Jean has been a home-based business owner for a number of years. She has gained valuable experience and insight along the way.
13 Ways to Enhance Your Business Success
Working for yourself can be very rewarding, but you must be disciplined enough to get things done without getting overly stressed or burned out. When you get stressed you tend to back away from what needs to be done, until suddenly it becomes urgent and you are managing crisis after crisis. There is only you, and if you don't do it, success could be difficult. Here are 13 ways to successfully grow your business.
1. Set Your Priorities
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a master at accomplishing his life goals and he lived by the principle, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” There are a lot of people out there that have this knack of describing clearly and succinctly solid business principles that we can carry forward into our personal lives.
Stephen Covey is one of them. In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which is divided into four sections. It is a very simple way to set up your priorities. There are four categories of potential work items, They are:
Urgent and Important
- Paying a bill that is due now
- Medical and accidental emergencies
- Certain emails
- Car breakdown
- An order that is lost or hasn't arrived
- Tax deadlines
- Issues with your children
- Home appliance breakdown
Not Urgent and Important
- Business and personal planning
- Exercising and quality downtime
- Ordering supplies
- Market research
- Skill Improvement
- Car and home maintenance
- Customer service
- Filling orders
- Goal setting
- Date nights
Urgent and Not Important
- Phone calls
- Most emails
- Text messages
- People dropping by during working hours
Not Urgent and Not Important
- Browsing social media
- Answering trivial emails
- Watching TV
- Surfing the web
- Online shopping
- Boredom snacking
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix Explained
2. Plan Your Work Day
Every activity to do with your business will fit into one of the above categories. Every day put everything you perceive you have to do into one of them. If you spend a few minutes each day working on the Quadrant 1 activities before they become so urgent and important you have to manage the crisis now, then you can spend most of your time in Quadrant 2, which is where Covey says you should be, to be effective in your business. What may not have been urgent and important yesterday, may be so today just because you didn't fit it into your to-do list for yesterday. If you are working "on your business" today, things that are important will be different than when you are working "in your business."
You Can Find Customers in Many Ways
3. Budget Your Time
Everything may take longer than you perceive it will. Have reasonable expectations of yourself and realize that things that are not urgent and not important should not be at or near the top of your priority list. If you don't know what you should be doing, draw a decision matrix and try to fill in the blanks as best you can. Covey says we spend most of our time in Quadrant 3, thinking we are working in Quadrant 1. It is important to realize that Quadrant 3 tasks are only important to others, and being overly nice and accommodating by spending a lot of time there can be at the expense of your business.
All four quadrants are important for different reasons, but they must be prioritized wisely so the things that grow you and your business happen in a timely manner.
Part-time or Full-time?
4. Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind
Another brilliant business mind, Douglas Rushkoff, talks about how we become so involved in the present moment and the bombardment of incoming information that we experience "present shock." In this pattern, we lose sight of our long-term goals and directions and are constantly reactive to what's going on right now. In this state, the lines become blurred between what is really important and what looks urgent and we lose our focus.
Giving ourselves a reality check every morning to see that we are still on track in our goal management keeps us from wandering too far from the road to success.
5. Get the Unpleasant Tasks Out of the Way
We all seem to do what we like to do, rather than what we don't like to do but needs to get done. Mark Twain was quoted as saying “If the worst thing you had to do every morning was to eat a frog and you did it and got it over with, the rest of your day would seem wonderful.” So just do whatever that frog represents to you and get it over with. Then you can reward yourself with why you are in business in the first place.
If the worst thing you had to do every morning was to eat a frog and you did it and got it over with, the rest of your day would seem wonderful.
— Mark Twain
6. Treat the Customer Right
Without traffic to your website and to your business in general, you have nothing to grow on. Everything you do should be geared to attracting new customers and keeping the ones you have. They are like guests in your home. If you ignore them or treat them poorly, they will not come back. If you don't have what they want, or be able to satisfy a specific need they have, then they will find it somewhere else. By focusing on specific needs rather than carpet-bombing the whole spectrum of needs, you will be more likely to develop a rabid and loyal following.
7. Designate a "Working on Your Business" Day
- Developing marketing strategies
- Product development
- Continue developing and implementing the business plan
- Product creation
8. Designate "Working in Your Business" Times
- Answering the phone
- Answering emails
- Filling orders
- Marketing implementation
9. Market Your Business
What would happen if you developed your business idea and your marketing of it, around a very specific niche within a wider product market? When you can cater to a specific target market and then anticipate and satisfy those customer needs you can accomplish and exceed your marketing goals. The trick is to deliver your message in the right places, which these days happens to be online and on social media. Budgeting and planning social media campaigns in a timely manner is important so you don't get swallowed up in the sea of social interactions.
10. Keep Your Accounting Up to Date
Keeping your receipts filed and your bookkeeping up to date may be something you want to hire out. Recording all relevant financials and keeping them up to date is time-consuming and not everyone's cup of tea. It may be worthwhile to bring in a bookkeeper one day a month to help keep the shoebox under control. If your financials fit into the Quadrant 4 box, it's time to put finding a bookkeeper into your Quadrant 2, before it becomes a Quadrant 1 emergency.
11. Keep It Efficient
Many a business mind plans for tomorrow at the end of today. Dividing tasks into the decision matrix helps to keep you on track so that you can actually spend a small amount of time doing Quadrant 4 activities towards the end of your day while setting your business on the fast track for success.
12. Research the Competition
It is always wise to find out what small and large like-minded businesses are doing and how they are doing it. Mimicking them is only wise if what they are doing is effective. There are many online tools that show how many hits their website gets, and so on, too many to mention here. Google can be your best friend or your best time waster, but stats can be very useful in developing your business.
13. Learn to Avoid Common Pitfalls
Whether your business is a part-time or a full-time venture, you only have so much time to devote to it. It is so easy to get involved in things that do not grow or improve you or your business.
What you want to sell to people, be it a product or a service, may not be what people want to buy. Without the proper research you could end up treading water with no rescue in sight.
It is also easy to constantly snack on foods that may not be the best for you, or sit in your office chair for hours without getting up and getting some exercise. Be sure to take quality breaks, eat nutritious food, and spend quality time with your loved ones.
If you think you don't have enough time, you are probably spending too much time doing the wrong things. With proper planning and conscious awareness you can get most things done and still have time for yourself and your family. Looking after yourself helps your business grow faster while you are spending most of your time in Quadrant 2.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.