When you start your business, you’ll eventually get overwhelmed by all there is to do. You’ll wonder how entrepreneurs get it all done. You’ll wonder if something is wrong with you.
If you’re jumping from a job to entrepreneurship? Well, then the overwhelm might be multiplied, especially if you had a job that allowed you to stay strictly in your skillset and “let marketing handle marketing, let HR handle HR” etc, etc.
Then you begin a business.
Good-bye departments. Hello you.
And hello to a boatload of stuff you CAN do… which — you will soon discover — is very different from the stuff you SHOULD do.
How do you determine the difference?
Well, that’s THE question. And the answer requires that you learn how to think about your business, and not just react to the unlimited options for activity.
Here’s a way to organize your ideas and to-do’s so you can prioritize all you have to do each day.
The types of activities you do each day can be divided into four areas:
1. Income generation
3. Business Development
4. Total Wastes of Time
1. Income Generation
If you’re in start up, you’ll need to spend the bulk of your time each day in this area. I recommend that these are the tasks you tackle first, because often, these are the tasks you will most resist doing.
This can be anything from writing warm letters, creating referral systems, from networking to sales calls. HINT: This is often the stuff you avoid like the plague because it’s much more fun to sit around and play with logos.
The best way to discover your primary income generators is to ask yourself this question:
How did you get the clients you currently have?
Then, write down your answer… and do more of that. That is your primary income generator activity. Work on making it into a system or a habit.
Deliverables are the services you offer. This is the time you spend with the clients you already have. The people who have already paid you to do what you do for them.
If you sell your services in high-value packages (not hours for dollars), then your clients pay in advance – and you deliver the service. Deliverables do not generate the income, but they do serve the clients.
Typically, entrepreneurs don’t have a hard time following through on deliverables because we want to show up for the people who have appointments and are expecting us to deliver.
It’s most effective to batch your deliverables on certain days of the week so that you can give your full focus to this activity. That way you can batch at least one day a week to Business Development.
3. Business Development
As you make money in your business, you’ll continually have to focus on the future growth of your business. Otherwise, you will have strictly a transactional business with no space to expand into new services, offers, and branding.
So, the time you spend building into future business is key. But it is NOT the #1 priority. This is where many business owners get confused.
They confuse their love of bright shiny objects (new websites, logos, rebrands, product ideas) with an actual need. They end up making their task list way too complex. This is not necessary, especially when your business is in its first years of growth.
4. Total wastes of time
This is where many entrepreneurs lose hours of time. This tends to happen when they get scared of how much other stuff there is to do and how little of it is getting done.
This also tends to happen if they don’t know how to write a task list. See, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, your brain likes a good dopamine hit. This means your brain likes the activity of checking items off a list.
The worst thing you can do is set up your weekly priorities with no tasks. For instance, when you simply “know” that you have to “sell something.”
If you write your priorities list in this nebulous way, you will find yourself doing ANYTHING in order to feel like you’ve accomplished SOMETHING. And if your office is in your home, that will mean you spend way too much of your office hours time cleaning your oven, emptying the dishwasher, sorting out files, and picking out the very best letterpress holiday card to send out this year. Doing these things doesn’t mean you are distracted. It just means you are seeking out a dopamine hit. You want to get things done. Start breaking down your tasks lists into actual items you can check off.
What is your biggest challenge with getting stuff done? And where have you most improved in your productivity this year?