You run a small business, and you're busy all the time. Every day you start with the best of intentions, but you get distracted by unexpected intrusions. When the day is over and you feel like you got nothing accomplished, it feels like you're running in place.
This hamster wheel situation is a classic small business entrepreneur problem that impedes your business growth: You're actually so busy doing in the immediate term, you're not allocating time to think, plan, and strategize about the longer-term. In other words you're working in your business instead of on it. Here's how you can achieve more overall success and balance.
Just like you make an appointment with your family doctor to check on your health, you need to make appointments with yourself to ensure your business stays healthy. You should do this at least once a month, and the time should be fixed on your calendar.
DO NOT CANCEL THIS APPOINTMENT! You must let everyone involved – vendors, your customers, your staff, your family – know that you cannot be contacted during this time. You are making a commitment to yourself and you need to stick to it.
Do you even have your goals in writing? Have you created SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based)? Have you created a business plan? If you don't have these tools at the ready, start working on your business by creating them. If you do have them, revisit them to see how you're faring or if anything needs revising.
Create an annual calendar and list all the major milestones you need to hit based on your business and marketing plans and their respective deadlines. Consider initiatives like sales forecasting, customer surveys, competitive assessments, fiscal health reviews, competitive analysis, and workforce scenarios. Then work backwards from these deadlines, looking at what tasks and lead time you need to "bake into" your calendar.
Another classic entrepreneur problem is the inability to let go of tasks that others can do (probably more effectively than you can). Don't let the misconception that “I can do it faster and cheaper" be the reason you don't delegate these tasks. And these days, you can so reasonably outsource work to experts on Fiverr, that the “faster" part of that statement can be easily proven false.
As the business owner, you can too easily give yourself a hall pass and not do the strategic work you say you're going to do. Instead, give the tough job of holding you accountable to someone who won't easily back down. You may even want to hire someone like a virtual assistant or a business consultant specifically for this duty. Mastering the formula of working on as well as in your business will help you get off the treadmill and make real forward progress towards growth.
Do you have any stories of how you learned to work on your business? Share them below!