As another year kicks off, it’s that time of year when the majority of your planning is well and truly done. And, now people are reflecting on what was achieved last year and what this year has in store. This often shows that we’ve left a few things on the table. Maybe you didn’t quite get your new website finished, maybe you missed out on that one big client or that marketing campaign didn’t get started.
What I have found, both internally and with clients, is there is one common excuse that always crops up when we ask what the barriers to achieving goals were… “we’ve just been too busy, it’s been a huge year”. It almost comes across as if some people are not just using ‘busy’ as an excuse, instead, they are proud to say, ‘we’ve been too busy’.
I talk to a lot of people, clients, staff, contacts and it’s like being busy is something to be proud of, “I haven’t taken a holiday in 2 years there is just so much happening” is another favourite of mine. In all honesty, I strongly believe that being ‘too busy’ isn’t something we should be proud of. In fact, more often than not, I think it is a shameful excuse and a cop-out.
As business owners or people in senior positions, we are constantly being pulled in several different directions. Everything seems to be mission-critical and our to-do lists are more an ongoing commentary full of what other people need.
I’m not immune to this way of thinking, in the past I’ve definitely worn the ‘busy’ badge with honour. I foolishly thought it was something to go home at the end of each week and be proud of. However, over the past few years, as BBT has grown and as our team has evolved, we have realised that the notion of being too busy is often a sign that internal improvements need to be made.
Now, I’m not saying we should all aim to take several long vacations and take our foot off the gas. What I am saying, is that there is a difference between running around like your hair is on fire (trust me, I have none) and taking a step back to reevaluate your position, priorities what is important and then design and implement the appropriate steps.
We currently live in the best age for entrepreneurs, we are more connected than ever, information and idea sharing is at an all-time high and the technology available to us has never been more advanced. However, what this has given way to is the 24-hour hustle mentality, which is fueled by social media entrepreneurs who preach that hustling and grinding 24/7 is the only way to achieve success. While a handful will be successful, many that share this mentality won’t. Many in fact, will burn out, start to resent their business and eventually they will be the reason for its failure.
This reminds me of the classic lumberjack story. Long story short, there was once two lumberjacks, one of them challenged the other to a battle to see who could chop down more trees in a day. Challenge accepted!
Competition day rolls around. One of the lumberjacks comes out with a hiss and a roar, vigorously chopping down trees. The other took a methodical approach, going to work for 45-minutes and resting for 15-minutes. At the end of the day, tallies were counted and the lumberjack who rested for 15-minutes every hour won by a decent amount. Moral of the story, work smarter, not harder. Take a short break to reboot, reevaluate and sharpen your blade, then get back to work.
As I said, I am guilty of having this mentality, especially when BBT was young. I was the person who was working 20 plus hour days, always online and thought sleep was wasting time. Idiotic really, no one starts a business to be chained to a desk, that is no way to live.
What I have seen and learnt, as the business grows, is it needs to work very hard not to become stale and stuck, reaching a ceiling as to what we are capable of, because “we are all just so busy”. Instead, we should constantly be on the lookout for ways we can evolve and improve. By implementing tools and processes to manage the day-to-day operations of your business, you’ll be in a position to focus on growing the business.
So as we start another year spinning around the sun, take a look at the business and look at how you can start working smarter. Consider the following.
Stop being a control freak and learn to trust people. One of my biggest struggles in building BBT was letting go. But chances are, you’re not the best at what your business does. You know the companies vision, its mission and where it is heading, but you’re probably not an expert in marketing, accounting or design. Find people that are experts in these fields, inspire them and empower them to do what they do best.
Owners have a lot going on and while we may think we can do everything, we can’t. There are very few tasks that can’t be managed and improved by a sound handover and a bit of trust. By allowing people to learn the ropes and manage business operations, you’ll have more time to focus on what you do best – driving the business forward.
As you grow, constantly look for ways to improve your processes. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking because one process has got you this far, it will help you take the next step. Implement processes that will provide your entire team complete visibility. This will ensure your business as the vehicle it needs to move forward.
Ultimately, you’re losing key opportunities by being ‘too busy’. Every minute you are concentrating on the rudimental tasks, which someone else could do, is a lead lost, which is another meeting not had, which is another client that is not paying you. You add that up over time, there might not be much time left.
As Thomas Edison once said “Seeming to do, is not doing”. Stop wearing busy as a badge of honour like it’s something to be proud of. Instead, trim the fat and focus on what is important.