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The Only Path to Sustainable Growth

This post is one in a series of tips for making your small business run better and is sponsored by UPS. UPS is all about logistics — the logistics that makes your business run better and faster

Sustainable growth comes from doing more of what really creates growth and less of what you get pulled into in the name of growth.

photo credit: swisscan via photopin cc

Your business doesn’t care how you spend your day – only you can determine the most profitable use of the only unrenewable resource available – your time.

But the incredibly tricky part is determining what should and what should not get your attention. There are many things that seem important, feel important, and look important that simply shield you from what is important.

If you are ever going to grow your business beyond what you can contain in the grasp of your outstretched arms, you’ll have to let go of a great deal of what you do to fill each day.

Take a mental trip back over the last few days at your business. Or better yet, create an hour-by-hour time sheet and recount the activities that consumed your day. If you can’t remember what you did, other than the fact that you were busy, start today and jot down notes about the activities you engage in over the span of the next few days.

Now for the fun part. Try to assign a dollar value to the work you did. In other words, what would it cost if you had to pay someone else to do the work. Experience suggests that your list contains plenty of $10, $20 and $30 an hour work.

The problem with this reality is that to make a decent living you need to earn about $125 an hour for every hour you put in.

So, if you are making a decent living from your business then what’s really going on is you are doing a bunch of $10/hr work mixed in with the occasional $500/hr payoff.

I know this is pretty simple math and I also know that all this stuff you’re doing needs to get done. But, it also robs you from doing more of the highest payoff work.

The equation for true growth is pretty darn simple. Do more high payoff work and less low payoff work.

The path to adopting a high payoff mindset is understanding and creating the priorities for your work, defining the highest payoff activities and then letting go and allowing yourself to focus on them.

Define your activities

Sit for a while and sift through everything you do in your business and see if you can highlight the three of four highest payoff activities that you do. You know, the place where make your money. Think about what it would mean to your business if you focused on little else in your business but those activities. It doesn’t mean you know right now how you could free up the time to them, but acknowledging them is the first step.

Every business is different, but generally the highest payoff activities are things that fall into the strategic work in categories such as selling, creating new products and services, and marketing.

Note the word strategic above – mining LinkedIn for leads, proofreading copy for the new service agreement and designing ads all fit into the categories above, but as tasks better handled as low payoff work.

Create your list of three of four activities and lock down your commitment to find a way to focus more time on those activities while delegating or outsourcing everything that frees you to do this.

Get serious about getting free

As you make your to do list today mentally make note of this question and pose it each and everyday. Could I get someone else to do this task?

Once you get serious about this mindset you’ll start seeking ways to get it done. There so many ways to get tasks accomplished by people more proficient and less costly than you that it’s almost a crime not to do it.

Find virtual assistants experienced in proofreading, bookkeeping, social media management, blogging and research and get these things off your plate. Explore project based services like Fiverr and Fancy Hands to do those things you’ve been meaning to get around to.

Create and protect space

The final step in your high payoff transition is to take your priority list and, well, make it a priority. The best way to do this is carve out a day or two each week and make those your “high payoff activity only” days.

That means during those days you map out a plan to work on the highest payoff work and leave the rest alone. No email, no tweaking your website, no meetings – unless these are truly high payoff.

For some, two entire days for this might seem like more than they can afford, so start with two afternoons. The point is if you don’t create a protect time for this, it won’t happen.

What you work on during your high payoff days will change based on what’s going on, but when you identify the priorities you can plan each week with these days and priorities in mind and know that you are growing your highest payoff work space and ultimately growing your business with a high payoff mindset.

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