Stop Procrastinating!

Rewarding Yourself, Accountability and Dreaming

6. Reward Yourself
Rewards--we all love them. But it's time to get honest with yourself. On a weekly basis, ask yourself if you've really done anything worthy of a reward--something that will have a tangible impact on your business in the near future. Then choose your reward carefully and make it only as grand as the task completed. For example, landing a major client might be worthy of a celebratory champagne dinner, whereas getting the brochures in the mail probably only merits a handful of chocolate-covered strawberries.

7. Be Accountable
Find a partner, organization or another business owner to hold you accountable. This was helpful during startup to Jill Duval, publisher and founder of Albuquerque, New Mexico, business magazine New Mexico Woman, now published monthly, with annual sales of $275,000 and 42,000 readers. "I was sidetracked by things like phone calls, record keeping and organizing," says Duval, "but a group of us got together and decided to be accountable to each other at regular meetings. We each had a list of things to accomplish by the next meeting, and if those things were not accomplished, we had to pay $5 into a fund that we later donated to nonprofits or used to celebrate birthdays."

Whether you choose to buddy up with another business owner or be regularly accountable to a friend or family member, be sure to pick someone who won't let you off the hook too easily if you don't meet your goals.

8. Predict the Future
A sure way to determine if what you are doing right now is furthering your business is to look ahead. If you stay in the pencil-sharpening stage, where will your business be next week or next month? Chances are, you'll be in debt.

Guy Kawasaki, author of eight books, including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries and How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, suggests that entrepreneurs use the following test to determine if what they are doing can be considered progress: "Would you call your spouse to tell him or her it's done? For example, you wouldn't call your spouse to [say] that you ordered stationery."

Do something today that makes you want to call home, and your odds of future business success dramatically increase. Or if negative motivation is more your style, picture your future if you don't take some steps forward now.

9. Remember Your Dream
When the going gets tough and it's time to tackle those things outside your comfort zone, keeping your initial dream in mind might be the motivation you need.

Jeff Jump, 38, president of Prentice Products, a custom print shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana, says, "It had been my lifelong goal to have my own business . . . it didn't matter what I had to do. I could have been taking out the trash, [but I was] still excited about it because I finally owned my own business. Now my vision is to grow the company so I [will] have a print shop in each region of the United States."

Changing goals and creating new dreams can keep your excitement as fresh as it was in the beginning.

10. Do the Hard Stuff First
When Jump purchased his business in 2001, it was clear early on that there were tough decisions to be made if he was to achieve his financial goals. "I had to eliminate some long-term employees in order to be profitable," says Jump. "I almost drove my business into the ground by waiting too long," he recalls. "I overcame [the problem] by taking the emotion out of my decisions." Jump had $2.1 million in 2005 sales and projects $3 million in 2006 sales.

Emotion can kill a business before it even gets off the ground. Human nature dictates that we are first drawn to the things that bring us pleasure, and business tasks are no different. By getting responsibilities that seem distasteful out of the way rather than avoiding them, we can more fully enjoy the other parts of business ownership.

Put Out the Welcome MAT for Success
Guy Kawasaki recommends you prioritize by weaving a "mat"--milestones, assumptions and tasks--for yourself. here's how.

  • Milestones: "The first priority is achieving milestones," says Kawasaki. "Milestones are the handful of steps like finishing the design, shipping and collecting the first check."
  • Assumptions: These, says Kawasaki, "are the key guesses you are making about your business. For example, how many sales calls a person can make in a day might be considered an assumption. As milestones are achieved, assumptions can be tested and revised based on results."
  • Tasks: "Do [tasks] only to achieve a milestone or test an assumption," says Kawasaki. "Everything else is of secondary importance."
Carolyn Hueston keeps busy as a Cochrane, Alberta, freelance writer for a number of national and international magazines.
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This article was originally published in the June 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: No Excuses.

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