01 Mar

Do things right the first time

Recently I was asked what my best tip or advice would be around time management. How can one run a business and be effective in managing their time?

There is not just one answer, since it depends on where you are in your business, what systems and processes are in place and how many resources you have.

There are the general tips of prioritising your tasks, delegating and building micro-goals into your routine, but the one piece of advice that really stands out for me is the following in the form of an analogy.

In order to build a strong house, which will withstand all weather conditions you naturally begin by building a strong foundation. Once the foundation has been built you then start with the framework and from there you fill in the detail. I’m no builder, but even to me it makes sense. Building a strong foundation and then moving systematically through and completing one project after the other, makes for good building sense.

So, relating this to business, if you want to spend your time wisely and make sure your business can withstand all “weather conditions”, make sure you have a strong foundation in the business. This would include having the right people in your business, the correct systems and processes, defining an accurate target market and being clear on your product or service offering. Spend time in the very beginning to get these elements right would be building your foundation and framework and then actively put time aside every quarter to review your progress.

Every new project you initiate in your business, from innovation and developing new products and services to on-boarding new employees, make sure the foundations are strong and the support network or framework is in place. Having to re-visit failed projects due to lack of planning and preparation can be incredibly expensive, demotivating, stressful and a complete time waster.

Unfortunately many business owners waste so much time running around in reactive mode putting out fires  all day, because the initial foundations and business framework are not in place or are incredibly weak. Having a fancy bathroom or walk-in cupboards can be great, but if the walls of the house are crumbling down, a stand-alone victorian bath can seem pretty useless.

Good time management is about doing the right thing first and making sure you don’t need to keep going back to patch up the errors.

05 Jan

Hi, my name is …, and I’m a workaholic

Imagine this scenario, after years of job-hopping, dabbling in various industries and clock-watching until the end of the work day, you have finally found your calling in life! You have discovered what you were put on this earth to do. Every morning you jump out of bed with great energy and gusto, full of creativity, ideas and solutions, ready to get stuck into work for the day.

The euphoric feeling of loving your work, feeling valued and having the right “fit”  is incredible. You feel like you could go on working forever with no sleep as if you were permanently on cloud nine. Herein however lies a problem, if you jump in boots and all, continuing at the same pace and intensity with no boundaries, you may find yourself waking up one day realising that your life is all about your work and nothing else.

If you don’t want to be classified as a workaholic or a “work martyr” and you want to maintain the love for what you do in your work and still maintain some sort of balance, then think about implementing the following guidelines into your day. This way you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. Have beginnings and ends

Have set times every day to start and end your work day.  By keeping these time boundaries in place it prevents you from encroaching into your personal time. Sticking to this every day allows you to start building a positive routine into your life.

You may believe that by extending your working hours it will be beneficial to your business, more hours means getting more work done? Actually working more hours does not make us more productive. According to a study completed at Ohio University the human brain needs a 15 minute break after every hour of work. Unfortunately not many people carry out this practise, which results in a decrease in productivity. Interestingly, another study published in 2014 by John Pencavel of Stanford University showed that an employee’s output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours. All that is achieved is a waste of time and an increase in your frustration levels.

2. Have daily micro-goals

To-do lists have their place, but one component that is most often missing from this list is a deadline. This can be dangerous especially for someone who is prone to shifting into workaholic mode. To-do lists can go on forever and we tend to keep adding to the list without including deadlines.

So here is a challenge for you. Every day pick 3 micro-goals, tasks which you can achieve in one day. This helps to re-enforce the “beginning and end” concept. Ending the day at a set time, knowing that you have completed the set tasks for that day provides a sense of closure.

3. Have a hobby

It’s not about rushing out and joining a book club or scrapbooking group for the sake of having an interest. It’s about acknowledging the fact that work is not everything. Finding something that inspires you, motivates you, challenges and excites you besides work is key to creating that work-life balance we hear about so often, but don’t always achieve.

Something I learned growing up was “too much of a good thing is not good for you.”  A simple principle that has kept me in check over the years. Everything in moderation, that includes work.

You may find the workaholics anonymous assessment helpful if you believe you may be a workaholic.

30 Mar

Writing your business plan is not the same as writing your grocery list

When you have to do the monthly grocery shop you normal jot down the list of items needed prior to heading off to the store. When you take a message for someone in your office you generally write it down and when you are planning a party you make a list and plan of everything you need and who you will be inviting. You do this so you won’t forget and very importantly that you can refer back to your original thoughts not leaving anything out.
List writing is an excellent habit to have for sticking to a grocery budget or not forgetting to send cousin George a party invitation. List writing however is not how you build a business plan.
Over the past couple of days I’ve spoken with a number of people who have admitted that they haven’t documented their business strategic plans or documented monthly or weekly goals.
Many of them said that they do have a to-do list, which you could say is better than nothing, but the reality of the situation is is that a list is not a plan and your business plan should not be treated like a shopping list.  Big difference!
A to-do list is an unending selection of “stuff”. You tend to keep adding to this list as the days and weeks go on and sometimes when you get to review the list starting from point one you cannot actually recall the reason for why the point had been added in the first place, and it gets removed or left to live another list-hogging day. New points on the list can be added randomly, because they sound good at the time. However how often do these points add value to your original goal?
Lists get lost and get started and ended on different apps, pieces of paper and notebooks. Does this sound familiar?
The biggest difference and benefit about drafting a strategic business plan and then breaking the plan up into bite size pieces and documenting daily, weekly and monthly goals, is that you can be assured that everything you are doing is working towards an end goal.
A strategic plan is just that, strategic.
Your micro goals key into your short term goals, which key into your medium goals which in turn key into your long term goals.
The following points may assist you:
1) Throw your collection of to-do lists away!
2) Dedicate some time to drawing up a precise business strategic plan. You may call on a business coach or mentor to assist you with this process.
3) Invest in a diary – online or paper whichever takes your fancy
4) Be disciplined! What you document in your diary should be actions or activities, which come directly from your main plan. These actions should follow the trusty SMARTER model. (Specific, Measurable, Actioned, Realistic, Timed, Ethical and Resources)
5) Recap on your plan every week and ever quarter review your business plan. This ensures that you are on track and moving towards the end goal in timely fashion.  By having to go back on regular basis it ensures that your plan doesn’t land up in file 13.
 6) Lastly, don’t forget to throw your to-do lists away and do not be tempted to start a new one.
This saves you time and money and keeps you moving forward and very importantly keeps you on track.
Need some assistance with drafting your business plan? Contact Nicole nicole@tikumu.co.nz