Make Time to do More than Mark Time
We all know that SME business people are far too busy to work on their business, and focus all their efforts working in it. Exit planning seems impossible when we think we are the business and it can't run without us. When our lifestyle and health degenerates, we feel trapped powerless and stuck. Sound familiar?
Step outside your business and get process driven.
I know this is anything but easy. But I’ve learned the hard way through my own life challenges, that it is absolutely essential.
‘But how can I’ you say. ‘I can’t take a week out to do a business plan? I've got to keep this business running. I’m the person everyone is relying on!’
Try some creative thinking. Imagine yourself walking out of your premises, climbing up on to the roof and taking a look down inside. I know it sounds weird, but it will give you some objectivity and allow you to see your business as separate from yourself.
In your mind’s eye, watch a typical day and note who does what tasks, including how you engage in areas that others might be able to take over, even temporarily. Watch what your time traps and distractions are, or your personal weaknesses, like procrastination. Make some notes. Talk to a business coach, or discuss with a colleague, and work out your strategy for change.
Because this year, like every other, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got – or less, because everyone else out there is moving forward!
Commit to at least one of Catherine's top tips:
- Work out what business you are really in, by the outcomes you create, rather than the services and products you currently provide. Stay abreast of trends and think laterally.
- Know that you own the business, you run the business, but you are not the business. It has to have a life of its own, and it will have, when every process is well documented and standards are well defined. So even though it’s tough, it’s well worth it!
- Divide all activities of the business into ‘departments’ such as sales, marketing, administration and production, even if you’re a micro business. Then document all the processes, even in scribbled summary bullet points. Divide them up into the various ‘departments’. See what you could combine, delegate or outsource. Then be the managing director, rather than everything to everyone.
- Put 10 per cent of income into a reserve for business development. Not necessarily marketing, but also education, strategic planning, consultants, etc. It really does pay off. If your sales fell 10% you’d survive, so just do it.
- Consider adapting, selecting what you're great at and focusing on that, or bringing someone else in to share your business. It might actually be about shrinking, or changing structure.
- Be willing to see yourself and your staff as constant learners, staying in school forever to keep finding newer and better ways of being the best in your field. It’s fun!