Focus has come up a lot recently, in teleseminars I’ve been listening to and newsletters I’ve read, so I thought it was worth exploring the topic further. Here are 5 Tips that I’ve picked up, to help you get the focus back in your business.
1) Focus on what you love doing, what you do best, and what you can add most value to in your business
Do you find yourself wasting time doing things that someone else could do better, or more cost-effectively? This is a trap that all business owners fall into in the beginning, when there are no funds to get someone else to help out. To get the most out of being in business, you need to focus on the tasks that only you have the specific skills, talents or experience to do – in other words, the tasks where you can add most value – and bring in other people to do the things you either can’t or don’t want to do.
I know you’re probably thinking: “well, that’s all very well – but I still can’t afford to get help in”. Assuming that’s true, what things are you doing that you could automate? For example, last weekend I finally got round to ordering my groceries on-line, having talked about it for I don’t know how long. Now, instead of wasting an hour going to the supermarket, putting stuff in the trolley, taking it out of the trolley, putting it back in the trolley, taking it to my car… I simply choose what I want on-line, and a nice man delivers it to my home! (Forgive me, if you’ve been doing this for yonks! I used to do it when I had a corporate job, but for some reason I lost the habit once I started my own business. I think I had convinced myself that I enjoyed browsing round the aisles…)
Value your Time
Joking aside… Work out how much your time is worth per hour, then ask yourself: are there any tasks where you would save money if you got someone else to do them? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard successful people say that their business really started to take off once they got some help. Personally, I delegated my accounts from Day 1, and I’ve been in discussions with a VA for a couple of months now. The problem is, I’m such a control freak that it’s difficult to delegate things I could do myself, in case someone else doesn’t do the task EXACTLY how I would do it. (Perhaps I’d better warn my prospective VA!)
2) Focus on the 20% of actions that get 80% of the business results
You may be familiar with Richard Koch’s books: The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less and Living the 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More. Both books use as their foundation the Pareto Principle, which states that “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”.
In business terms, this means that 80% of your revenue is likely to come from around 20% of your clients. So you need to ask yourself: how much time are you spending with your best clients, compared with the time you’re potentially wasting on people who will either never buy anything from you, or will only buy very little?
When is a client not a client?
The tendency is to think that ANY prospect could become a client. However, some people will never become clients, no matter how much time you lavish on them. If you’re not a good fit for what they want, or if their first question is “how much is it going to cost?”, it may be better to let them go, or refer them on to a colleague who’s a better fit or who doesn’t charge as much as you do. Otherwise you could waste a lot of time trying to persuade them to become a client when, actually, there’s someone else just round the corner who’s eager to work with you, if only you would contact them!!
Think of it as being like the quest for a life partner. It may be true that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet the handsome prince – but the less time you spend hanging out with slimy amphibians, the better.
3)Focus on actions that are aligned to your business goals
This probably sounds obvious – I mean, why would you spend time doing things that weren’t aligned to your business goals? You’re in business, after all – right? But it’s amazing how much time slips by without you noticing (or is that just me?) if you don’t figure out what you need to get done each week.
Shut out Resistance
If you’ve set your targets for the month, but you’re resisting doing whatever is necessary to achieve those goals, then you’re not focusing on the actions that are aligned to your business goals. It’s as simple as that. And it’s easy to get distracted (resistance) if you’re not clear about what you need to do NOW to achieve your targets.
Take one action per day
Identify daily and weekly actions that will make your monthly targets inevitable. Then take at least one action every day towards getting new prospects for your business. Much the same as with exercise, or learning to play the piano, the key to success in business is to take consistent action, and to follow through with that action until you reach your goal.
Stay on course
This one can be pretty tough, but it’s important not to allow yourself to get blown off-course – whether that’s through listening to the doom and gloom stories on the news about the current economic situation, or allowing illness or family crises to get in the way of building your business.
4) Focus on taking time out of the business
Your business is your ticket to freedom – and by that, I don’t mean make tons of money and then retire. There needs to be a balance. You need to be enjoying working in your business, and you also need to plan days off – whether that’s every week, or once a month. And those days off are just for you, to give you a chance to unwind, forget about the business, forget about clients and problems. It’s a chance for you to re-energise and get inspiration.
Time is more precious than money
The mistake that many of us make is that we think it costs us more to hire someone to help us out, than to do the work ourselves. But the problem is that we only have a finite amount of time, Regardless of how much you’re earning now, there is always the possibility of earning more – but you’re never going to be able to make more time. So treat it like a precious jewel. Treasure it. Don’t squander it. Enjoy it. And reap the rewards of taking time out to re-focus.
Plan for time off
According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz in The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, it’s important to have what they call “regular structured recovery” time. This is where intense effort is balanced by deep recovery time, where you turn off your e-mail and phone, and make yourself unavailable to anyone. Go for a walk in nature, book yourself in to a health spa – whatever it takes for you to relax completely and re=charge your batteries.
5) Focus on the 4 key business functions
In a nutshell, there are really only 4 activities which you need to focus on to achieve your business goals. If you can spend more time on these than on other activities, your business will thrive:
For example building a list on-line, stimulating enquiries through networking or cold calling, getting referrals from past clients or complementary businesses.
In other words having a conversation with an interested party and finding there is a fit between what they want, at a mutually agreeable price, and what you can offer.
Whether your business deals in products or services, once the sale has been agreed, you need to spend some time delivering the agreed product or service to the client.
This is an area which some business owners leave to chance, to their cost (literally). It’s important not only to invoice on time, but also to chase up payments, otherwise it affects your cash flow and deflects your focus from getting new clients.