Hitting the six-figure mark is a goal for many small business owners.
But the path to this major milestone is a windy one. . .at least for most entrepreneurs.
No, I’m not saying you should take a shortcut.
You shouldn’t try to get to six figures overnight because you wouldn’t be able to sustain it.
What you need to do is create an infrastructure to support this kind of business—that’s the straightest, clearest path to your success.
Are You In The Artisan Phase?
You started your business to practice your craft and get generously paid for it.
The craftsman in you knows exactly what you need to create your product or deliver your service. And because you love what you do, and know how to do it, it’s only natural that you jump in and do it.
For example, if you are a web designer, you do the design work, advise your clients what tools to use for their site, and even install those tools for them. You also share your knowledge through social media, blog posts/vlogs, and e-programs.
These are the tasks of an artisan. You do them happily. You love sharing your gift with the world.
Do You Identify with the Business Mechanic Stage?
You spend a lot of your time engaged in support activities.
You’re answering never-ending emails, uploading your blog posts, recording and editing your videos, testing new tactics on how to market your services, launching your products, and growing your list.
These are the tasks of a business mechanic. You do them out of necessity. You know they need to happen. . . one way or another.
Are You Acting Like a Business Principal?
Do you find that you’re setting aside time to objectively evaluate the extent to which what you’re doing on a daily basis is bringing you closer to your goals? Are you assessing how quick and efficient you are? Are you analyzing what works and what doesn’t and readjusting your course of action?
These are the tasks of the business principal. You get their importance, but kick them to the curb when something “more urgent” comes up.
You probably find the first categories of tasks (Artisan and Business Mechanic) more urgent, because if they don’t happen, the consequences will be immediate and obvious.
A project not delivered on time means an unhappy client. Unanswered e-mail can cause you to lose opportunities.
And so you neglect the equally important tasks of the Business Principal.
Since your failure to attend to this third category doesn’t visibly hinder your business, these tasks stay on the back burner. They wait there. . . .and wait there.
The problem is, so do the six figures. They’re not materializing.
The Perils of Being Spread Too Thin
You spread yourself too thin because your ideas pull you in different directions.
You jump from one tactic to grow your business to another–never slowing down to see which ones work and how you can integrate them into your regular practices.
As your reputation grows, more people demand your time and want you to be a part of their projects. So, you rearrange your schedule to accommodate their requests.
All that makes the path to the six figures even more twisty and curvy.
The only way to get back on the straight path to your goals is to choose your business over everybody else’s.
No, don’t be an ***hole.
But respect your business as much as you respect the businesses of your clients and peers. Get to know yourself as the principal of your business—the person who keeps your business on track.
Experience the magic of blocking off time:
- Block time for your strategic work. Schedule weekly strategy meetings. The end of the week is great for them. It’s okay if it’s just you for now. Review what’s was accomplished last week, pat yourself on the back for your wins, forgive your mishaps, reset, and schedule the milestones for the next week.
If an interesting opportunity came your way during the week or if you had a brilliant idea, evaluate whether going in those directions will take you further away from your main goals. Better yet, leave them till your next strategy meeting and weight all the pros and cons then.
- Block time for different routines and stick to the allotted blocks. You will be surprised to find that giving yourself a timeline (and respecting it!) will push you to complete tasks much faster than it takes you when you leave them open-ended—“I’m done when I’m done.”
Block time for creating routines for activities that have positive effect on your business. Maybe you guest posted on a site that brought a wave of visitors back. Make sure to schedule another guest post with that site. Maybe one of your old posts keeps getting attention—write something on the same topic, but use different angle or do a webinar to go into more detail, etc.
- Block time to examine your routines and optimize them. Look at the steps you are taking to get something done. Is there a pattern? How could you explain the task to someone else (if only hypothetically for now!)?
Maybe you can record a short video or audio instructions, put together a short checklist, or take a bunch of posts-its and analyze the process once you’ve written out the steps on each individual post-it and arranged them on a flat surface or pinned them to a board… I’m warning you, you just might find it fun and enjoyable.
- Already have an assistant? Block time to make them an even greater help. Have them send you the list of tasks they are doing for you. If you’re happy with how those tasks are performed, have your assistant record those procedures for you. If something is not done the way you want it to be done, see if giving clearer instructions or providing examples of how something is supposed to be done will resolve the issue.
Ask your assistant what tasks they are doing gladly and where they are dragging their feet. Find out the reason—maybe they are lacking training and you have that online program in your library; or maybe it’s not their natural strength, so replacing that responsibility with one where they shine would be a better use of your money.
I know this sounds like a lot of work. And it is. But you don’t have to switch your attention from the tasks of artisan and mechanic completely. Set aside one hour a week to be a principal. It is not THAT much.
When you set aside time for the business principal activities and respect that obligation to yourself, you’ll notice your business transforming before your eyes.
You’ll be able to take on more work without adding to your workload. You, yourself, will become a different person by more confidently managing your own workload and the tasks that you give away to others.
Bit by bit, you’ll see the path to six figures getting straighter and straighter. And once you reach that milestone, it will feel like the most natural thing in the world.
Choose your business. It deserves it.
Back to You
What does “choosing your business” look like to you?