How can a small business owner stay focused with so many ideas and jobs to juggle
Brain overload - Where do you begin!!! Have you ever found yourself bogged down with lots of ideas and jobs to do whilst feeling like you just don’t know where to begin or how to stay focused?
As an entrepreneurial minded person, there are often too many ideas, tasks and projects, but a lack of time or resources to do them all. Entrepreneurs are a creative bunch of people and have lots of new ideas and aspirations for greater success! But how can a small business owner stay focused? Juggling all the ideas alongside trying to understand and identify which ones are worth your time and which ones you shouldn’t do are all part of the journey. But finding the time and more importantly, knowing how to stay focused on finishing and achieving these ideas/tasks/projects are often the biggest challenge.
Having a lack of focus or not knowing which idea to tackle, is a common challenge. In some instances this can lead to procrastination, or the beginning of feeling overwhelmed. How do you balance running the business and getting to grips with all your ideas.
You are not alone, this is a common situation. But sometimes the “how” to achieve this can be the biggest hurdle.
This is where a second pair of eyes and ears can be important. External help and support can be an invaluable resource to a business owner.
With all your ideas the hardest thing to do, is, know which one to pursue! So you might find yourself falling into the trap of what every well-meaning business owner would do, you put all of them on hold until further consideration, research or analysis.
You have the enthusiasm, you have determination, you have guts, you want to achieve great things and turn all your brilliant ideas into reality, except you are a little stuck.
For so many of my clients, they are passionate about their business, they want to grow it, build it into something, bigger and more sustainable. But they find they get trapped in the never-ending loop of ideas and the day to day churn. They rarely find the time to research them, let alone understand which one to do first or know how to identify if they have the skill set and resources to implement it.
In many circumstances, this can mean they never get around to any of the tasks because they lose focus and understandably running the business takes over.
BUT HOW CAN YOU STAY FOCUSED AND HELP YOURSELF IDENTIFY WHAT TO DO NEXT??
Often this is not something that can be done in isolation. As the saying goes “two heads are better than one.” Having an outside person to give you that unbiased and objective input and direction and to challenge your thinking, can ONLY be beneficial, as it is so easy to get caught up in what you have been doing and how you have been working, that, it can be hard to see the opportunities and challenges.
For example, let’s say you want to revamp your branding or logo, you have the ideas and vision in your mind but how do you work your way through all the options, consider all the choices, colours, font, styles. You can find you fall into this indefinite research/thinking mode, thinking about the pros and cons, pricing, asking for people’s opinions, but somehow never quite getting to that final decision. You’ve lost the focus you originally had. Which could mean you never rebrand and get stuck in the cycle of picking it up and putting it down never quite finishing it.
The more you do this, the harder it is to stay focused and the greater the chance of distractions taking over.
The repeating scenario I have come across time and again is the more a business owner has on their plate the less likely they are to achieve everything. There is too much to juggle to be able to start, finish, or implement. Too many options, ideas or thoughts, that they can fall into a cycle of inactivity and sometimes procrastination. You’ve lost the focus, but you want to get it back, you want to stay focused!!
STAY FOCUSED! BUT HOW!
Being able to identify when you have lost your focus can be hard, you could find yourself trying to figure out why and how you found yourself in this vicious cycle with lots of ideas, but not enough time. This is where it’s so important to bring in that extra pair of eyes, ears, and support…..to help you stay focused.
External support you bring in will spend time with you, understand your ideas, tasks, projects, and aspirations and help you identify HOW you can achieve them. How to get focused and how to make things happen.
There is no magic formula. You are not going to take the long list of ideas and tasks and overnight have a miracle answer. But with the right external business support, they can remove many of the barriers you are experiencing, such as no time for “doing” anything not enough time to “research or assess” options. You need help to see through the fog, to create a clear plan of action and a route to achieving your ideas which will help move your business forward.
However there are certain things you can do yourself, to help you work towards to clearer mind and in turn, help you stay focused:
1. How long have you been considering the idea or thinking about starting the project?
Don’t let procrastination drag you and your idea into a long drawn out period of months and months, give yourself a set amount of time to consider it and after this period, be tough, make a decision. That could be……action it and get going or perhaps it’s no longer right, your customers aren’t wanting this or that so you decide not to proceed. Remember it is OK not to complete something as long as you are clear with why and what your next action will be. Clearer ideas will only help you and any external support you bring in to achieve positive results.
2. Does this idea align with your business vision?
Ensure that through the assessment of your ideas & projects it fits with your vision for your business. Make sure that it still has the benefits you expected. If you realise it isn’t in the best interest of your business, or to achieve it you will need to implement changes that don’t fit with your business culture or vision or you don’t at this time have the financial resources to commit to it. Then it’s OK to stop. Always check back with yourself, stay focused on the original goal and purpose.
3. Do you possess the natural talents or skills to bring this idea to life?
You must be honest with yourself and consider whether you have the expertise, time and skills to make it happen. Can you implement this on your own, bearing in mind you still need to be running the business at the same time? It’s a positive attribute to be able to say “I need to pass this onto someone else to support me, I need extra help”. Someone who tries to do everything on their own can only do so much and the thinner you spread yourself the less likely you will achieve the high standards you want for your business and customers.
