How many times have you heard the age-old saying ‘work smarter, not harder’? Most of us are working longer than 45-50 hours a week and still find ourselves inundated with tasks, meetings and not to mention a flood gate of emails that consume our inbox, time and energy. This leaves us postponing strategic and business development opportunities.
While it’s true that being an entrepreneur requires dedication and tenacity, just as conventional employees can find ways to work smarter rather than harder, so can business owners.
Christine Carter, Ph.D and author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work and Raising Happiness, argues that when we’re too busy, we experience a cognitive overload. “An overloaded brain hinders performance. It impairs our ability to think creatively, plan, organize, innovate, solve problems, make decisions, resist temptations, learn new things easily, speak fluently, remember important social information and control our emotions,” says Carter.
I say, it is time to take stock, sit back, and reset your pace as to gain clear headspace of where you and your business are heading.
A look at the numbers
A good way to start is to look at the numbers. A deep-dive into the numbers can unravel what consumes your resources, which products/services are rendering the best ROI, and may uncover inefficiencies that you would otherwise not be aware of or tried to deny. The caveat is when turnover is hitting over ten million a year and clients are on-boarded on a quarterly basis but the bottom-line remains static.
Numbers never lie and free us from any emotional ties to any products/services, like those we feel so strongly towards, ‘our babies’ or rather the products we worked so hard to develop. Ultimately, we need to look at numbers with humility and an open mind as well as a willingness to make changes.
Medium-sized companies are constantly looking for the sweet spot. What is the ideal turnover in relation to the size of a company’s operational infrastructure? Which is the ideal management structure to sustain the day-to-day running of the operation? Should one outsource specific managerial tasks until the company reaches the required critical mass? Where are the operational inefficiencies?
Businesses must resolve these conundrums until the sweet spot is identified. The three main pillars we have focused on when working with clients seeking to reset their pace, revolve around the following:
The business development unit within your company is crucial in identifying and seizing any opportunities present in the industry which could lead to product/service development as well as the acquisition of new clients.
To remain relevant, as a business owner you need to understand the trends in the market and identify whether your product is relevant to these shifts. And if not, what could be done to update your services/products. Can you carry out quick-wins? Will it consume more of your time and therefore will it be useful to employ or dedicate a resource to making these developments?
The fulcrum to determining business development success is your and your team’s ability to LISTEN before reacting and providing a solution to a potential client. Unfortunately, industries are brimming with overenthusiastic sales persons, who overzealously over-sell their product, without a prior understanding of the needs of the person in front of them. Therefore, mentor and empower business development managers, encourage them to make connections, and to attend events to encounter new business opportunities.
Investing in business development also takes the form of boosting Marketing efforts. These could include revamping a website, producing more newsworthy updates to engage your audience on your LinkedIn or Facebook account but may also require a budget dedicated to attending trade shows, networking events and business conferences.
A deep dive into the numbers will allow you to understand where the most effort is being placed. Upon understanding how the operations of your business works, it is important to actually map out these processes so as to ensure a streamlined approach across the organisation. Consult with your ICT team or partners to understand whether certain processes could be automated in order to avoid duplication of results.
Sometimes we all so caught up in doing things as we always did that we forget to take a breather and really challenge the status quo. As not to overwhelm one individual with the project, form an operational task force. Whereas the Operations Managers may explain the how certain things are done as they are, the Marketing individual may present a clear graphic representation of the process whilst the HR Manager can help identify how employees’ strengths can be put to good use.
If you truly want to work smarter, you need to take a good, hard look at your daily tasks and learn to prioritize them or delegate them to someone else when necessary. Here, it is always a good idea to employ people who are smarter than you in aspects you feel weak in. Andrew Howlett, CEO/Founder of Digital Transformation company, Rain, couldn’t have said it better when he suggested to “bring in talented people and let them do what they do best!”. As an organization, you won’t grow or succeed when all the work has to be done by the owner/founder/CEO/etc.
Rather than employing the expert, you may decide to outsource them. As the experts at Entrepreneur And Investor so aptly put it, “Outsourcing is a way of accessing the skills you need to get jobs done which will strengthen your business. For start-ups, it is the perfect way to buy the expertise required on an affordable and scalable basis”. In companies with small teams, the trick is to prioritise and focus, whilst accepting the support of outsourced expertise
Customise the product/service offer
Gone are the days when companies would stock a little of each product as to hit the likes of everyone. Those who are truly excelling in today’s marketplaces are companies who anticipate the needs of the future. Specialisation and customisation requires a lot of strategic thinking, as well as a great deal of research and development. Specialising in your strength makes sense. It allows you to focus energy, rendering your business more successful. Remember the other age old saying goes “you cannot be everything to everyone”? or another favourite of mine: “if you try pleasing everyone, you end up pleasing nobody”? However, in order to step up and be ahead of the game, business owners and CEOs need to keep the following questions in check at all times: What is the added value which we are providing to our clients/ customers?
Understanding the needs in the market is no easy task, particularly if you are caught up in a mundane routine which absorbs all your creative energy. This is where The Pace Company steps in. After gaining a good understanding of your strengths as well as the needs in your market, we can help you develop a specialisation strategy and hence identify the sweet spot. Following this we will provide tangible, practical steps, you and your team can take to make it happen. If this sounds like music to your ears, then book your Expand programme with the Pace Company today!