In that order.
For the first time in 2 years, I spent a few days in the last week onsite at other businesses doing some consulting and training. Since I’ve been working on my own business, I just hadn’t the time to put a lot of effort into helping others. After a few days of interfacing with some very successful small business owners, it intrigued me how interested they were in my own personal daily schedule…
A few months back I noticed sales were slipping and my stress level was rising rapidly. In those moments, when you finally realize that in the last 5 working days you got absolutely nothing of value accomplished, you really need to step back. Sit in your office with the door closed or take an extra long shower since you’ll have no interruptions and evaluate a few things:
- What is your role as the business owner/leader? Literally, what is your job description and are you following it? No job description? Make one!
- What can you do that would most benefit the company in 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 5 years? Forget about what’s needed to get through today for a few minutes and focus on longer term. Unlike public companies, you don’t have next quarter’s earnings report to cloud your long-term judgement.
- Are you spending half of your time on marketing/sales (getting new customers) and half of your time on customer service/operations (taking care of existing customers)? Granted, your sales and marketing efforts should certainly include marketing to your existing customer base, but do not make the mistake of convincing yourself that that ONLY means dealing with current customer issues. Your sales/marketing efforts to existing customers mean up-selling, cross-selling, educating them on all the products and services you offer along with gathering referrals and testimonials.
- Does your schedule allow you to achieve 1-3? Obviously, this is where most business-owners, myself included, often get side-tracked.
So what can you do about it? The answer is simple, create a daily or weekly schedule.
Initially my daily schedule looked like the following:
|8-9:30||review schedules, answer any questions for service and address any service issues|
|9:30-10||Review and Respond to emails|
|10:00-11:00||Customer Complaints, Personnel issues, Inventory checks, Office Questions|
|11:00-12:00||Service quotes, Business Accounting, Financial Reports, Daily reports,Taxes, Insurance etc.|
|1:00-2:00||Improve Processes, Procedures, Checklists, Scripts, and Handbooks|
|3:00-4:00||Sales and Customer Follow-ups, Office Questions|
|4:00-5:00||Payables, Billing Questions, Payroll, Emails, Etc.|
However, after realizing that the “creative” processes of Sales and Marketing weren’t really as effective in only an hour time-slot I converted to a weekly schedule with 2-hour blocks for Sales and Marketing in the afternoon and my standard morning schedule. Personally, I define Marketing as everything my business does to get a prospect to contact us to solve a problem. Once the prospect has contacted us, they are now in my sales process/system. Everything from that point of contact, till we sit down with the new customer after our work is finished to make sure they’re happy and to gather referrals, is Sales.
Monday through Thursday I alternate between Sales and Marketing and Friday is a “flip” day where I choose which one will benefit the business more (or whether I need to just go for a motorcycle ride).
So now that you know what needs to be done, do you have any doubts that in 3, 6, or 12 months, let alone 5 years, your business and therefore you will ultimately benefit from such dedication to your job description as the business leader???
Businesses generally mimic their owners according to the 3 Leaders every business needs. If you’re sales oriented you’ll love that time spent working on sales and marketing. If you’re a more technical, hands-on guy, you’ll feel much more in your element taking care of the customer issues and making them happy. If you’re a numbers person, that time from 11-12 and 4-5 where you work on payables, reports, and other accounting needs will be right up your alley. That being the case, you have 2 options:
- Commit to taking care of all of these items yourself.
- Hire someone else to help you in the areas you aren’t good at or passionate about.
If you choose the first, my Recommended Reading section is a great place to learn about books that will help educate you on all of these areas.
If you choose the second, I’d read some of the books anyway so you know if the team member or consultant you’re working with really knows her stuff. There are plenty who do not. The first item I would outsource would be the accounting stuff.
My blog title obviously infers that just by setting your schedule you’ll now have a sense of control over your business and more importantly your life… The only proof I can offer for that is to try it. Force yourself to make it a priority to follow your schedule and you will be utterly amazed at how productive you can be.
To your scheduling success, Bryan
P.S. At our weekly Team Meeting I apologized to my team for not doing my job and let them know about my new schedule. I recommend you do the same so everyone knows things-are-a-changin.