN and you might just surprise yourself as to how much more people will buy from you if your products or services meet their needs.