As a small business owner, it’s more often than not that you are in charge of most (if not all) the departments in your business.
“Doing-it-all”, “wearing-multiple-hats”...these are mentalities that many entrepreneurs adopt.But you know what’s tough about this type of thinking? If you’re too caught up in the execution of day-to-day business, it’s going to be nearly impossible to grow your business.
Yes, it’s important to keep your business running, but what’s the point of running if it’s in place? In order to remain upwardly mobile, you’ve got to learn to balance execution and strategy.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Here are a few tips for setting aside some time to focus on your business’s big picture.
1. Start Early.
The best time to focus on strategy is first thing in the morning. Before you start thinking about everything you have to accomplish that day, start thinking about what you want your business to accomplish this week, month and year. Do this 30 minutes every morning (that’s all you need if you make it a habit). For the first 15, focus on what you want to do. For the following 15, focus on how you are going to do it. And don’t be overly-ambitious. It could be as simple as focusing on increasing Facebook likes, and taking your 30 minutes every morning for the week to read up on articles to better form an implementation plan. As you create your implementation plan, work it into your current day-to-day. Once you feel you have a complete plan, move on to setting a new goal or strategy for your morning sessions.
2. Make Better Use of Your Current Time.
One of the best ways to balance execution and strategy is the make sure your time “executing” is well-spent. A great way to do this is take about 15 minutes after your morning strategy sessions and focus on what you want to need to accomplish that day. Write down every single thing (even the obvious, like meetings). Once everything is written out, ensure you have included one task that is connected to your morning strategy. Then, prioritize what you have to do for the day. This way, considering everything you have on your plate, you focus simply on what needs to happen that day.
3. Trim the Fat.
According to the Pareto Principle, only 20% of what you do will drive 80% of your outcomes. After you make out your to-do list for the day, look at what you can eliminate from that list that will help you focus on what truly matters (which is that perfect balance between execution and growth). More importantly, are there things that might be necessary, but not worth your time? Is there somebody you can pass this off to? If this person doesn’t exist, is it time for your business to hire? Although it takes time to train and introduce a new person to your business, the amount it can allow you to take off your plate is worth it in the long run.
4. Always Under-Book Time.
Have you ever heard of the Parkinson’s Law, which says “Work expands to fill the time available?” The fact is, if you set the time aside, you’re going to fill it with the work. For example, if you set aside a whole hour for a meeting, you will most likely spend that hour in the meeting. But what if you scheduled it for half an hour? You could make it work, right? By forcing yourself to operate with this mentality, you are going to open up more hours in your work day to focus on growth.
5. “Unschedule” time.
The first 30 minutes in the morning shouldn’t be the only time you think about growth. Aim to leave about one-third of your day unscheduled. This will give you time to complete oddball tasks that may be distracting you, as well give you an opportunity to think more big picture. It will provide opportunities to verify you are devoting the right amount of time to these strategies, that they are working and that you are meeting your goals. As well, take notes throughout the day as you pinpoint ways your business can improve or discover potential growth opportunities. This will assure your morning planning meetings have a pipeline of future ideas.
6. Get the team on board.
If you have employees, you need to include them in pushing the big picture initiative. Set aside some time on Friday afternoons (when everyone’s brain is fried anyways, so it’s not like their time is being wasted). Use this time as a check-in. Set goals at the end of each of these meetings for the next week. Every Friday, make sure these goals are being met. It’s a great way to make sure each strategy you put in place is being successfully executed, and most importantly, that everyone on the team is seeing to it.
Time management is easily one of the most challenging parts of being an entrepreneur. Not only is about finding the time to accomplish everything on your plate, but it’s also making sure you are devoting enough time to each of these things.
It is incredibly easy to sacrifice strategy and growth for the day-to-day obligations of your business. But, if you want to build a business that lasts a lifetime and has a strong base and healthy cash flow, then it must be made a priority. Find a system that works for you and helps you balance these two things. Stick with it. You won’t regret it.