Are your business development efforts on track or off track?
“I want more focus!” is one of the most common answers I get as a business coach when I ask people what they want. The next question is, “More focus on what?” Life becomes much easier when we know what we want to focus on. (The most common answer is business development.)
Of the many analogies in business, the one I find most helpful is of a train travelling along a set of tracks towards a specific destination. There’s a terminus (our final destination), stations along the way (major milestones), regularly spaced sleepers (days) and our train (or business) is travelling on those tracks. However fast or slow it’s going, it’s kept on track…by the tracks!
In many ways tracks are boring. We can’t go anywhere else. We have to follow the tracks; And so it is with tracking – monitoring and noting down stuff. Boring, but important. In fact, more than important – essential.
When a client wants to change something (the thing they want to focus on) the starting point is always to track it and note down when that activity occurs. Three weeks’ monitoring of the activity will be enough time to analyse what’s happening and what corrective action we need to take. Do we need to keep tracking after that? Top athletes and their coaches will track activity continuously. In fact, most serious athletes will continuously track key activities and results. I guess we need to decide if we’re serious business people who aspire to be top business people. If we are serious and we do aspire to greater things, we need to track. If we’re not that serious then I guess we don’t need to.
As a business coach, the most common complaint from my business customers is that they lack time – they’re just too busy. This is how it normally goes…
“Where did today go!? I’ve been mad busy – but I’m not sure what I’ve achieved.” We’ve probably all had days like that. Possibly even weeks like that. It is possible to get to the end of the year and wonder what’s actually changed despite expending a huge amount of effort.
A sobering and enlightening exercise is to log the activities we undertake every day for a week and note how long we spend doing them. We can do it for longer than a week, but, over the years, I’ve found that my business coaching clients gain sufficient insight from doing it for just one week.
Here’s a bonus: The very fact that we’re writing down what we’re doing will stop us doing certain trivial things that we may normally do! We just don’t want to commit to paper something that we’d be embarrassed to share with anyone.
Subsequently, it’s useful to go through the list with a red and green highlighter. Items we consider high value are highlighted in green; tasks we consider low value or tasks we don’t like doing are highlighted in red. Without any deliberate, conscious changes the percentage of green highlighted items will increase as the days go by.
The challenge is then to look at the red items and work out how these can be done more quickly, done by someone else, or not done at all. If it’s an unpleasant task, best to do it first thing in the morning (Brian Tracy’s “Eat thate Frog for breakfast”). Another good tactic is to limit the time we spend on a task. Set the alarm on your phone (or use a countdown timer) to go off after fifty minutes – or whatever time you’ve designated for the task. You’ll find that you process the task more efficiently if you’re working to a fixed time. This makes use of the principle that we always get more done on our last day before going on holiday.
Business Coaching Bit
If you want something to change in your business or your life, start tracking it today. Get a notebook. Write it down each and every time you do it. It’s a little, simple thing that will, I promise, make a big impact. If you want to get on track and stay on track, get tracking! If you need some help, give me a call.