Next time you are in a pet store go and watch the hamsters carefully. They climb aboard their little round treadmill and will happily go round and round for hours and hours. Notice that they don’t actually go anywhere! I’m betting that you might be in the same situation. You are busy, you are on the proverbial treadmill in your own business or in someone else’s business and you aren’t going anywhere either. You aren’t actually getting anything done beyond busy work, administrative details, minutia.
I’m not suggesting that the details don’t have to get done, I am simply saying that they aren’t generally the profitable pieces or the truly productive pieces. For example, for every 20-30 emails you read, there might be one or two that have present and future value. These represent opportunities to follow up on quickly and move forward, but instead you get bogged down in the minutia of the other 19 or 29 (or a lot more) and that gets shoved aside. You are “busy” getting it all done, when in fact you will get far more done, and go farther when you do less. Focus on those activities, tasks, emails, contacts, networking events, and more that will bring you your desired result.
Here are 3 simple, but not necessarily easy, steps you can take to get out of the poverty trap of BUSY and step into the profitable track of productive.
#1 Stop Networking! It’s one letter away from NOTworking.
I can hear you breathing a sigh of relief already, you hated going but you did it because it meant you were “busy.” Notice not necessarily productive, and unfortunately rarely profitable if ever. For networking to be productive and stop resembling it’s popular sidekick notworking it has to move you and your business forward. To make that happen take the time to assess each networking group you belong to. Are these people that are truly good referral sources for your business? In turn are you good referral sources for them? If the answer isn’t YES to both questions, then you need to step out and find new events, associations, organizations, masterminds, and more to explore that are. It isn’t enough just to provide good sources to others, they need to do the same for you. And it can’t be a one way street, so if you aren’t able to give, it is unlikely you are going to get much. It isn’t about networking, it’s about NETWEAVING and GO GIVING.
By the way, I know many business owners and professionals who attend networking events 3+ nights a week, many of them are struggling in their business because these are notworking events! If you want to kill time, keep doing what you’ve been doing. There is a better way.
#2 Stop Reading Email! Real results require real contact.
First you have to tame the email beast, that means you aren’t checking constantly on your Iphone or crackberry. There is no badge of honor that goes to those who claim they are always within reach. Limit access, you are with it. Check your email no more than 2-3 times a day, it’s a business tool, make it part of your schedule. It doesn’t define your schedule or your day. Take charge. And realize that the faster you can move business from virtual and email to reality and voice, the faster you are likely to build a real relationship for real results. Email is a tool, not a solution and too often it is just another wall between you and your prospect. To turn them into a client, talk to them voice to voice and face to face (when possible.)
Yes, I know you may be in online marketing, never underestimate the power of a 5 minute call to your most loyal subscribers and frequent buyers, they will be thrilled with the personal attention and spread your word even farther. Barring this you can allow a forum like a teleseminar to create that sense of one on one with many.
#3 Stop Winging It! Success happens according to a plan.
I know it is easy to fly by the seat of your pants, many business owners and professionals choose this path. Sitting down and planning feels hard because it means creating a structure for your success; it means defining that flexible roadmap to get there. The key word here is flexible. No plan is set in stone, you can alter it, adjust it, tweak it, improve it when you have metrics to measure your results. (You do have metrics don’t you? If not how will you know what you’ve achieved?) Take the time to work ON your business or you are absolutely guaranteed to get buried IN in. There is a BIG difference.
I speak with hundreds of business owners every year, I work with a select few. Those I work with, get it. They understand clearly that no matter how challenging times are and regardless of where they are in business, the planning of their success has to come before any action. Action without a plan is noise. Noise isn’t profitable, it’s just loud.
In many of the conversations I have with business owners, I hear “when I have time,” “if I only had time,” “I’m too busy,” and similar statements. These are all simply excuses and sabotage to avoid the real work of business. You have a choice, you can stay stuck where you are in busy or lift yourself out of that muck and step up to productive and profitable. Which will you choose?
Your comments are welcome and invited always!