Just 10-12 minutes of planning every day can cut 2 hours of wasted time and effort, according to Brian Tracy.
Well, I’ve never been much of a planner. Gasp.
I’ve had my to-do list, my calendar, and my business plan…in my head. As you might imagine, this has caused some problems.
I’ve missed important appointments. I’ve missed crucial deadlines. I’ve forgotten about key initiatives. But most importantly: this attitude limited my ability to actually make my vision reality.
And here’s the thing…
It really is all an attitude.
My reluctance to use a planner, document systems, or keep an eye on my calendar isn’t a hard-wired personality trait. It’s an attitude that I had chosen to take.
In January, I finally recognized this and decided to make some big changes…and I’ve had an absolutely incredible year.
I do spend 10-12 minutes planning out my day, reviewing our progress toward our goals, and checking in on where others are at.
I’m better organized personally, my team is more independent, my company is growing faster than ever, we’re accomplishing more together, and our customers are happier.
I don’t get it right all the time but I’m training myself to become a better manager of my world.
Now, I know my situation is not unique.
The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician
Most small business owners in the New Economy are a combination of, as Michael Gerber describes it in The E-Myth, The Technician–the “do the work” person–and The Entrepreneur–the visionary.
What most lack is the skillset and identity as The Manager–the person who ensures ideas get turned into a plans or systems and that those plans or systems actually get implemented.
The fact of the matter is that we all have an Entrepreneur, Manager, and Technician inside us. And if they were equally balanced, we’d be describing an incredibly competent individual. The Entrepreneur would be free to forge ahead into new areas of interest; The Manager would be solidifying the base of operations; and The Technician would be doing the technical work.
Small businesses get started primarily because people who lean towards The Technician side sense they could get a better deal working for themselves. Some have taken a skill they learned in the corporate world or by formal education and translated into self-employment.
Others have gone off to learn a new skill they’re passionate about and recognize the opportunity contained in independent work over traditional employment.
Some small businesses do get started because of the singular vision and focus of The Entrepreneur at its helm… but, in watching the trajectory of hundreds of small businesses over the last 9 years, I think these businesses are the minority. Most often, once The Technician gets bit by the entrepreneurial bug, vision is unlocked and amplified–not the other way around.
The Management Gap
This leaves a gap–and a severe imbalance–between the desire to “do the work” and the vision to create something bigger and more impactful.
There is a constant, often overwhelming, push-pull between delivering your work (performing your service, making your product, supporting customers) and working on the business.
From both my personal experience and talking to so many business owners over the years, the reluctance to close the gap, create plans, and develop systems is often perceived as a personal failing and a product of their natural-born personality.
“I’m just not a manager.”
“I’m a creative, I like to go with the flow. I’m not the kind of person who plans.”
“I’m more of a doer than a planner.”
“I’m an INTP.” (Oh wait, maybe that’s just me…)
If you’ve attempted some of the managerial tasks, like creating standard operating procedures, using project management software, or hiring people, it was likely reluctantly or even begrudgingly. Maybe you quit shortly after you started, maybe you half-heartedly continue to keep up with it.
You likely give yourself an excuse by employing one of the lines above instead of truly examining the kind of real changes you could make in how you approach the operations of your business and the organization of your life.
In other words, you’re a reluctant manager.
You’re not alone.
A reluctance to manage–yourself, your business, or (eventually) your team–is often the biggest objection people give me to thinking bigger about their businesses. We associate management with rules, restrictions, unnecessary meetings, and, often, bad bosses. We worry that we’ll get sucked into doing a job we hate because our business gets too big or too successful.
Luckily, learning to become a manager doesn’t mean forgetting what’s great about running your business. But you do need to have a plan.
You need to know how you will approach things like meeting deadlines, checking tasks off of a project, building relationships with the people who help make your business work, tracking your revenue and expenses, or planning for growth. You don’t need to do it a certain way, you just need to devise the way that works for you.
Once you do, you’ll realize you can think bigger about your business, plan further ahead, and get more creative about how you approach challenges.
Management is the key to a whole new way to think about your business and that fresh mindset can pay huge dividends–even if you’re reluctant at first.