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3 Ways Efficient Business Systems Lead to Consistent Growth

gearimageA flurry of increased activity at the beginning of the year is hopefully paying off for your business by now. If the additional tasks haven’t completely consumed you, you have hopefully taken the time to sort out the wheat from the chafe; that is, you’ve decided which new activities are effective and which you need to modify or discontinue. Once you know the strategies that are working, the next step is to build a system around those strategies to make them “easy”.

A business system is defined as an organized and coordinated method to reach a goal. I like to insert the words “easily repeatable”, or ideally “automatically repeatable”; that’s where the magic happens. Business growth strategies that are cumbersome, awkward, or time-consuming quickly become dropped, especially when business picks up. Once the business generating strategy is stopped, business slows down. We then realize that we need to drum up more business, we reinstate the process, we get busy, and the cycle begins again. This leads to a roller-coaster type cycle of business and it is exhausting.

To make your business generating tasks easily (or automatically) repeatable, here are some simple, low-cost solutions:

  1. Hire someone to do the task for you.  For as little as $36/week (3 hours), you can hire an independent contractor whose sole responsibility is to perform that task – whether it is to find and contact leads, make social media posts on your behalf, or manage a referral rewards program.
  2. Automate the task to make it easier, or even better, automate it completely. For example:
    1. Use HootSuite or TweetDeck to schedule your social media posts.
    2. ReferralCandy can manage your referral rewards campaign. Once this is in place, it happens without any interaction by you.
    3. Create a recurring, evergreen prospect “touch” system. One of the simplest ways to do that is to use SendOut Cards (if you don’t already have a SendOut Cards account, you need to create one at www.sendoutcards.com). Schedule cards to be mailed to prospects with your personal messages and your own handwriting.
    4. Schedule the task into your calendar in an easy manner. For example:
      1. Call three prospects every Monday.
      2. Reach out to 3 prior customers every Tuesday.
      3. Engage with 3 current customers for a deeper, more meaningful conversation every day; find out what additional needs and wants they have.
      4. Schedule lunch with a center of influence every Friday.

Developing these business growth strategies into habits is easy when you are committed to your goal; make sure that your goal is on target for you.

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Break Free, Part 2 – Taking the Next Step

Even when we feel we're stuck between a rock and a hard place, we still have to move forward!

Even when we feel we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, we still have to move forward!

 

 

All too often, we set goals at the beginning of a new year and then about mid-March, we realize that we are nowhere close to reaching those goals. We’ve thought a lot about those goals, debated them, thought about what the next step should be, and wondered if we really have what it takes to succeed. I’ve been thinking a lot about simply moving forward (see last week’s post). I’m here to tell you that yes, you do have what it takes, and it’s simpler than you think: all you have to do is take the next logical step.

I’ve been meeting with some prospective clients recently who were so excited about their new 2014 goals and the plans to reach them; I could hear the possibility in their voices. When I ask them about the progress they’ve made, I’ve seen surprise as two things happen:

  1. It sinks in that they haven’t been keeping track of their progress, and;
  2. They realize that they have made very little, if any, progress and it’s almost 25% through the year.

Blah.

Before I give you my tried and true strategy of getting out of this position, let me just state some assumptions:

  • The goal is their own goal, not their spouse’s, a parent, or a goal declared by an “expert”;
  • The goal is big enough. We hear about “big bodacious” goals; that’s a nice catchy phrase, but if it’s so big that it paralyzes you, it’s not much of a goal;
  • The goal is small enough. I love big goals, but if we can’t see any path from where we are to our stated goal, it might need to be downsized. As Goldilocks famously said, “This one is just right.” Personally, goals ought to teeter right on the line of scary and exciting. Reaching those goals is a rush for motivated small business owners.

If those assumptions are true, the strategy is simple:

Just take the next logical step.

Repeat.

When I’m feeling stuck, or just not sure what to do with the next hour, I ask myself that simple question, “What’s the next logical step?” It’s usually asking a question, sending an inquiry, writing a first draft of something – all simple, doable actions. If the next logical step requires some research, give yourself a time limit or it’s easy to get lost in the infamous “Internet research”. 20 minutes is plenty. If you find yourself fast-forwarding to possible outcomes of that one single action, bring yourself back to present and remind yourself that you are only focused on that one action.

Find a goal that’s right and true for you and focus on just that one next logical step. We’ve heard the message many times, but it’s true: every journey does begin with a step. All you have to do is keep going. 

 

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.