This is the second part of a two-part article. Click here to review Part 1.
It is no secret. We live in a world where there is more to be done than ever before. The gadgets that were created to simplify our lives now also demand our attention to maintain and manage. Living according to priorities is therefore a huge challenge for every one of us.
When was the last time you looked at each area of your life and asked yourself, “How’s my balance?” As a leader, you must determine your priorities. If you don’t, others will gladly fill that void for you with their own priorities. Before long, you’ll be living someone else’s life, and you will have none of your own. Take time every week, every month, every quarter, and every year to check your priorities. Set them and hold true to them. And yes, you will be tested daily. Give yourself permission to say, “No” to those that do not fit within the parameters of your values, priorities, goals, and timelines.
Planning comes secondary to priorities. First, you must focus on the main things (priorities)…and then plan your strategy accordingly. Planning may not come naturally to you, but if you lead a business, planning must be a learned and disciplined habit. Fail to plan, my friend, and you will likely fail. It’s as simple as that.
Now the upside to planning, as my friend Chuck Bowen points out, is that “if you can plan it on paper, you can do it.” So know your priorities, and get out your paper and lay out a plan. That puts you in a very small percentage of people bound for success.
Big businesses know that profit is the bottom line. Everything they do is focused on creating profit. Small business owners often lack this level of focus. Beware…it can mean the difference between having a business that supports you and your goals…and a very expensive hobby. I often hear, “Things will be better when I make this next big sale.”
If you have said this, I urge you to read Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. It starts out with Michael’s story of how he created and sold a multi-million dollar businesses but one day found himself seated at the table, broke. He tells how his little girl went and got her piggy bank and offered it up, saying, “Daddy, we’re going to make it.”
Take your business and your profit seriously. Yes, serve others by all means, but be wise in business as well.
This is one area where small businesses have a leg up on large corporations. Large corporations are like big ships. They can’t turn on a dime. They have layers of bureaucracy to cut through in order to make decisions. They may have to wait for the quarterly board meeting, and it may take more than one board meeting before a final decision is made. There are more players in involved at each level, and therefore more time required to decide and do some things. Now this is not all bad, as we need a certain level of structure in business; but a wise management team will look at the decision-making processes to determine optimum levels of efficiency. Small businesses get this. They are like speed boats and can turn swiftly in a new direction as the market dictates. Small business owners do need to be careful of chasing “shiny objects”. Change your business approach to keep it fresh, but keep your business focus at the core of who you are so as not to confuse your customers.
Take this list seriously. Patrol it daily or at least weekly to ensure you are on track in your business in each of these areas. Ask yourself what is going right in each area and what needs to change. In fact, it is also a good idea to review them in depth once a year in preparation for the year ahead.