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Skills pay the bills

If you’re not getting the results you want from your business, there are core skills you can work on to redress that, says Brett Davidson

Are you getting the results you want from your business? If you’re not, ask yourself what flow-on effects this is having on your life. That might provide you with the motivation you need to revisit some core skills.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different outcome. So you need to be honest with yourself. Is it time to change a few habits to try and generate a different and better outcome for yourself?

If it is, then read on.

I don’t know about you, but when I look back over my career there were times when I just worked really hard. I’m not sure if it was conscious or not, but clearly the underlying belief was that “once I get on top of things, it will all be better.” I wasn’t loving working really hard, although I was prepared to put some hard yards in to generate a future payback.

The danger with this approach is that one can forget what all the hard work was supposed to create.

If you find yourself still stuck in the working-hard situation, never quite coming out the other side, then here is something specific to work on: your business management skills.

1. It all starts with the business plan

If you don’t know where you’re going then it doesn’t really matter which path you take. How can you make focused and smart decisions without a clear goal in mind? You can’t.

And with limited time and resources it goes without saying that you’ll need to keep your activities to those that will make the biggest difference.

You’d be amazed how many firms don’t have a business plan, or if they do, it’s only partially completed.

So if you don’t have one, set aside a day or two and create one. Get some help if you need to.

Your business plan will get you to set between three and seven goals for the 12 months. Meaty goals, that when you achieve them, will have laid a foundation for the next 12 months, and the 12 months after that.

Setting a financial target won’t be one of these big goals. The 12-month goals need to be things that will make your business better for the future. You can hit your financial targets every quarter and still have a business that’s not going anywhere new.

Yes, you can have a financial goal as part of your business plan, but set other objectives that improve your underlying business. Focus on addressing the inputs that will generate better outputs (results) in the future.

2. Quarterly objectives

Once you’ve got your annual goals in place you need to decide what you are going to work on this coming quarter. The 90-day cycle seems to work really well. It’s long enough to get stuff done, but not so long that you drift.

The same rules apply; choose between three and seven goals for the quarter, and remember less is more, so three or four is perfectly adequate for most businesses. These goals need to be reviewed every single week to see if they are on-track or off-track; will they be completed by the end of the quarter?

If they are off-track, they get discussed at your weekly meeting and steps are taken to progress the goal to get it back on track. This way it can be completed by the end of the quarter.

If you don’t look at these goals every week, you can find yourself six weeks into a quarter realising you have no chance to get done what you said you would do. You start drifting. Don’t make that mistake.

3. Weekly leadership team meetings

The next piece of your business management puzzle is holding effective weekly meetings for you and your leadership team. If you’re a small firm that’s you and your administrator. If you’re a larger firm it is the directors and your practice manager.

The main focus of that meeting, after checking in with a few regular metrics and ensuring your quarterly objectives are on track, is solving issues. You do this by creating a dynamic Issues List that sits online so anyone can add to it. At each weekly meeting you choose one or two of those issues and work through them. Some issues can be signed off as they are resolved each week, or are no longer considered an issue, and new ones get added as you and your team spot something else that doesn’t quite work.

The best process I’ve seen for weekly meetings is the ‘Level 10 Meeting’ outlined in Traction by Gino Wickman.

There is a crucial skill that you need to learn to run this meeting effectively; namely, spending a lot of time identifying the real issue before simply moving into discussion and solutions mode. It’s called IDS and stands for Identify, Discuss, Solve. It’s very powerful when used correctly.

Businesses that solve issues move forward. Businesses that don’t stay stuck. This is the purpose of your weekly leadership team meeting; to solve issues every week and to walk them forward in baby steps.

4. Weekly and daily planning

The final piece of your puzzle is to ensure that you are focused and productive every single day.

At FP Advance we use a process taken from a programme called Savour the Success by Angela Jia Kim. In essence, it gets you to list everything that needs to be done this week (do that Sunday night or Monday morning) and to pick the three things that will give you the biggest jump forward that week. Many of the other things on the list will get done too, but those three key objectives are the main focus.

The same applies to the daily planning with the three most important (and often challenging) jobs done first thing each day. You also do three other tasks each day that sow seeds for your business down the track. This mix of doing what matters most every day, as well as sowing seeds for the future, is a perfect recipe for progress.

There’s plenty more in the Savour the Success process and I recommend the course highly.

Follow the Plan

The key point in whatever approach you use to managing your business, is that you follow it. Establishing this daily, weekly, quarterly and annual planning discipline is what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the rest because it ensures they stay focused on what matters. If discipline isn’t your number one strength, then make sure there is someone on your team who keeps you on track or manages this process for you.

Good business management skills are essential if you want to achieve all of your business potential.

Visit the FP Advance website

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