In part 1 of How to be a Productive Business Owner we talked about how we could get things done, In this post we will look specifically at plannig. It can take a lot of planning to be a productive business owner, but it’s an essential task for the success of your business and once you have taken the time to learn some simple and effective methods of planning it will quickly become a natural task for the operation of your business. The following tips will help in creating goals and implementing strategies to see them realized along with maintaining the motivation to keep yourself on track.
- Set short-term and long-term goals
Goal setting is a must in every area of your life. As the old adage goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived. Having a clear picture of what you want from life, in the short, medium and long term will keep you motivated and energized to take action. Start the process by asking yourself the following key question:“What do I really want to do with my life?”Start from a blank sheet of paper and don’t let limiting beliefs about a lack of money or time get in the way of your thinking. Make the assumption that there is nothing that can get in the way of you achieving what you want to achieve. Think about your goals and write them down using the SMART system of goals setting as outlined below:
- Brainstorm strategies to achieve your goals
Once you’ve defined some short-term and long-term goals you’ll want a list of possible strategies to achieve the results you’re looking for. Create a list of strategy options that encompass various alternatives you could use deliver the results you’re looking for. Move beyond your comfort zone and think of any wild idea that comes to mind – you want a large list of ideas to work with. Keep this whole list to refer to in the future, but pick a few ideas from the list to schedule in and add to your To Do list now.
- Strive for greatness and don’t compromise
I’m sure you’ve heard of many stories about people achieving great success online. Perhaps you’ve even thought that they had something you didn’t or were in a better position to start with than you. Or maybe you even discredited the story as some marketing ploy and their ‘rags to riches’ story wasn’t true at all. While there are a lot of schemers out there, there are also a lot of people that have genuinely focused on a goal and worked hard and smart to achieve it. You can do it too.You can achieve whatever great things you put your mind to. When you’re adding value to other people’s lives, it’s just a matter of making a plan, getting organized and never giving up until you can make your mark in whatever area is meant for you. Don’t just settle for affiliate sales (although these sales are a nice bonus) and earning money from the success of others. That’s what being an employee is all about and if you’re interested in working online than you have already made the decision to be your own boss. Find your niche, explore the opportunities and don’t settle for a mediocre business that doesn’t have a soul. Don’t compromise on your opportunity for greatness!
- Counteract procrastination
Procrastination is one very bad habit. It affects most self-employed people from time-to-time due to the fact that there’s not always someone expecting you to produce something. It’s fueled by fear, lack of confidence, and disorganization. Putting things off is a sure way to produce an ineffective business. Beat procrastination by building up new habits that make you get tasks done, like scheduling in time to do the things you’ve put off. Habit breaking and making takes about 21 days to take effect, so keep this in mind as you’re struggling to stop your learned habit of procrastination and creating a new habit of getting things done.
- Grow from the accountability effect
Create accountability in your work life by joining or creating a group of like-minded entrepreneurs where you share plans, ideas and goals in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings. You can also gain this same effect with a one-on-one accountability relationship. This type of set-up creates an inner desire to report back the results of your objectives and gives you that little extra incentive to get your plan in action. Additional benefits of being accountable to others are: gaining inspiration from the insights of others, being in the position to assist others in their business focus, and developing deep and trusting relationships.
- Use the power of your mind to your benefit
The human mind is an extremely powerful tool in your business and we’re not talking about intellect. The sub-conscience mind is your motivator, your dreamer and your source of productivity. It can also be your discouragement, your criticizer, and your source of inactivity. Used properly, the power available in your mind will have an extraordinary effect on your life and your business. Keep your thoughts positive, keep them creative and, most importantly, keep away the damaging and defeating thoughts that are passed on by your environment!
- Create flexible schedules and adaptable to do lists
Unless you’re the type of person that loves to stick to a specific routine and can adhere to a strict schedule, then you’ll really want to cut yourself a bit of slack and create schedules and to do lists that allow for shifting of times, and deferring tasks. Working from home can involve work time getting delayed from the original plan and projects taking longer than anticipated. Just be aware of not letting work always get put on the back burner, which is very easy to do in home office. Working from home does allow for a different approach to planning and scheduling.When creating a schedule for a day, week, or month in advance (whatever is the best process for you) don’t schedule the whole day hour for hour. For example, plan for marketing tasks Monday morning, website maintenance Tuesday afternoon, social media tasks Thursday evening, etc. Whenever you have for time for business block it out for the morning, afternoon or evening instead of 9-11am.