4. Does this idea contribute to your goals and priorities
Any idea you consider needs to be in line with your business plan, goals and targets. There is no point in spending time and resources on an idea that is not going to directly contribute to your business priorities and goals. This doesn’t mean you can never come back to it, but fundamentally we are all in business to make money, so please take the time to ensure what you are doing is supporting your business and efforts.
5. Will this idea dilute or strengthen the results of what you're working on right now?
If you spend to much time thinking about an idea or waiting to start a task or project you can find that it was “at the time when you first thought of it” very relevant to the business and improving things, but now 9 months on its no longer necessary or essential. The industry has moved on, perhaps the expectations of customers have changed. Don’t continue with something that is no longer relevant to what you need to be working on “right now.”
You may have come across another approach you can use your help you stay focused and concentrate on the key goals. It is referred to as S.M.A.R.T goals.
SMART goals are used to help guide a person/business in setting clear objectives.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
A SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help you focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving each goal.
BUT WHERE DO YOU START, HOW DO YOU ORGANISE YOUR IDEAS!
Everyone needs to create a system that works for them to organise all their ideas. Not having a system is a bit like trying to drink all the water that’s seeping in through a hole of your boat. The water (ideas) just keep coming in, and through sheer desperation, you try to drink the water and take it in, rather than handling or finding a pragmatic way to deal with it (eg; buckets, plug the hole). Rarely can you keep up, and you’re drowning while trying to save yourself.
Therefore, it is in “the doing” of something, that you will find you strike gold and set yourself apart from the thinkers and start to take big steps forward.
So there is a certain mindset that business owners can adopt to help themselves achieve their ideas and goals and ensure they get the best out of working alongside the external business support and in turn help yourself stay focused and achieve the clarity you need to achieve your goals.
Here are some approaches that could help you in finding ways in which to support your system of identifying the ideas/projects to work on:
1. Trust your gut
If you feel strongly that an idea or project is right or wrong, listen to it and most importantly follow it through. Just like with people, if you didn’t have a good feeling about someone you may choose not to proceed with staying in touch or buying something off them. Apply this to your own business.
2. Create a list of your ideas, goals, tasks you want to achieve.
Once you are clear about them, its easier to work through them and give clearer parameters to those supporting you in accomplishing them.
3. Get into the routine of always finishing/completing a task.
Many people have mastered the art of starting, but few have devised the habit of finishing. Don’t start multiple ideas or tasks, without finishing previous ones, this just feeds the confusion and lack of focus.
4. Know when to stop doing something.
If you are finding an idea is not turning out as expected its absolutely fine to stop it. This will allow you to redirect your time and energy, towards other more rewarding opportunities. Remember this is your business, and you don’t want to be wasting your time or money on something that isn’t right. There is nothing wrong with knowing when to stop something.
5. Follow the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle)
You may not be so familiar with this concept, but it is a great approach to apply to many areas of running a small business. For example, the 80/20 rule suggests that if you have a list of 10 items to do, only two out of the ten will turn out to be worth more than the other 8 items put together.
This illustrates the importance of understanding and recognising the key tasks/ideas to take forward.
To apply this approach for yourself, you could start with writing down ten of what you believe at this time are the important ideas/tasks. Then ask yourself: If you could only accomplish one of the goals on that list today, which one goal would have the greatest positive impact on your life?
Then pick the second most important goal. What you’ll find is, after you complete this exercise, you will have determined the most important 20 per cent of your goals that will help you more than anything else and help you stay focused.
You should continue to work at those goals that you’ve chosen as the most valuable all the time.
TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE!
There are very few people who could achieve this type of focus and work alone, and it isn’t advisable in many cases to do this type of activity in isolation, you need fresh eyes, objective thoughts, someone to challenge the thinking. Not every idea is going to be right. Some might need tweaking; others may not be relevant anymore.
But having help to achieve them is key and this is where external business support can really be invaluable. These people and services have the background of applying and implementing business ideas and will have the time to dedicate to you to help you stay focused and achieve the best results.
Remember without an extra resource you can’t expect yourself to suddenly find all the hours in the day to turn all these great ideas and goals into reality. A good business owner knows when they need to bring in help to support their business to grow, it’s not a weakness to bring in external help, its sensible, its INVESTING in your business, for its future.
Nobody, no matter what their knowledge and experience, can predict how a business idea will turn out, this is why an idea is only as good as the time you give to identify its value to your business. But this is not something that needs to do alone, as it is easy to get blinkered. Remember there are people and services out there to support you in achieving all your goals. This is where Oasis Business Support can bring your ideas into reality and help you achieve greater success!
It can be hard to do everything when you are a busy business owner, but this is where many of the approaches I have listed in this blog can help you stay focused. Why not use the (80/20 rule) to help you filter out the most important ideas to deal with first. This approach can result in removing the chance of procrastination by enabling you to identify the tasks/ideas that deserve your time and focus and that will make a real difference to your business. Then use the SMART tool to help define each one to ensure you know exactly how you are going to accomplish it.
The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex, but the payoff and rewards are the greatest!!
If you would like to know more about the parent to principle (80/20) rule and how you could use it to grow your business, here is a great article: Forbes
More information about how you can apply the SMART approach in your business have a read of this really useful blog: MileIQ
For external Business Support provider please visit: Oasis Business Support