“How did you get to where you are?” you ask successful people.
“Hard work, determination, and luck,” is what they usually answer.
For some reason we interpret this to mean that these successful people are working more than we are. In fact, hard work alone will not make you successful, and putting in those 80 hour weeks is doing you more harm than good.
Small business owners tend to work non-stop, and this almost always leads to burnout and frustration. The key then, is to be more productive and work less so that you have the time to outthink your competition.
Here are some tips on doing that.
I’ve said it before on the Timely blog and I’ll say it again. If you don’t have clear goals you won’t be productive. Take this for example:
You’re walking north from where you are now. You can walk in this general direction, but since you don’t have a destination in mind, you can’t measure how well you’re doing. That’s what it’s like to be in business without goals.
But if you set a goal, say the the big city that’s 50 kilometers north of you, you can find the best route to get there, you can set landmarks for the smaller towns along the way, and you’ll know how far you need to go until you reach that city. That’s what setting a goal for your business is like. It gives you something to measure whether or not the things you’re doing every day are helping you reach your goals.
Here’s how you set a goal for your business. Put the kettle on. Make a cup of coffee. Take out a piece of paper and a pen.
Write down where you loosely see your business being in 5 years. That’ll give you something to think about on paper so that you know the general direction you’re headed in as you shape your destination.
Now using the SMART criteria, write down exactly where you want to be in 1 year.
S – Specific: Don’t be vague
M – Measurable: Make sure you can quantify it
A – Achievable: If you can’t reach your goal, it’s not worth aiming for
R: Relevant: Make sure your goal applies to where you see your business being
T: Time: Set a time period for you to achieve your goal
You can repeat the process each month or each week so that you can see whether or not you’re on track with your plans. It’s really that simple.
2. Less is more
I’m going to use the example above again.
You’re walking to the big city north of you. It’s going to take you about three days to walk there.
You could walk for 15 hours a day, but you’d be tired and you’d end up walking slowly. You’d end up hating the journey because you’re exhausted and you have no time for anything else. That’s what it’s like when you are working long hours back to back every day. Your productivity slips and you stop enjoying what you do. It’s not ideal.
But you could walk for 8 hours every day at a rapid pace, and have time to recover and enjoy yourself along the way on your journey. You’d have time to live and laugh, and you’d be happy to wake up the next day and continue on your mission. That’s what it’s like to work less, but have more focus. You get the same amount done, or more, and you set a happier tone for yourself and the people around you. It’s refreshing.
3. Get your systems in place
Getting your systems in place can help you increase what you’re doing, without putting any extra strain on yourself. Have you heard of people talking about businesses scaling? It’s all about putting systems in place so that your business doesn’t have to rely on one person to do everything. This allows your business to increase in size without putting more strain on you.
I’m going to use that previous example again! You’re still walking on your way to the big city. I come along and I give you a bicycle – hey what can I say, I’m a nice person. Now, you still have to work to keep yourself moving forward, but you have to work less to go further. That’s what it’s like to have systems do some of the work for you. They help you move your business along at a quicker pace while taking stress off of you.
Some systems to think about are communication, booking management, marketing, and workflow. Get these aspects working in unison, and it’ll be like building a bicycle for your business.
4. Take time to think and learn
We know that it’s not only hard work that makes you successful. It’s a wide combination of things, and once you get better at those things, you’ll start noticing results.
You can only do this if you learn about yourself, your market, your customers, your business, and your competition. Who is your ideal client, and how can you get more people like them. What do you need to change about your business to be more successful? How can you stay ahead of the competition?
Learning is what makes you stay relevant. Who do you look up to in the industry? You can bet they’re on the top of their game, and they do this by learning something every day.
Keeping on with that example earlier, if you take the time to learn about your surroundings while you’re traveling to the big city, you can save yourself a lot of extra work. You might take a look at the map and see that there are a few big hills ahead you can avoid. This is like learning about your market and optimising your business to perform the best in it.
5. Make daily and weekly task lists
When you get into business, it seems like a sprint. You know that feeling I’m talking about. Every business owner does. You look at what needs doing, at your bank balance, and at your staff’s problems and you say, “Oh (expletive)!”
That’s OK. We all feel like that from time to time. The trick is to write everything down that needs to be done and prioritise it. Delegate as much as you can to people so that you’re not doing everything. You need to be the mastermind behind your business. You need to be the one seeing what needs to be done and making sure it gets done, rather than doing it all yourself.
This is how you put yourself in control.
6. Enjoy yourself
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Slow down a bit, take a look around, and enjoy the journey that you’re on. In 20 years, you need to be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and if you burnt yourself out too quickly by forgetting to take some time off for yourself, you might not be so happy with what you’ve achieved. On the other hand, if you could look back at the good times you had while you worked your way towards the top, you’d have fond memories of your journey. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?
Working less and being more productive is a process. Don’t expect it to be smooth sailing all the time, because that would be a lie. Instead, make being more productive one of your goals and work towards it. And if you use the tools available to you, getting there will be easier.
This post was contributed by Jose Mathias from Timely, salon booking software. Timely helps thousands of salon owners around the world get more from their day by automating with an automated booking system that starts at just $19 a month.