Focus separates those who get stuff done from those who don’t. Far too often I meet brilliant people who own a business. Unfortunately, many of them lack focus and cannot achieve the greatness they deserve. If you are one of those people I want to help you.
Focusing on the right aspects of your business can make life a lot easier and also more fun. By lacking focus you are doomed to remain in a loop of mediocre results.
What should have your focus?
As the business owner you can no longer simply be the technician,there are many other tasks that need your attention. The five tasks that require your focus are;
- Managing your team.
- Follow up on incomplete work and Bring in new jobs.
- Plan and track the performance of the business.
- Create and implement systems and procedures to make tasks easier.
- Learn new stuff to help grow the business
Building your team.
If you refer to our previous article about delegation you can catch up on the reasons why I strongly believe you need to delegate.
Get someone else doing the bookkeeping and you can focus on drafting your business plan. If someone else is posting articles to your website you could be attending a professional development day about marketing your business.
The core group of team members you will need to grow a successful business are:
- An Accountant that you can trust and who wants to help your business to succeed.
- A Bookkeeper to handle the financial data entry, payroll, debtors and creditors.
- A Solicitor to deal with contract, employee and property law stuff.
- An I.T person that knows hardware, software and websites.
- Administration to keep paper work in order and undertake data entry.
- Workers (most important)
Some of the team you will need may be employees and others external experts, it is up to you to decide on the best mix for your business. If you’re not sure where to start take a look at our Referral Partners page All the businesses listed have already been vetted by Complete Accounting so you can be rest assured these guys know what they are doing.
Follow up on incomplete work
Make sure not to allow missing details and queries to slow the progress and completion of the client’s job. Create a communication channel for your team to provide all queries and missing information requests. As a part of the job review process go through the list provided to clear obvious queries and then request the remaining items from the client.
Bring in New Work
The days of putting your sign out the front and waiting for the clients and customers to roll in are over. As a business owner it is your responsibility to source new work for your business. Ways to market include;
- Attending business networking functions,
- Following up on prospects until they buy,
- Working with referral partners to develop a joint offering to a group of prospects,
- Writing useful articles (like this one) to post on your website, to attract ideal clients.
The marketing activity will generate a pipeline of prospects, clients and advocates for the business. In theory producing greater cashflow and reduced stress when it comes to paying the bills.
A business that generates cashflow over and above its operating needs creates options for the owner. This cashflow could:
- reinvested to fund business growth.
- retained to protect the business in times of shortfall or emergency.
- used to pay dividends to the owner, as thanks for all their hard work.
Plan and track the performance of your business.
Benjamin Franklin once said:
“ failing to plan is planning to failure”
Focusing on planning and tracking your business success is vital.
The business plan is your map to the destination you want your business to go. The fun part of this process is you’re in the driving seat, deciding how you are going to get to the destination.
Want to get cracking on your Business plan?
Where do you start?
Complete Accounting have developed helpful resources to get you started. All you have to do is enter your details below and the resources will be sent out.
Having a plan is just the first step your focus needs to be applied to; the next two steps are implementing the plan and tracking performance.
Implementing the plan
Implementing the business plan requires setting smaller goals and milestones that will lead to the overall plan being achieved. To allow you to focus on the five things that matter, make sure that you delegate as much of the plan implementation to the right team members as possible. Give the team member;
- An outline of the task.
- Outcome or Achievable Goal.
- Time frame required to achieve the outcome
How do you know if the business is heading towards successfully achieving its goals? You need to regularly check the plan. During this step review the goals listed in the plan against the progress achieved, meet with the team member you have delegated tasks to and discuss progress. During the meeting identify any blocks stopping achievement of the task and work through possible solutions. Do not give the team member the answer, provide them help to come up with an answer.
If the feedback you are receiving suggests that the goal isn’t clear enough or is no longer appropriate, adjust it or change it all together. Remember, business plans are never set in stone; it’s a living document that will require changes to reach the desired outcomes.
Create systems and procedures to make tasks easier.
You don’t actual have a business unless you can provide a consistently great outcome for your client or customer. A prospective buyer of your business will pay more for a business that they can walk into and start operating. The way to address both of these points is to spend some time creating the systems and procedures that will help the business to run without you. An added advantage of taking the time to write up business systems and procedures is you improve the ability to delegate within the business.
The easiest way to lose a client or customer is to not deliver on what you said you were going to do. This could mean the job isn’t up to standard, the order is incorrect or it took too long to achieve the desired result. As the business owner the buck stops with you.
Create templates of documents and worksheets that are regularly used, this will improve the speed and accuracy of job preparation. Prepare a checklist that your team will go through before they hand the job over for final review. This checklist will list the mission critical items required to achieve a successful outcome. The business needs to put in place processes to check the job before the client or customer receives the final output. A final review by a senior team member will help pick up any errors or missed items.
In a perfect world the business would do the work for the client and then the client would happily pay for the work. Unfortunately for most businesses payment happens after the invoice goes out. The business therefore needs systems and procedures to make sure the debtors pay. An example of the process to ensure payment looks like:
- Invoice the job on a timely basis;
- Follow up after the invoice terms have expired;
- If necessary setup a payment arrangement;
- Receive payment;
- Thank client for payment.
Each part of the process needs someone delegated to it and standard scripting prepared. As always delegate a task to the best person for the job.
Learn new stuff to help focus and grow the business
Someone once told me:
“a child today has more knowledge available to them than a 50 year old did 10 years ago.”
So it makes sense that you should prioritise some of your time towards learning new stuff to grow your business. This means scheduling regular professional development that takes you out of the business to go and learn from a paid expert. Paying for knowledge will make you more likely to attend and focus on what is being taught.
It’s great that you have attended and learned new stuff, but for your business to really benefit where ever possible you should share the knowledge with the rest of the team. You could share the key takeaways from the presentation; a better way to do something in the business or a new service or product that you heard about. To ensure that the new knowledge is acted upon create an action plan with your team and have someone be accountable for implementation.
Having read this article, you should understand the five tasks that require your focus. You can begin to use them as a template for running your day. At the start of the day, check through your diary for tasks that don’t meet the template and where possible delegate them to someone else.
By regaining your business owner focus the business will receive the best value from your time and you will be building a business to be proud of.