There is no linear path to true success. Everyone who has ever managed to grow has been on a journey that feels more like a roller coaster or a game of snakes and ladders.
Doing the same things every day for years probably won’t take your business to new heights. But what will it be? Find the ladders. Avoid snakes. Evaluate your actions to eliminate what is holding you back and do more of what will propel you forward.
There are five daily actions that most of us do because we think they are productive. But they are not. Here’s why they’re keeping your small business and here’s what to do instead.
1. Tasks, errands and administration
Doing things well below our potential keeps us performing well below our potential. If you see a job posting for a taxi driver, cleaner, or administrative assistant, but aspire to be a multi-millionaire, you won’t apply for the job. Yet you actually do it when you run errands, tidy up, do your laundry, and go through your tax return. As soon as you make more than $20 an hour, it makes no sense to do things that you could outsource for less than $15 an hour.
If someone else can do it, don’t. Instead, spend time resting and rejuvenating or simply taking on more clients or doing things that will grow your business. There’s no price for the cleanest house, someone else could do your laundry as well as you, and your insistence on doing the little things gets in the way of you tackling the big ones. Outsourcing is the solution.
2. Work all the time
Working nonstop between waking up and being too tired to move can hurt your business success. Without rest, you are never fully recharged to do your job. Without shutting down throughout the day, even if it’s only for a few hours, your default mode network can’t kick in to sort out the challenges for you.
Your mind needs rest and distraction for revelations and breakthroughs. Without intentionally shutting down throughout the day, you’re still in beta brainwaves, sorting through tasks without seeing the big picture. You plow all day with your head down and so in the trees you can’t see the wood. You will miss the opportunities that could help you take the leap because there just isn’t the space.
Multitasking means trying to get the best of both worlds but ending up with the worst. Relaxing while checking email, thinking about tonight’s race at a meeting that matters, or scrolling through Instagram at the gym are all time wasters. Multitasking is less of a productivity hack and more of a quality zap. The cost of task switching is hours over a day, so starting something and sticking with it is the only way to go.
Instead of jumping from task to task or working all the time, cut out chunks of your schedule where you work hard on one thing. Then rest, or change, or reflect. Create your perfect repeatable day and plan your productivity cadence. There will be a perfect sprint duration that works for you, so experiment until you find it. Meanwhile, turn off everything else and don’t be tempted to check. Sit with discomfort until your attention span lengthens and you reach that place of flow.
4. Launch side projects
If you’re not too concerned with your main business, you should start side projects. If your business matters to you, side projects will cost its potential. Buying that domain name and registering that new business without recognizing that your energy is now divided is a kind of ignorance that does not lead to happiness.
One big business or lots of small ones. You decide. If you suffer from FOMO and love having your fingers in every pie, keep going. But if you have bigger plans than that, close other avenues and do it all. Keep a list of businesses you’d like to start, but don’t start them. Take the time and effort you’ve saved and do more with your core business. Your future self will thank you.
5. Being too available
Being overly available is keeping your business small, because it means your team members aren’t growing on their own. Rather than becoming resourceful, independent and helpful people, they are in your shadow and cannot move without your consent. If you don’t trust your people, get rid of them. If you trust them, let them. Hanging around in the middle confused about being there for every request and assessing their every move stifles their motivation to take ownership of their role and see what they can do.
If your ego can’t stand someone else answering questions and solving your business problems, it’s up to you. There are very few emergencies and you don’t have to be there all the time. Change some of your office hours for time doing in-depth work. Swap a few status meetings to meditate on your company’s vision. Create leaders, not dependencies. You are a CEO, not a babysitter.
Avoid chores, shopping and administration. Work in intense batches, not continuously. Avoid multitasking and say no to side projects in favor of all energy in one direction at all times. Be less available for your team members to become partners rather than employees. These daily actions are easy to do and hard to stop, but it will remove the ceiling that you may not have realized was there.