Whether your job depends on it or you're just super competitive, there is a way to finish the year strong and prep for 2015. Commit to this five-step plan to maximize your productivity and set the foundation for a stellar year ahead.
New year talk is all about goals. I'm a huge fan of digging in and specifying numbers and targets. There is plenty of science to back up the concept. Sometimes it helps to step back and assess what creates a profitable business over the long haul and not to just look at the last couple of months of the year.
After 23 years of my not-so-smooth entrepreneurial career, I have found that being super productive and maximizing effort in a business boils down to these five key things:
1. Set a solid foundation for pricing for profit.
I am always amazed by the entrepreneurs who don't drill down from the very beginning with their numbers at an extremely granular level. I can think of few activities delivering a higher return on investment than calculating the number of steps in a process, the amount of time each one takes (on the low and high sides) and how much that inconsequential label on the front packaging affects the bottom line. Calculate not only how much time it takes your staff to produce a product or serve a client but also how much of your time it takes.
2. Create a continuous flow of new business.
Entrepreneurs can get stuck in the middle of the day-to-day client-servicing grind and forget to keep refilling the funnel.
It's hard when you're immersed in a project and a demanding client is taking gobs of time so that even brushing your teeth feels like a luxury. But I don't care: Make two more sales calls. Your business depends on it.
3. Craft a sales strategy to land the right clients.
Notice I didn't say try to close sales with everyone in the universe. You want the right people, your target audience, the ones you can serve and with them achieve true economies of scale.
It's scary to be specific about whom you will serve. But you must. Not carving out the time to tailor your process to close sales with the best, most profitable clients for your company will leave you pushing water uphill for a long time. Plus, your time will be frittered away by your writing ineffectual copy that's so bland it will attract no one or you'll have to reach out to so many niche markets that you'll go broke. Just decide who the keepers are and focus on them.
4. Set aside time to work on your business.
You will never be able to find three uninterrupted weeks to redo your pricing model. That only happens to people who are in bad accidents. You need to religiously carve out time weekly to move the needle forward. Guard the first hour of your day like your spawn's livelihood depends on it. Commit to your version of hyperefficiency and effectiveness.
I'm a staunch believer in not checking email the first thing in the morning unless I have a big event before noon. I plan the day by listing the top six activities that will lead to the most results once I shore them up. Trouble deciding what to include? When in doubt, focus on bringing in more of the right business.
5. Plan for regeneration.
The goose that lays the golden eggs cannot keep working night and day without a break. Nike hit the nail on the head with its concept of entrepreneurs being business athletes. Run, sprint and dig deep, but you absolutely must rest and refuel if you hope to sustain a profitable business that does anything other than kill you.
The best ideas don't come from gritting teeth in front of the laptop. Nor do they present themselves to angry entrepreneurs bitter about working 10 days straight. Put down your martyr torch for a minute and stop acting like you're so busy. Busy doing what? is the real question. Just take a break already.
I'm a huge fan of recharging with setting off for a quick walk (even if it's just for 10 minutes around the block of a very noisy metropolis), taking a few deep breaths, downloading a meditation app or just gazing at the big blue sky for a bit.
I promise that when you return everything will be right where you left it. Perched like a cherry atop all those stacks of unfiled receipts might be your next big idea. Just do it.
Wondering how productive you are right now? Take my quiz to find out.