Why is it that so many businesses seem to be doing well, but don’t excel?
Why are so many entrepreneurs working so hard and yet they never get beyond the crazy working hours to living the dream they started for?
Randy Stanbury, the founder, and chief inspiration officer at 4 Level Coach, offers guidelines to help Custom Homebuilders & Contractors get from working in their business to working on their business. He is a best-selling author with 25 years of experience in personal and business development. Read on to discover the strategies that will help you clarify your vision and determine the vital actions to fulfill that vision.
What is the difference between urgent and vital in business?
Many of the daily actions that keep entrepreneurs busy are important, but not necessarily vital. For instance, getting quotes out is important, but won’t set the table for achieving ultimate vision over long periods.
Urgent tasks need to be attended to and crises must be handled, but the focus is short-term. Vitals are the critical factors that will make a long-term difference to your business. Getting a quote out is not the same as executing a well-considered marketing plan or creating a new sales process.
Why is this difference important?
Many businesses rely on word-of-mouth referrals and they may have enough work to survive, but they aren’t necessarily able to thrive sustainably. In our book, The Small Business Freedom Formula, we describe how part of the formula is the ability to remove yourself from the day-to-day tasks and focus on the vitals. This focus begins with your vision.
Your vision must determine what is vital
Most businesses don’t have a clearly defined vision for the next three years, one year or even for the next six months. So, they just keep busy doing the same tasks every day. This does not create a sustainable long-term path, because the daily actions are not put together in the right way.
Ask yourself these two questions and take the time to write the answers down:
· Where do you want to be with your business in three years?
· What’s going to be different from today?
From here, you can break the answers down into manageable steps to implement.
How do you start implementing the vision?
Start with your team if you have one. Engage them, explain the vision to them and get their input and buy-in. As an entrepreneur, you bring one mind to the table. When you engage others, they see things that you don’t and their creativity can contribute so much value if you allow and involve them. I always tell myself if I’m the smartest person in the room, I’m in the wrong room.
Work backward from your three-year vision. What has to happen in the next year? Create one-year goals — reverse goals — because you’re working with the end in mind.
Use these questions to help:
· What is the business going to look like in a year from now?
· What’s happening in the organization?
· How many people will be on board?
· How much revenue will the business be doing?
· What sort of services will you provide?
· What new products will you have?
· Have you launched new products?
· Have you opened up new locations?
All these goals will be in proportion to your three-year vision. From your one-year vision above, you can start breaking it down even further and work out what must be done within the next 90 days to make it happen. This is where you figure out your vitals.
Choose five vital actions for the next 90 days
Five doesn’t sound like much, but it will keep you from getting overwhelmed. It’s easy to look at five vital actions and break it down even further. Determine what must happen in the next week.
Now you finally have a clear plan and path for moving forward and every action is more strategic, intentional and effective.
Three simple ways to make time for planning your vision
Every entrepreneur is busy. But are you busy in a sensible way that contributes to growth? If not, how do you make time?
· Be more creative and resourceful. Most people have plenty of wasted time in business. Determine which habits are eating your time and replace those with your vital actions. Stop doing too many unproductive and unprofitable things that are not helping you achieve your vision. Click here for our helpful Timefinder Tool which walks you through step by step to uncover what you can be delegating or what where your time can be better spent.
· Leverage the strengths of your team members. Get creative about how you use their time and maybe change their job functions a bit. Use skills and technology to make things happen.
· Start your day an hour earlier. Did you know that an hour earlier per day gives you six and a half more 40-hour workweeks in your calendar year? It’s all about how you use your time. How serious are you about your vision? What will you sacrifice to make it happen?
For example, a contractor in our coaching program recently went out to quote a job, before he’d even asked anything about the client. Upon arrival, the budget was $20,000. He said it wasn’t worth it, and he’d already lost an hour driving there, an hour with the client and another hour of driving home, all on a Sunday.
What does a lack of vision and vitals cost?
· It can cost you three hours of your Sunday afternoon, for one thing.
· You can end up doing the wrong work, costing you more time and money.
· Without clarity, you will have little confidence or courage to move forward.
· You’ll be stuck on a hamster wheel running in one place, being busy with things that aren’t getting you real results.
But if I stop going out and selling, how will I get work?
Making sales is important, but the strategy around sales is the real vital to look at. What is the marketing plan? Is what you are selling helping you achieve your vision? If you are not focused on a particular niche of what you’re good at, any job will do and then you will be selling like crazy to get new work. This isn’t profitable, efficient or effective.
What you stop doing for a short while will give you a chance to slow down and properly improve your systems and processes. Selling is crucial, yes, but consider the following:
· What type of selling are you doing?
· Is it more important to improve your sales package and sales process to increase your closing rate?
· Are you closing at a good enough rate?
· Are you getting the right dollars based on appropriate pricing?
· Addressing these questions can mean the difference between closing 50% of jobs and closing 75–80% of the jobs you quote for, which makes a lot more sense.
How to avoid being busy with the wrong tasks
We spoke with a general contractor with his crew. He was running from site to site, making sure they have materials and that the jobs are running well. But he should be out selling jobs and driving more business, making sure that systems and operations are improving, which is far more important than running around for supplies. Again, vision must determine the vital tasks.
The following steps may be possible solutions to help solve this type of problem:
· Get delivery services for materials, then you don’t need to employ someone immediately to fetch them.
· Outsource to competent part-time people who can help.
· Be careful when recruiting family and friends to help. It’s not always the best idea, especially if it doesn’t contribute to your long-term vision.
· Learn to let go. This is tough for every entrepreneur, but it’s important to be clear on the tasks you’re good at and which tasks others could be trained to do. Then they can focus on that job and do it way better than you because you’re trying to do too many other things as well. For instance, some of the first tasks to delegate typically include accounting and administration. Accounting is another vital because you need to have clarity on the numbers in your business, rather than just slapping it together to save a few bucks.
· Become a visionary leader and focus on the growth systems and plans. Create more leaders, delegate tasks and roles. If you’re still in the early days, include planning for this in your vision to take the pressure off or you’ll get stuck working ridiculous hours and hitting a ceiling on your income.
For more help, get a copy of The Small Business Freedom Formula — 7 Steps to Scaling & Selling your Business without You, now available on Amazon. You’re also welcome to visit www.4levelcoach.com to schedule a discovery call with Randy, so you can uncover how you can exchange the hamster wheel for a steering wheel and get yourself back in the driver’s seat for life and business.