5 Steps on How to Cut Distractions and Focus More on Achieving Your Business Goals
Raj Malik is CEO & Co-Founder of KikScore, an exciting startup that helps small online businesses use their own track record of reliability and trustworthiness to increase sales and close more leads. Raj is a contributor to his company’s blog at blog.kikscore.com, a past speaker at SXSW and is passionate about helping small business and entrepreneurs succeed.
As I talk to more and more entrepreneurs and startup founders, I hear one consistent operational challenge that these businesses face. The challenge actually is faced by companies big and small and is not unique to startups and entrepreneurs. It’s a very basic challenge and that is keeping your business, your team and the company’s strategy focused and away from unnecessary distractions. So often lack of focus turns into a major hurdle for businesses to successfully implement, execute and achieve their strategy and goals. The less focused you business is the harder it is to succeed.
Staying focused as a small business or startup is especially challenging when a business owner and team are so often pulled in so many directions simultaneously. We have all faced those days and weeks when you get to the office meaning to accomplish one set of objectives, but a customer calls and complains or a partner calls with a random joint marketing idea and your day and week quickly unravels as you shift to handle these new issues.
The near constant distractions of a business cause continual lurching from one task to another. There is a remedy for this continual lurching and it is laser focus on goals, activities and continually tracking activities and progress related to those goals. This 5 step plan will help you stay focused.
1. Set Clear Goals for Your Business and Circulate Them. As a team, a business owner must set clear near-term and long term goals. Near term can be 30-90 days. Long term is 1-3 years. Once the goals are set, make sure everyone is on the same page and accepts those goals. Then keep them in a place where the entire team can continually review and track them. This sets the benchmark for the company to help keep everyone on the same page as to what is important.
2. Indentify Key Tasks for Each Goal and Task Owners. Then jointly with your team create a list of the key tasks that flow up to the goals. One way to make sure the connection is there is actually tie each task to a goal and if the task cannot be tied to a goal, that task should probably be eliminated. Then give each task an owner so that team owner is responsible for the success or failure of that task. This helps keep the team focused on what is important and creates accountability. Here is a very good article on the key tasks and items that a startup should be focused on.
3. Identify Turbo Tasks That Help Achieve More. From the list of tasks, determine which activities get the business much closer to a goal at a faster rate. I call these Turbo Tasks because they can really turbocharge your business to achieve your company’s goals faster. So for example, lets say you have an approach that really helps you with customer acquisition and customer acquisition is a very important goal. So from all the various activities that help your business with customer acquisition this method stands out and so you should really identify this as a Turbo Task and focus your efforts using this method more so than your other tasks in this area.
4. Regularly Update Progress and Be Disciplined to Eliminate Distractions. As your business works through these turbo tasks and regular tasks, while also dealing with continual distractions that come up each day, it is critical that the team on a regular and periodic basis assess where the business is at in regards to the company’s goals. Measuring progress on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis is always a good practice. Here is a post that discusses key dates to do this analysis such as measuring progress around Memorial Day and then separately as well around Labor Day too so you can try to close each year strong. Also the team must keep each other honest to eliminate the distractions and enforce discipline when necessary to cut tasks that do not directly contribute to the company’s goals.
5. Team Accountability. There is probably no bigger item that will determine success than whether the business owner, the team as a whole and each team member demands accountability on executing on tasks and achieving established goals. Without team members acting as a check for themselves and other team members, a small business will again lose focus. Check out this excellent article by Martin Zwilling, 10 Techniques for Total Team Accountability.
In the end, one of the best ways to help ensure that team members are keeping each other focused is asking a simple question during internal team discussions for your business: Do you think that task you are working on today will get us closer to accomplishing your goals?