Nearly everyone is guilty of at least one of two time-management pitfalls:
I count myself amongst the many. Symptoms include a ‘to-do-list’ with the same tasks appearing week after week after month, and regularly lamenting, ‘Why on earth am I racing against the clock again? I thought I had allowed plenty of time.’
The 4 Week Planner tackles the second symptom. (You can download one from the link at the bottom). However, I have to warn you, creating a clear picture of just how much time you really have is often shocking, at least initially. If you can hold your nerve, it will pay off. You’ll prioritise, you’ll learn to say ‘no’ and you’ll start to create more realistic expectations – for others you work with and for yourself.
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Let’s take an example. Your business is a general car repair garage which has seen a steady decline in sales. A typical, instinctive response would be to increase marketing to raise awareness and possibly tempt new customers with a price promotion. But what if, when you looked further, there had been a series of poor customer reviews? What if those reviews all pointed to surly customer service where promised call-backs weren’t made, the paper work detailing repairs was incorrect and bookings had been made for the wrong dates and times. It’s an obvious example of where the investment in improvement needs to be directed to customer service rather than marketing, at least initially.
For any business we would want to see all areas working well, all of the time. However, what should you tackle first when you have limited resources?
There are traditionally two reasons why you would want to write a business plan:
While the first reason is externally focused, I think that the second reason, the internally focused one, has so much potential to be used to even greater effect.
7 ways to make your business plan work:
It’s a question I have often been asked in the context of working with teams to improve their business development processes. 10 years ago I would have said that you can probably train most people in the skills to sell, however, that doesn’t mean they will use them. Negative perceptions of sales, an unwillingness to step outside of their comfort zone and a feeling that ‘it just isn’t me’ would all have worked against putting traditional sales skills into practice.
Twice in the last week I have been served by people wearing earphones. Maddening! In both cases they were from small businesses rather than High Street names. One was the ice cream van man. That was particularly disappointing as the first ice cream of the season from a roaming van is still a mildly exciting traditional event marking the promise of summer! (He carried on talking to the person at the end of the earphones while constructing a particularly nasty sugar concoction.)
Last week I was a coach on a Global Business Partnering programme with a group of senior finance people. How is that relevant, you’re wondering? What struck me most, and it’s not exclusive to this organisation at all, is that the higher up the tree you go the less able you feel to lay bare any gaps in your skills, knowledge or confidence. That is a tall order!
I recently presented at a high profile networking event, full of women in business. The theme was, Achieving Your Extraordinary.
My expectation was that I was being asked to talk about what it takes to run a strong and healthy business. After all, that’s what I help people to do. But no, the brief was – share your story of your extraordinary career. Clearly they had asked the wrong person! I’m no Karren Brady or Jo Malone. I’m good at what I do – see, I don’t have limiting beliefs – but I’m not extraordinary!