As a business owner – an entrepreneur – we can spend a lot of time plotting and planning out our business goals. Which is good to a point as we definitely need to have a clear idea of what we’re doing and how we’re going to get there.
But there’s a flipside to all that goal setting and planning. It can quickly become a way for us to feel like we’re doing something but in reality we are avoiding what we need to do to.
I know I’ve definitely been guilty at times of spending so much time planning and organizing that I was wasting valuable time I could have spent working on my goals.
Classic avoidance, right? It’s way more fun in many situations to plan than to do the hard work required to make it happen.
So as you work on your weekly, monthly or quarterly plan, here are some of my favorite ideas to keep you in action mode and focused on accomplishing your business goals (instead of just planning):
#1. Have Set Days/Times for Planning & Organizing
Planning mode can easily become a default as anytime we’re feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, we decide we need to get organized. Next thing you know, that planning can turn into a new set of goals and you end up burning two hours that you didn’t have to waste.
The best way to stop falling into a planning trap is to have set time in your schedule when you plan and get organized. For example, every Monday morning, I sit down and set up my week so I know what needs to happen in a given week.
At the end of each month, Brittany and I review all of our business goals to reset as needed. We discovered in February that a few of our goals were already out of the way, and that a few needed to be recalibrated. We also have a quarterly planning process that we do together at a set day/time each quarter so we don’t fall into randomly planning when the mood strikes us.
#2. Build Accountability Into Your Plans
Over the years I’ve been in business, I can see a marked difference between times when I was operating as a solo show and when I had someone I was accountable to.
The reality for me – and for many of us – is that we started our business because we wanted flexibility and freedom. We wanted to be able to roll with things as they happen, but sometimes that’s bad for business.
That’s where accountability comes in. For your big goals, you need someone else to know what you’re working on to help stay on track.
This can be as simple as someone who you do a quick check in with once a week, a coach or even a mastermind group. The key is that you have someone that will help keep you from flaking out.
#3. Limit the Number of Goals that You Set
I know, I know, you’re ambitious and you want to take the world by storm. But here’s the thing – when you set way too many goals, you set yourself up for serious overwhelm.
It may feel counter-intuitive, but setting a few top line goals (I like to stick with three each quarter) makes it much easier to make an impact. You can make progress much faster with only a handful of goals versus having a list of 10 you’re trying to work on.
Not convinced? Working in short periods with a focused vision is the same strategy that Olympic athletes use to improve their performance. If it’s good for an elite athlete, it’s good for our business too.
#4. Make Client Work Needs to Be Part of the Plan
Here’s a hard truth that was a game changer for me, once I learned it. When you work with clients, your business is different as you have difference pressures on your time and you need to plan for it.
Usually when I get into trouble with accomplishing my business goals, it was because I didn’t have a firm grip on all the things competing for my time. By adjusting my goal setting process to include client service related goals, and planning my weeks to include time blocks for client work, I was better prepared for how my time would really be spent.
#5. Ditch the Busywork
This should probably be number one on the list, along with the rest of the tips. This one is of critical importance as it’s an area that I see the majority of service business owners being sucked into.
Busywork tricks us into thinking we’re doing all the right things when really we’re just filling up our time with tasks that aren’t actually helping us find, book and wow clients.
For example, spending three months building a website before you ever have a client, or wasting time on creating a course when you’re just starting out – that’s busywork. (Check out this post for the tasks you should be focusing on to move your services business ahead.)
#6. Stop Comparing Yourself
We’ve heard all the platitudes about comparing ourselves to others, and we know we shouldn’t compare, but yet, we still do it.
It’s next to impossible not to compare ourselves when we see a steady stream of Facebook ads, Instagram posts and other content telling us we’re missing something. Suddenly, we find ourselves thinking we’re not *insert appropriate word here” enough and we get down on ourselves.
In these conditions, how do we stop comparing ourselves and focus on our goals?
Awareness is half the battle. We need to get wise to how the content we consume impacts us, and then we need to shut that shit down.
That may be unsubscribing from emails, hiding Facebook ads, or anything else to cut the things that trigger us. Pay attention to how you feel when comparisons pops up, and get particular about where, how and what you consume.
#7. Embrace Patience
Every so often I would get this weird feeling that I’m missing something in my business. It’s inexplicable but I would have this sense that there’s a piece of the puzzle I’m overlooking.
For years I’d try to figure out what I was missing and start throwing extra things at the wall. Hello, distraction.
The result of these jaunts into Distractionville is that I’d be derailed from the business goals I’d already committed to. I’d waste so much time chasing after something and end up putting the important stuff on hold in the meantime.
I finally realized that the root of this feeling was actually a lack of patience. I’d be triggered by something and then find myself riddled with a serious case of “why not me” as I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
Embracing patience is a constant, ongoing test for me, but being able to focus on the goals I’ve committed to, and just knowing things will happen as they should, has helped me accomplish more.
#8. Learn to Ask for Help
Running your business and being a boss means you’re good at getting things done, and you’re probably pretty good at doing things on your own.
You may even be fiercely independent (like I am) and prepared to do whatever it takes to make things work.
But all that independence can actually be a liability and stand in the way of making your goals happen. While you’re stubbornly trying to do it ALL on your own, you’re wasting time, creating more work for yourself and generally making it harder that it needs to be.
The help you may need will vary greatly, but if you’re the boss, you need help of some kind to move things ahead. It may be finding a mentor or joining a mastermind, but different perspectives, viewpoints and people who’ve “been there, done that” can go a long way to making your boss life easier.