We all want our businesses to do well, and I'm going to share just how to do that. Why?
Some of us depend on our work to provide for our families. Taking a hit in my small business affects our vacation plans, for example, or even whether we can enroll our children in the homeschool courses that they want.
So, what does it require to take your business from start up to success? And how do you manage to continue competing with all the similar businesses out there that seem to be crushing it and doing so well year after year?
There is a tricky balance that must be achieved if you ever hope to make it as a small business owner. And, let's face it: we want to do what we want to do, and that may mean we skip essential parts of feeding and growing our companies. That's why I have found it essential to follow a plan that carefully carves out the most important parts of business survival and have allocated each part with its fair share of my very, very busy work week.
Let's take a look at each of them:
This is the essence of what you sell or provide in your business. If you blog, producing would mean writing blog posts. If you make jewelry, it's stringing together beads or hammering copper. If you tutor, it's sitting down and reviewing Spanish verbs with your students.
Production, in my opinion, should take up a good portion of what you do each day. If you don't produce, you can't sell anything, and that's not good business. I try to keep production at around 30% (more during the busy times, such as holidays.) Production needs to happen on a regular basis, regardless of whether it feels like you need to.
Have you finished all your client work for the week? Good. Produce anyway. Here are some ideas:
- Write blog posts for a time when you might fall ill
- Create some swipe files for use in social media, your newsletter, or on your website
- Make up some sample articles that you can give away for free to your subscribers
Get the idea? Even if you don't have an editor breathing down your neck for the next article, write anyway. You must commit to spending ample time in production -- no matter what you create!
Production should take up a good portion of what you do each day. If you don't produce, you can't sell, and that's not good business.— 1099 Mom (@1099Mom) March 19, 2016
2. OptimizeNow that you have something you've built, created, written, or made, it's good to go back regularly and optimize it. For a blogger, this could be making sure that your blog posts meet all of the guidelines in this ebook. For a jewelry maker, it's upgrading your clasps or trying a new kind of bead. Whatever you make, it's essential that you review all that you've created to make sure that it's the best!
I like to spend about 20% of my time optimizing in my line of work. It's especially important during times that aren't as busy, as it helps me gear up for peak seasons with a product that's the best it can be!
You've likely heard business experts talk about how much time they spend connecting. Some of them talk like it's the only thing they do in their business! To be fair, you should be giving your networking plan a good portion of your daily or weekly attention. I like to spend about 20% of my time growing my network by reaching out.
So what does "connecting" entail? The following tasks can fall under this essential umbrella:
- Pitching new leads
- Using social media to Like, Share, or Comment with influential people or future new customers
- Attending conferences (virtual events count, too!)
- Endorsing or recommending others on LinkedIn
- Sending an email to an old business contact
- Chatting on the phone about anything industry-related
Note that it can be easy for your "connecting" time to turn into goof-off time. If you're using social media, be sure that you're zeroed in on only using it to connect for business. No endless hours of memes or ridicule of Comic Sans.
Now, I'm going to be totally honest with you and admit that I spend a lot of time "thinking" about learning. I don't, however, really get down to the actual learning part.
I think a lot of us are guilty of this. You have purchased an Udemy course, downloaded some free training videos, or even put hundreds of dollars down on a course. But have you actually used it? And are you regularly taking steps to improve your business by learning things that will count?
I'm guessing that you may be like hundreds of business owners I've talked to over the years and have every good intention of growing your knowledge. You're execution, however, is probably terrible.
Make the commitment now to spend 10-15% of your business time learning new things. Here's how I would do it:
- Start with free resources. Find the best/most popular blog in your industry and read it regularly. If you want to spend 10% of your day learning, this would mean checking out the feeds for your favorite free learning sites while drinking your morning coffee. Stay focused!
- Look into modestly-priced paid options. If you're really wanting to go big with learning, you can pay for it. I wouldn't pay more than $20-50 to start out. This is just the right price for an Udemy course, a well-written ebook, or even a half hour session with a trainer or consultant.
- If you've exhausted all the smaller options (which I'm guessing can't really be done), move on to a bigger course or commitment. You can attend a conference or enroll in more professional course. These can be good options for taking your game to the next level, when you're ready!
Now that you know all that goes into a solid business, take a hard look at your typical workday. Do you tend to focus solely on any one (or two) of the above business foundations? Are you guilty of ignoring one completely?
ACTION ITEM: Make the commitment now to spend 10-15% of your business time learning new things. pic.twitter.com/zJgiyDGPPb— 1099 Mom (@1099Mom) March 19, 2016
Making It Right
You have the chance to honestly assess your business goals and take the chance now to bring them in line. I would highly recommend using a tool like Toggl to track your every task for a week or more and see just what you are spending your time on. Are you overly focused on pitching your media kit? Do you produce and never promote? You'll find that a good mix of all four of these practices can take you to new levels!