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Why structure is important

Look, I know, I get it; creating a list of strategic tasks for the next six months when it’s just you in your business may not only feel like the most boring thing you could do but also a little¬† weird and pointless.

I’m going to assume you have your own business, which is why you’re here. I’m going to make some guesses about how things are going, let’s see how close I get.

Things are going ok; you’re making money and whilst some months are better than others it’s generally good. You have some ideas on how to move forward but each day, week, month or year goes by and you don’t seem to have done any of those things. It’s ok, you tell yourself, this year has just been busy. Next year you’ll get to those things not to worry. Sound familiar? Well I’m going to also guess this will happen more and more. Crucial opportunities may be missed… you make suddenly look up form your day to day and discover you lost part of your market because someone else brought out that same idea you had six months ago but never got around to implementing.

Discuss what is happening and why it is happening

This is why creating just enough structure within your business is actually more important if it’s just you than perhaps you realise. When there is more than one of you, the chances are you already has a person that falls into the leadership role; you already have regular meetings, which someone probably minutes, and you discuss what is going well and what isn’t.

When you work for yourself, finding a way to replicate this process feels really unnatural (who has a meeting with themselves for crying out loud ?!) and can be quite tough but believe me when I say it will add value to your business overnight by allowing yourself to step back and look at what is really happening, what is coming down the road and what you want to achieve with your very precious time.

What structure should I add?

So here are some ideas on how to get that structure into your life and start working with it on a day to day basis.

  1. Spend 20 minutes looking at your important metrics. Do you sell things? Is website traffic important? If you don’t know the answer to these questions get yourself over to my Strategy Document and get started there. Once you know what metrics are important look at how you record them. Do you have a spreadsheet? How do you know what you sold? How do you know if that’s a good or a bad number? Find a way to record what matters and to assess the number then look at it every week to find out how you are doing. Record your thoughts next to the number… every week (or month if that is more relevant to your particular business timeframes)
  2. Download and use my Weekly Planner spreadsheet. Print it off and keep it by your workstation / desk and look at it, use it, scribble on it and bring it to life every day. Suddenly find yourself with 5 minutes to think? What’s coming up on your planner? What do you need to prepare for? What could you spend 5 minutes on, today, that will save you time in the future?
  3. Schedule a meeting with yourself. No, I’m not joking. Put aside an hour a month to look at all of your information and look at the bigger picture of what is happening. Reference your Strategy. Look at your metrics spreadsheet. Review your Competitor analysis. What has happened this month? Which activity was good? Which was bad? How could you do things differently? What are the priorities for the coming month? Are there distractions? What do you want to achieve in the next 4 weeks? Then write down what you find… keep doing that and soon you will have a clearer picture of your business.
  4. Set aside time for your admin. Put in a slot in your diary for, say, invoicing, and stick to it. This means you don’t have to remember that an invoice needs doing at some point this week – when you sit down at 5pm to do invoices everyday this will get covered off. Get rid of distractions and set aside a realistic amount of time; you probably won’t manage a whole hour every day but you might manage 15 minutes.

To start with you will need to be rigid with yourself (don’t skip those meetings!) and you may feel a little silly but after not very long at all you’ll begin to wonder how you managed to cope before.

Have you implemented any structure? What do you struggle keeping on top of?