Use online resources to create a schedule
It only seems appropriate that your online business should use online resources. This is effective as you can keep focused on what you need to do with a click into a browser instead of switching your focus to paper, another program or another device. This is also great for anybody that happens to use more than one computer or device for their work as you can quickly access your schedule, as long as you’ve got an internet connection, which is necessary for your business anyway.Google Calendar is a great option for this. You can sync Google Calendar with an iPhone or Android device and set it up to notify you in different ways of upcoming entries in your schedule. Create a strict or casual schedule – whatever you feel is best for you – and if you tend to like the paper approach you can print off your schedule as well. As with most Google products, it’s quite customizable to your preferences.
Use online resources to create a To Do List
All the little jobs that you want to do or need to get done should be written down on a list. This list will be comprised of thoughts and ideas that pop into your head, tasks to do to move toward your goals and regular tasks that you need to do in the operation of your business. Using an online program for this has the same benefits as using an online calendar.Trello is a flexible and user-friendly option for organizing your ideas and projects in one area. You can create many boards and different organizations, which is very helpful when you want to start a new project in your business. A board consists of a 3 column listing of “To Do” “Doing” and “Done” (which you can change the names of) and you can add in comments, checklists, due dates, files and customize to your liking in several different ways. You can also share a Board or Organization with other people, so you can collaborate with others on a project and see what’s been done, who has done it and what needs to be done. It’s also beneficial to share your task list with some that can simply check up on your progress to add that bit of accountability motivation.
- Make it official and make a business plan
Many home businesses never get the benefit of a well thought out approach to operations and expectations. Although business plans are especially popular for those who are in search or financing, every person that would like to make money with their business should have spent the time creating some type of business plan. You don’t need to focus on the financial details as much as a traditional plan would, but you want to create a plan of how your business will operate and what the products and/or services are. A business plan makes you think about various parts of running a business and clarifies its viability in the marketplace. It may also force you to think of a more viable business venture if your original idea does look as good written down as it did in your head. The Internet is full of great resources to assist you in creating an effective business plan.
- See each day as a fresh start to your business
Don’t let any set-backs from yesterday or any point in the past allow you to judge your effectiveness for today. Only focus on what did work and what has been going well for you so far and leave all the negative stuff behind you. Each day will have a new plan of attack that you use to your advantage in building your business. Frustration and defeating thoughts are BIG productivity stealers and have no place in growth of a business.
- Create a small routine to get you “in the mood” to work
If you were leaving home to go to work, you would have a transition period of getting ready for work at home and traveling to a location and then settling into your work space. When working within your home, you need to create some type of routine that becomes a sub-conscience signal for your brain to get focused on work. As an example, you might prepare yourself a drink (coffee, tea, smoothie), bring it into your work area, turn on some non-vocal music, then read a book on personal and/or professional development for 15 minutes.
- Make a Today List
Similar to a To Do List, a Today List is an informal yet intentional way of thinking about what you want to accomplish in your day. Get yourself a pad of sticky notes of whatever size you would like to be able write down daily tasks. You may want to consult a ‘master’ To Do list or some type of schedule that you have created to be aware of what your overall tasks are. Write down short, to the point notes of what you plan to accomplish in your day then stick this somewhere where you can easily glance at it throughout the day. You can add to this list as the day goes on as you might think of a phone call you need to make or new task that comes up. The most important part of this exercise is the conscience thinking about your day and writing down your intentions as you begin working. This little list should get chucked at the end of the day and don’t make any judgments on yourself about whether you did what you had planned to at the beginning of the day or not. Start a new list at the beginning of a new working day. If there are tasks that you want to remember to do that didn’t get done from your Today List then just transfer them to your schedule or business To Do List.
- Do the small but essential tasks first
Attending to email, making phone calls or updating your social media accounts may be possible essentials that need daily attention. They are also things that can be distracting if you are returning to them throughout your working time so that is why it is effective to do these jobs to begin with and possibly to finish off with as well. You will likely have other responsibilities that fit into this category, depending on the type of business you run – think of all those little things you do that take focus away from other jobs.
- Don’t get caught up on getting everything perfect
Many precious hours can be wasted on spending too much time perfecting something. Although you want to portray a certain level of professionalism, don’t be overly concerned with getting the perfect look, the perfect words or the perfect plan. You can always add something on your To Do list if you’re not really satisfied with how it initially worked out. This allows you to at least complete the task at hand and move on to other productive tasks.
So far in this shoirt series on how to be a productive business owner we have discussed 15 ways to get more done, and 15 ways to organize your business. In part 3 we will focus on creating balance in your life that will directly influence your business.
Till Next time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor