ICS Magazine

Working "On" Your Business as Well as "In" Your Business

February 4, 2005
Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Too often, the owners of small service companies find themselves with too much to do and too little time in which to do it.

They spend a lot of their time dealing with the crisis of the day or putting out the figurative fires that crop up, while they just can't seem to find the time to flesh out their goals and business plan for the year(s) ahead. There is always that pile of important things that we plan to do as soon as we get the time, but that time never seems to materialize. Ultimately, the business begins to run us instead of the other way around.

When asked recently by a student in a seminar I was facilitating how he should deal with this procrastination monster, I replied that he needed to schedule time to work on the business just as he scheduled other jobs and tasks when working in the business.

The best time to set aside is usually found in the early morning before the issues of the day start crowding in and fighting for our attention. I recommend you set aside one hour at the beginning of every workday to work on your business. This hour needs to be actually placed on the schedule and given a very high priority, the same as any other important appointment on the calendar. No interruptions are allowed unless it is a true emergency. Very few things can't wait one hour to be settled.

During this daily hour you should work on the various aspects of your business plan. Start with your goals, both personal and business. Everything must be in writing. There's something magical about writing down your goals. Quantify those goals into how much money is needed to make them a reality. Next, set a timeline as to when you realistically want those goals to be reality. Then, through a simple process of division, you can calculate how much needs to be generated annually, monthly, weekly or even daily in order to reach your goals.

Analyze your current sales, looking at things like your average job size, number of jobs per day, typical expenses, and any overhead costs. With this information you can calculate your profitability and determine just how much you need to grow to achieve your goals. You can tell, for example, about how soon you need to add crews or equipment in order to have the capability to meet your growth goals.

This daily business time can also be used to create written company policies, job descriptions, and procedures. You can also use this time to track your business in its daily activities and monitor things like supply usage, advertising results, or frequency of complaints. By putting everything into an organized package you are better able to see what, if anything, is falling through the cracks.

An hour each day doesn't seem like much time to do all this, but if you keep the time reserved and honor the commitment, you'll be surprised at how quick that single hour grows to six per week, 26 per month, 312 a year! You also may surprise yourself in that, once you get past the initial barriers of getting started, you will find additional windows of time to work on your business.

If you don't have an hour at the beginning of each day, get up an hour earlier and create one. It's that important! No body ever plans to fail, but many fail to plan. The late Ralph Bloss, a respected industry figure, once said, " If you don't know where you are going, you'll never know when you get there."

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Without the proper planning, that's just where you will find yourself. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone a little and do something different. Set aside an hour each day to work on your business. You'll be glad you did.