Are you somebody that loves to have a really detailed schedule for the next few days?
Or are you like lots of people running their own business who crave freedom, fluidity and variety in their days? A lot of my clients prefer this approach because often they’ve left behind a job or a corporate role that gave them little or no choice about how to manage their day and left them feeling penned in or held back. So they really value the ability to have free reign over what they do each day.
But I’ll let you into a secret. If you study the most successful people in business you’ll find that one of the things they consistently have in common is their scheduling habit. Many will tell you that unless something is in their schedule then it won’t get done. Their schedule is their definitive action plan. It’s the heart of their business plan.
And another way of looking at it is this …
If you’re not scheduling it, you’re really just winging it!
As I’ve said though, this isn’t always a popular idea with business owners. It isn’t something that I’m naturally drawn to either. I’m one of those people who loves variety and flexibility. But I also know that that’s a recipe for me getting much less done, and probably not getting round to some of the things that will really help me improve my business.
I know how it feels to fight against a detailed schedule. But I also know that it works, so I bite the bullet and take the grown up decision that I know is the best one for my business.
Here are a few things that you might want to think about scheduling into your own diary so that you can also make this work for you.
Working ON your business
You know those 18 bazillion ideas you have about how to grow your business? That you really wish you could ever find the time for? These are almost always the things that you’ll delay in favour of customer requests, supplier needs, your team’s requirements, today’s phone calls or emails, your other half needing some shopping, your cat being overdue for his trip to the vets. You get the picture!
These are the things though that will make the difference between your business being the same in 12 months as it is now, or it being significantly bigger or better. The best way to make some steady progress on all those brilliant ideas is to have some clear and non-negotiable slots in your diary that you dedicate to these things.
Then at the start of each week allocate the exact tasks you’re going to work on during those time slots. This way you’ll finally stopping getting to the end of the week (or the month) and wondering how you’re ever going to find the time to tackle that list of fantastic ideas.
I can honestly say that of all the businesses I speak to only around 10% are consistent with their marketing activities every week. Its another of those things that so many business owners will defer if a customer needs something else doing. Because customers are the lifeblood of our businesses aren’t they?
Yes that’s true. But to grow we need to be focusing almost as much time on finding our future customers as we do on servicing our existing ones.
The results of any marketing will be hugely improved by being consistent. Whether that’s posting on LinkedIn every day, sending out 50 mailshots a week, attending 2 networking events a week, or whatever else is the right approach for you own business. By being haphazard with any marketing campaign you will inevitably reduce the impact of it and the results you’ll gain from it.
So schedule this into your diary every week, or even every day if that’s the right timescale for your business.
Focusing on your financials
This isn’t so much a delayed activity as an avoided one in so many of the businesses I speak to!
Let’s be honest, for most of us the financial stuff of recording expenses, chasing up payments, updating spreadsheets or cloud systems and trying to create a cashflow forecast is spectacularly dull. Unless you’re an accountant (a very valuable business resource I should add!) then you probably didn’t go into business for yourself because you love numbers.
But if you aren’t keeping on top of the numbers in your business every week you’re simply not taking responsibility for making the decisions that will help it to grow.
And the other crucial reason to schedule this into your diary regularly is because it’s far more manageable if you can spend 30 minutes on this stuff once a week than it is to try and find several days to catch up with it all once you’ve left it for a few months!
And I’ll let you into another secret here. Taking control of their finances is often a pivotal point for people wanting to grow their business. Suddenly they feel as though they’re in control of things rather than hiding their heads in the sand. Clients often tell me how much of a difference it makes to them once they really learn about and properly manage their business’ finances. Finally they feel like they’re genuinely running a business rather than playing at it.
Following up your meetings
Have you ever been to a networking event and realised days, or weeks later that you forgot to follow up with that amazing prospect you spoke to? Or had a great meeting with somebody really interested in your services and then realised 3 weeks later that you still hadn’t sent them the promised follow up email? And now it feels too late to get back in touch doesn’t it because they’ll just think you’re sloppy or disorganised, maybe even rude.
Something I get most of my clients to do is to schedule follow up time into their diary at the same time that they book in a meeting. Usually you’ll know in advance of a meeting if it’s likely to need you to do any work afterwards. And that includes networking meetings where a consistent follow up will significantly increase the likelihood of you winning business from it.
So book in that time at the outset. That will make sure that promised quotes, proposals or follow up information will be sent over exactly when you said they would be so that you look efficient, professional and competent. Scheduling this in not only makes you more organised, it also increases the chances of you converting prospects into paying customers. Your schedule can make you serious money!
So I hope that’s given you some food for thought and convinced you at least a little bit of the benefits of scheduling your week more thoroughly. Don’t worry, I would never suggest you try & schedule every minute of every day because life and business are never that predictable. But scheduling the key tasks that you know will really help your business to grow will give your business the best possible chance to do that.
Need more help?
If you know this would help you but still feel as though you don’t know where to start, get in touch and let’s come up with some ideas to get you on the right track.