How to Be Effective Without Being Busy

How to Be Effective Without Being Busy

I was talking with a friend of mine, recently, to decide the best course of action for his business. He has a small company providing web design services and only recently has started working on his own!

One of the biggest problems you are facing when you start a new business in the area of the new digital economy is how to define your business with clarity.

Most solopreneurs, freelancers, and entrepreneurs I know keep nagging about how much hours they spend on their business without having the results they want!

And the problem is a structural one.

If you don’t have any clear goal, you keep on doing things does not pay off, therefore you put some more work to compensate the loss and all of the sudden you realize that you have caught up in the middle of a vicious circle.

The “Busyness” Problem

“Busyness” is the entrepreneur’s’ collective excuse of not doing what it needs to been done. It is the tendency of  “looking” busy when, actually, you don’t move closer to your goals.

Because the absence of goals or a clear direction in your business cannot be compensated by a huge amount of meaningless activity.

At the end of the day, doing a lot of things is not the same as doing the “right” things.

You might have spent 10 hours trying to figure out what people buy from your firm or when analysing large amounts of data instead of thinking about what you offered them and how.

The one thing is pure “busyness” because even if this analysis provided some results they would be incomprehensible in the absence of a general strategy. The other is a step closer to define your real business.

The problem is not your “busyness” and how much work you have put in a project. Business is all about effectiveness and leadership.

Especially so, when you are an entrepreneur trying to makes ends meet.

Define Your Business

The major problem most online business face today is the detachment from their client base.

Today’s business is radically different from making business in the previous year and that for one, single and encompassing reason: the structure of our economy has changed to a different operation paradigm.

We used to have a large corporation and global operation while today the trends favor small operations locally and strategically situated.

We used to have expensive equipment, large financial barriers to “big business”, enlarged teams to cope with the business objectives at hand.

Today you can do business with a laptop, find resources and money from various sources (crowdfunding, sponsors, advertisers, etc.) and cooperate with (or even participate to) a remote/nomad teams everywhere in the world (as long as meet your standards and prices).

The same fabric of work has changed and shifted to encompass your individual preferences and lifestyle.

In every role (either as consumer, user, producer, promoter, sponsor, facilitator, thought leader, etc.) YOU are in the center of economy, today!

The New Business Environment

The shift from a mass economy to personal or private economy triggers a lot of changes in business operations.

Now, many “companies” operate on the base of small collaborative groups or even due to the efforts of just one person.

This resulted in a complete difference business approach from the ones you were used to using for your business.

You cannot “teach an old dog new tricks” as people say, but, today is vital for you as a business person to realize where you are operating in and whom do you serve.

Most than other times, today is imperative to realize what your business is.

I know a lot of freelancers, who if you take the trouble to question what they do for a living, they usually would respond:

  • I build WordPress sites
  • I do graphics design
  • I develop products
  • I teach online courses
  • … (etc.)

If you continue, though, to query them on what their business is, they continue to answer you the same thing.

You see, most of the people cannot discern the difference of a job from the business.

The job is what you do to make some money for taking care the requirements of your life.

Business is what you do to provide value to yourself by providing value to other people (not all people of course. Actually, to provide value to the people YOU have to choose to serve).

In modern business, though, it is essential for you to know the difference. Because if you don’t you would have many problems to define YOUR business in any way that would help you to succeed in the future.

You need to define your business and your audience (your clients) in a way that would promote your business objectives and does not render you incapable for creative business activities.

And that, generally, means to define

  • Your business (what you do, how, whom do you serve, in what way provide something extra, how do you differ to competition, what’s your pricing policy, how you measure the quality of your services/products, etc.)
  • what your business model is (you use direct sales, subscription model, digital sales, affiliate marketing, community, utility, etc.)
  • Your niche market (where are you operate in, what’s the profitable niche you can offer your services with success, how to do this, how to gain sustainability, growth, how to develop and scale your online business, etc.)
  • your audience (who are the people you serve, what’s their needs, problems, pains, requirements, how you help them with your products/services, etc. )
  • Your products/services (what you offer to remedy the “pains” of your audience, how, in what price, …)

A Simple Recipe For Business Success

As you can see there are many factors interplay to provide a successful result for your business. But this is not too random.

To succeed in business, as in life, you need to do your homework and design the “reality” you want to bring about.

To do that you need to have some goals in your mind and a strategy to help you keep on tracks.

There are many approaches, can help you do this, but my experience as a consultant, says that some approaches are better than others.

In any case, though, in any situation, you need to develop a strategy which will promote your business goals and objectives.

To do that, you need:

  1. To define your “next state of being”. Who you want to be, how, what you are prepared to invest, … i.e. to define your vision for your life and business in clear and comprehensible terms.
  2. Define your internal operational principles. This includes a reflection on who you are and what you want to achieve in life and business. Is not a mere “academic” activity but a real “hardcore” business operation aiming at filtering out the “noise”, and providing clear directions for your future. Here you should consider the most intimate elements of yourself as your mindset and your skills are, your values, your life principles, your habits, your preferences, dislikes, to-dos, not-to-dos, etc. The result of this procedure should be a set of General Operating Principles to help you move without doubt towards your goals.
  3. Define yours why. You why is what would provide the motivation and the incentive of what you are going to do in the long run. You why is also the main factor would leverage your skills & resources towards your favorable end, provide strength and impact to your message, and equip you with grit to endure in the face of adversities may arise during your course of action.
  4. To set clear and measurable goals. It would be far easier to examine carefully your vision and extract all the actionable goals would help it to be implemented. Your goals should be SMART enough, and flexible enough in order to help you promote your objectives.
  5. Decide on the Strategies and the activities you are going to use. In order to achieve your goals, you should decide on the how you are going to achieve them. You need to decide on the best strategies can guarantee you your personal & business success. You may want to use the strategies you are going to select as broad categories or groups of activities you need to implement in order to materialize your objectives. You strategies & the activities you use not only should include what you should do in order to bring closer your goals but what you shouldn’t do based on how you want to succeed.
  6. Work each day on the objective you have set. Ideally, since you have set up all previous operation, and install the relevant habits which will carry your daily action closer to the goals you have set, you need to focus on doing what important to you and to your objectives. You need to declutter your life of all things does not longer support your goals and focus on the things have meaning for you, your family, your life and your business. Sometimes this stage is  rather difficult because prescribes habits changes and personal operational modes alteration but is important to establish your vision on daily base (via new habits, through the new awareness of your limitation and strengths, via your newfound acknowledgment of your client’s requirements, etc.)
  7. Review, amend if necessary and measure the results.  This is a recipe and as each recipe is far from perfect. Every person in online business should take a look at him/herself and design the workflow which is appropriate to him/her. In any case, though, at the end of certain “operation circles” you should reserve time for review of your “recipes” and of their results in your life and business and if necessary to modify them according to the changing business environment and the problems you had to face in the previous phase.

Business success is a relative “quality and quantity” and specific to each one of us. The how, the why and the where each of us is going to implement it is exactly what makes “good businesses”.

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Takis Athanassiou

Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! He frequent writes at his personal blog and at Leadership Initiative @Businnes! You can add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.