As seen in the Coffs Coast Advocate.
Running a business can be an exhausting exercise. You are constantly in motion: fighting fires you never saw coming, staying up late doing your accounts, chasing new business while trying to manage your existing customers. But is all that activity actually building your business’s strength and stamina?
Too often we see business owners who feel like they are on a treadmill but don’t seem to be getting where they want to go. If that sounds at all like you then it’s time to change your fitness program. Get off the treadmill and start building some core strength.
Start by implementing these five “exercises”
1/ Have a plan and write it down
When you start training at the gym, the first thing your trainer will do is create a written action plan for you to follow. Honing your business fitness is no different. In fact, a well considered business plan is the single best way to improve your business health.
We are not talking about a 100-page thesis designed for your bank manager. We mean a clear and simple plan that lays out your vision, goals and key steps you intend to take to reach those goals.
It’s critical that your plan is written down. Not only does this force you to think things through, it also enables you to check back regularly – so when there are a million things on your to-do list, you can refer back to your plan and prioritise accordingly.
2/ Spend one hour every week evaluating what is and isn’t working
Every personal trainer has heard the excuse before: “I don’t have time to work out.” But we all know that if we make fitness a priority we will manage to squeeze in the time to train.
The same applies to business. If you are telling yourself you simply don’t have time to work “on” your business instead of “in” it, then that sounds like an excuse.
Okay, it’s unrealistic to expect a small business owner to invest all (or even most) of their time working “on” the business. There are customers to serve, staff to motivate and fires to fight.
However, it IS realistic to set aside a specific time every week for reviewing your plan and evaluating what’s working and what’s not. As little as an hour a week could help you to stay on plan and keep your business getting stronger.
3/ Start saying no
It’s important to realise that you are the primary engine that drives your business. If you run out of steam, there goes your business fitness.
As a motivated, energetic small business owner you have probably been saying “yes” to everything for years. As well as running your business you may run the local Rotary, help out at your children’s school play and be lending a hand rebuilding a friend’s deck. How much longer can you keep this up?
Stop saying yes to everything and really evaluate your decision carefully each time someone asks you to do something, take on another role or add a new responsibility.
Take some time to review the commitments you have currently. Chances are you are already over committed and this is affecting the health of your business. It may be time to shed some of these responsibilities!
4/ Set boundaries – no more answering emails at midnight
Any good personal trainer will tell you that rest is just as important as a work out when it comes to improving fitness. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to take advantage of every possible moment to build your business. We all need space to rest, restore and find perspective. Answering emails at midnight, taking client calls on Sunday morning and working every weekend is not going to make your business stronger.
We are not saying you shouldn’t work hard. But establish some clear boundaries and stick to them. Set clear office hours and make your clients aware of them. If you work from home ensure that your office space is separated from your living space. Commit yourself to set work hours and only exceed these hours in exceptional circumstances.
5/ Don’t go it alone – join a group or get a coach
Anyone who has ever committed to get up early and go for a run knows it’s easier to keep that promise if you are training with a mate or working with a personal trainer.
We strongly recommend that you find support: someone to hold you to account and to share the journey. Consider joining a business group in the community or online, or find a mentor or business coach.
If you are really serious about getting your business into the best shape possible, then invest in a business coach. Much like a personal trainer pushes you to work harder, a business coach helps you to step outside your comfort zone. You will find yourself doing things you once thought too hard.
Just as a trainer makes you responsible for achieving your personal goals, a business coach holds you to account for building the business you have envisioned. You will find yourself turning your best ideas into reality.
Whether it’s personal fitness or business health, the key to success is continuity. While your business pulls you in a million different directions, a good business coach will keep pulling you back to your goals, increasing your business strength and stamina over time.
Not sure how healthy your business is? Try our Business Fitness Test.