New Year, new resolutions – right? New Year resolutions are often empty promises we make to ourselves, in the hope that we can actually stick to them. However, as we fall back into routine, the resolutions we made on January 1st often fade (if they haven’t already) into the background. As a small business owner, you might have a set of resolutions specifically for your business. Ideally, sticking to them will have a positive impact on your business. If you want to make effective resolutions that will help your business, you can start by taking a more strategic approach to business thinking.
Thinking strategically and building a business strategy is an important exercise for all businesses – large or small. Taking a strategic approach means looking ahead and adopting a longer-term view. Moreover, it means considering and analysing your business strengths and what opportunities you can capitalise on. For example, you may have 3-4 trucks for your plumbing business. This is a key strength as it means you can respond faster to more jobs. Taking a more strategic approach might also mean taking time away from the important day-to-day operational challenges of running a small business.
When adopting a strategic outlook, you can start by taking an hour out of your week to think about your business. As small business owners, many of you are probably thinking “but I’m always thinking about my business!”. Whilst this is probably true, do you ever take the time out and put all your focus on thinking solely about your business? When was the last time you gave yourself an hour to productively think about and capture new ideas, away from the distractions of meeting customers, answering the phone or doing the books?
Here are his top 7 tips to get you started:
1. Don’t be afraid to take it slow. The objective is to take an hour a week. However, it might be hard to jump in with both feet right away. Although first weeks of the year have passed, this doesn’t mean your opportunity to follow this resolution has too. Start with 20 or 30 minutes dedicated to thinking about your business. Over time, slowly build this up to an hour. Once you start to see the benefits, you’ll want to gradually increase the time you spend on this exercise.
2. Shut down your computer. It’s easy to fall into the habit of checking your emails or reviewing reports while you’re trying to focus on thinking. Doing this can often send your thoughts to the background. As a result, this makes it harder to capture any new ideas you have. So, put your email notifications on do not disturb. Better yet, put your computer to sleep.
3. Turn off your phone. Similarly to your computer, it’s likely your hand and mind want to wander to your phone during this time of active thinking. In this day and age, our phones act as one of our biggest distractions, with 48% of users claiming they use their mobile phone at work*. Therefore, by turning it off or placing it in a drawer for this short period, you’ll likely find yourself able to think with a clearer, more focused mind. You might be amazed at the thoughts and ideas that pop into your head when you remove this distraction.
4. Shut the door to your office or find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Much like technology, people – whether it be customers, workers or family – may also act as distractions to your thinking time. Find a time where you can be uninterrupted and left alone to ‘get in the zone’. 30-60 minutes might feel like an eternity in the beginning. If you persist, it will likely be well worth the effort.
5. Put it in your calendar. Treat this thinking time like you would any other important meeting. If you don’t schedule time for something like this, it’s likely it won’t happen.
6. Capture your thoughts. It shouldn’t take too many ‘thinking sessions’ before you start to have some great ideas. Hopefully, these ideas can help your business strategically. If you don’t capture your ideas by writing them down, you’ll likely forget them – and you can’t execute an idea you don’t remember.
7. Be prepared. You might get a few odd looks while sitting and ‘just thinking’. Don’t let that dissuade you. The value of setting time to strategically think about your business every week can help you take your small business to the next level.
*Source: Australian Edition, Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, Jun-Jul 2017