We are running our August challenge this month. That is where a bunch of our members (and us too) give a metaphoric 2 fingers to the convention that says “August is a quiet month”, and just see what would happen if we all tried to make it our biggest month of the year.
And the results have been really interesting. Whilst not everyone is on for their biggest month this year, almost everyone is already ahead of where they thought they would be.
And it raises a really interesting / obvious question that runs right to the core of our success and failure.
What has changed in their business just by trying to make something happen?
Success in business isn’t a science, I believe every business owner knows what they need to do to make their business the success they want it to be, (even if the thing they need to do is get some help to find that clarity) BUT (and it is a big but) the facts bear out that most business owners never really make it.
So what is stopping them?
I think at a high level the answer is obvious, they are simply not doing enough of the RIGHT STUFF, but that isn’t helpful. To really move forward you need to confront the questions behind this.
Why aren’t they doing the right stuff?
What is stopping them getting it done?
And business owners need to look at this with brutal honesty because if you don’t fix what’s stopping you you’ll never move forward.
I think for many they will be able to come up with lots of reasons, some legitimate, some not but having looked at it in depth I think there are six key reasons that stop people getting stuff done.
1) It’s not important enough.
The thing you are working towards just isn’t important enough for you to be compelled into taking action.
Or, the pain of not getting there isn’t big enough, so it just doesn’t really matter if you make it happen or not.
If you don’t REALLY want what you are trying to do, if the pain of failure isn’t too much to bare – it just won’t happen, and experience tells me it has to be about more than just business.
I remember working with a guy who at the start for the year would go and book a big, expensive, holiday and then head home that night and give the brochures to his kids and tell them when they were going to go.
He then figured out a way of earning the extra money to cover the trip.
But at that point there was absolutely no way he couldn’t deliver, it was unthinkable for him to go back to his kids and say “sorry, daddy didn’t make it happen”.
He picked about the most personal driver possible – and he never missed a target.
What is important enough for you that you would drop everything for? Because if you don’t have that driver behind why you need your business to succeed it just won’t happen.
2) You don’t have a plan (often linked to number 1)
Because you don’t really know where you want to get to, you end up just doing “stuff” without any idea if it is going to help you get to where you want to or not.
You are busy but there is no direction or focus.
Essentially you are stuck and it is often at its worst when you are a couple years into the business.
By that point you are juggling doing the work, with getting clients, you might have grown enough to need staff, which just adds another level of complexity (and work) and for many business this is a real “rabbit in the headlights moment”
You get paralysed and with so many options available to you, you start to confuse activity with productivity
The simple truth is without a plan, a clear set of actions of where to start and what to do, how and in what order you are always going to feel like you are floundering and you are never going to achieve what you want to achieve.
And it is harder now than it has ever been as there are so many different options and tools to spend your time and money.
Just “Growing” a business is impossible to as it is not a ‘tangible’ action. You need to work a plan.
Doing some marketing to generate 20 outbound phone calls, to try and meet with 10 people to secure 2 new clients is easy and crucially – scalable.
If you need 10 clients a year you just need to generate 100 people who you could pick up the phone to.
3) You don’t know enough – you haven’t learned enough
This is a big one – so few people really learn.
Unlike 5 years ago, there are no shortcuts, business marketing and crucially client generation is vastly different from what it was and it continues to change rapidly.
So if you are serious about moving your business forward, you have to keep learning.
Learning about what your clients like and don’t like.
Learning about how to capture their attention.
Learning how to use the tools available to tie it all together.
And a whole lot more…
We have never had a time in business as we do now. The myriad of options mean that it has never been cheaper or easier to drive new business, but because that is the case EVERY market is getting crowded so you need to learn how to make yourself stand out to the people you are trying to sell to or you are just going to disappear into the noise.
5 years ago you could get away with saying something like, “I don’t really get this facebook stuff”. Now every man and his dog is using it to target your loyal customers.
So you need to get yourself in the ring with them and find out what tools you should be using and how to do so in the best possible way to attract the people you want to sell to.
4) You don’t have deadlines
Most people will fill their time with what they have to do,
We all have a “to do” list but experience tells me that very few people have a ‘timed’ to do list, i.e. each task has a start and end point.
As such you can be busy all day, get everything done you said you would – but still find your business not moving further forward.
In the same vain often the deadlines people do have are too far away to necessitate action today.
I see a lot of people who set big financial targets for the year but without any monthly breakdowns the target seems to far away create any urgency of action until it is actually too late.
I like targets, weekly monthly, quarterly, what I want to earn by when. And I make them public so I can be held accountable.
(In line with this – if you are not spending regular time with a group of other business owners you can talk too openly about your business then you need to fid a group fast – I genuinely think it is THE most powerful and helpful thing you can do for your business. )
5) (This is where people start to tell me p*ss off….) You are not fit enough.
This comes from bitter experience.
If I am honest THE crucial factor for me and my ability to get more of the RIGHT stuff done ultimately boils down to the amount of exercise I do.
When I am fitter, everything is easier.
I eat better
I sleep better
I have more energy,
I think clearer, quicker and more creatively (crucial for a marketing strategist!)
I get less stressed
I can handle more things at once.
Everything I do is easier – and my productivity rockets
The simple fact is when you’re not fit – you don’t have the energy.
Your brain isn’t as sharp and simply it stops you working at full capacity
And you need more down time.
As a business owner, what we do isn’t easy it is mentally and often physically challenging – not keeping yourself in decent shape will only make it harder.
It took me a long while to realise it, but now exercise time is in my diary and as important as any other business growth function.
6) You aren’t managing your time well enough
I think this is the most ‘obvious’ option, for most business to point towards – although I actually think it is usually a symptom of one of the other issues.
We are all busy, that is just our world, but when I ask people how much of their time are they spending on moving their business forward – its normally a tiny amount.
A great way to start here is actually write down what you are doing day to day and then at the end of the week, look back at it and see what you are really spending your time doing and ask yourself whether it is really moving your forward.
What of those jobs can only you do, what could be outsourced / given to the team and crucially look at what isn’t getting done.
I did this with a client who was struggling to bring new business in a while back and when we looked at it they were spending absolutely NO time selling at all.
It was all stuff that needed to be done but there was nothing going on to bring in the very much needed money.
They were just filling their time with stuff.
I had a huge learning from my old boss – he was on stage at an event and he said that one day he just realised that he would never get it all done – and so he stopped trying to do it all and just started focusing on “the best thing he could to move his business forward”.
If you want to move your business forward you need to get this, (and it felt like a huge wait from my shoulders) but it also means you need to be ruthless and thoughtful with your time as to what you do actually spend your time doing.
My best advice is to book time in your diary every week for the important jobs. Things like the marketing, the selling the following up etc.
They go in your diary first and then all the other stuff fits around that.
Not only does it mean that this ‘life blood’ for your business is more likely to get done, it is easier on the mind too as you don’t have to think about it and have that “oh sh*t I’ve forgotten…” middle of the night moment as you know that whatever else you have going on in your business the crucial stuff has time booked in your diary already.
What ever you don’t do regularly has a habit of not getting done – get it in the diary first.
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