Starve your distractions, feed your focus

I was invited to present a workshop at a networking event of small business owners this week with their key challenges being ‘removing distractions, remaining focussed and on target and ‘customer retention’.

The two are intrinsically linked.

Statistically as a business owner, you are likely to be spending 60% of your week (three of five working days) on ‘stuff’ that comes with running a business – hiring, firing, bookkeeping, admin, networking, proposals – I can go on, and on.  It’s the stuff you don’t really think about or expect when you start up and it’s certainly not the stuff that puts fire in your belly, or gets you paid.

Add to this the constant distractions of smartphones bleeping every second with social media notifications, WhatsApp messages, email notifications et al.

And if you’re working from home, there’s the TV, the postman, the washing machine, the dog, cat, kids and a whole host of other domestic distractions.

Amongst those, you have to try and get some real work done and earn some money.

During the session I covered off a number of key areas that I recommended be adopted in order to get and remain focus and start to get better results:

Have a plan: less than 25% of small business owners have a written down and shared plan.  Having a plan should tell you what needs doing, when it should be done by, why you are doing it and how you will measure success. No plan means you have little focus and you will drift from one fire fighting task to another and allow yourself to become distracted by whatever takes your fancy.

Are you busy or are you productive.  They are two different things.  “I have printed your plan off and the template is sat on my desk” is not going to get you results.

Set clear goals: these can be both financial business goals and personal goals.  Financial business goals (Business Growth Indicators in our world) are the ones that you can use to track the success of your strategies.  These are unique to you and your business and include anything from revenue, conversion ratio, retention rate, client satisfaction, average spend per client, profit and cash.  Once you set them, have goals against each that can be reviewed daily, weekly, monthly as needed.

The biggest excuses that I heard in the room of attendees, were that they were “frightened of what the numbers would say” and “don’t have time”.  If you are frightened of the numbers, you are on a slippery slope, so consider an accountability partner to help you with the process.  You have to know your numbers.

Sales strategy: many small business owners go off chasing new clients before the existing ones are bedded in and secure.  As a result, they get a higher than ideal turnover of clients and are always in marketing and business development mode.  The three sales strategies you should adopt are, in this order:

  1. Retain your existing clients
  2. Maximise the spend from your existing clients
  3. Secure new clients

We all get asked if we want a bar of chocolate for £1 in the fuel station, asked if we want fries at the drive through (so I’ve heard) and pastries at the coffee shop.  Are you doing the same in your business?

Profit Growth Formula: strongly linked to setting clear goals, this formula allows you to understand your conversion ratio from leads to clients, to revenue to profit. Understanding your actual rather then guesstimated conversion ratios tells you whether you need to focus your efforts on marketing strategy or sales strategy or both.

If you don’t know your conversion ratio, or retention ration, how do you know how many leads you need in your pipeline to hit your client targets?  If you don’t know your average spend per client, how do you know how many clients you need to hit your revenue targets?

Client retention: it costs eight times more to win a new client than retain an existing one and of course, a retained client is an advocate and referral source.  The single best marketing strategy for most businesses… Drum roll (hides behind the sofa from the expected marketing guru backlash)… Do a great job and exceed the expectations of your client.  Read that again.

If you map out your current client touchpoints and then review further ones that are needed or where they are not being consistently delivered, you will be able to plug the gaps and maximise retention.  A retained client keeps spending, buys more from you and tells their audience how great you are.

You can have the best strategies in the world, but as Joel A Barker said, ‘A vision without action, is merely a dream.’  You have to starve your distractions and feed your focus.  Focus on these five strategies and take action and you will see the results within days.

How do I know?  Because these are the tried and tested tools I have used for years to help my clients get the professional and personal results they desire.

As I have mentioned above, if you are struggling with focus or taking action, having an accountability partner is key.  Somebody who you can share your goals with and who will hold your feet to the flames to help you take action and get results.

You only have a set number of hours in the day/ week and time is the most valuable commodity you will not get back.  It is easy to get distracted and then blame the external environment for lack of results.

The business owners who get results don’t waste the time they have available to them – they have super focus. They are doing more of the work that puts fire in their belly, and less of the distractions that don’t.

Good luck implementing those above that will get you the focus you need.

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Distractions Gary King Business Mentor Tendo Leeds