Making decisions about how to grow your company is difficult. It can feel as though you are being asked all the questions at once, especially once vendors begin to call or drop by because you have made it onto their radar. Unfortunately the arrival of these solicitors does not often coincide with the growth of your business and indeed can increase the tension you already feel about what to do next. I have a couple of ground rules I try to live by and which I offer as advice to my clients. They may seem obvious at first, but really using them and living by them is much harder than just understanding what the rule means.
One thing at a time.
Your attention is valuable. Everything you do requires some of it, and there will always be interruptions. So do not begin a second short-term project when you still have the ability to continue one you have already started. If the phone rings or someone stops by, do what you need to for them, then get back to this short-term project and finish it. By opening up new projects and adding to the list of items on your immediate to-do list, you are diminishing your attention. Once that attention dwindles below 50%, you will start to feel overwhelmed. This is normal, but just like keeping a sailboat upright, you must pay attention to how far over the mast is leaning so you do not lose your ability to maintain course or end up capsized. Why is this difficult? Because some people have bought into the strategy that they need to drop everything every time an opportunity to make money comes up. This is a recipe for losing your mind slowly. You might be able to keep up this strategy for a matter of weeks or months, but it will eventually drain you entirely of your forward momentum as more and more basic responsibilities slip by and create longer term problems that snowball. Just take one thing at a time to the extent possible.
First things first.
The title of this post, this is about priorities, but more than that about keeping your mind clear enough to handle the rest of your life. Read this next part carefully, because it is key to keeping your business flowing in the right direction: you may not already know what the next most important priority is. Your experience is limited to the subject matter you specialize in. To think that because you are good at building houses also makes you a computer genius is absurd. The reverse is also true, as I can attest. If I need help with anything outside of my specialty I make sure to ask questions. Many questions are quickly answered now in Google and other search engine results, but to get broader advice, tailored to your current situation, you may need to engage an expert if you are not lucky enough to have a friend in that field. Once you know the right direction, go back to rule one and handle it one thing at a time.
Asking for advice is the first stop on the road to something greater than yourself.
What better way to better yourself than adding to your own knowledge base? Making mistakes is all part of life, but avoiding mistakes is far preferable. Furthermore, asking someone for their opinion is usually a compliment and a way to show respect. Instead of trying to outwit people who are selling you something, find out what they might have to bring you in the way of knowledge, new technology, advice, or even a good deal. This blog post has no shortage of aphorisms, but I will add one more: everything happens for a reason. While this is a matter of personal belief, I think that it is also good solid philosophy to improve one’s quality of life. Take advantage of the people and the ideas that come to you.
If you ever need someone to ask questions about small business, websites, hosting, or anything related to computing, please feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail.
Henry Lyons is the owner of Finestkind Web Design in Dresden, Maine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through his website www.fineskindwebdesign.com.