Because of the number of hats an entrepreneur wears on any given day, you're in the unique position of having an exceptional number of categories of Stuff to Do/Manage/Learn/Figure Out/Outsource/Try Not To Forget.
And as you juggle those categories and their ever increasing lists, eventually you'll end up asking,
“How do I know what to focus on?”
One answer is, “It depends.” I couldn't give anyone a detailed action plan without getting some details from them first.
Fortunately, there is one infallible answer I can give you right here and now that works every time, no matter who you are, no matter what business you're in, and no matter how much or how little business experience you've got.
That answer is:
Focus on the Two Key Elements of your business:
1. What serves your customers, &
2. What brings in money for your business
In a profitable, sustainable, healthy and ethical business, there will be a lot of overlap between these two. Most of your core activities will both serve your clients and bring in money.
When the Two Key Elements of your business are well tended to, anything else going on in your business is totally fixable, manageable, and course-correctable.
But if your Two Key Elements are neglected, nothing else matters.
It does not matter how well you're managing or outsourcing or figuring out all of the other stuff if your Key Elements are broken.
How To Use The Key Elements As Your Golden Compass
Think of the Key Elements as your “golden compass.”
Every so often, evaluate what you're doing against The Key Elements. Make sure that what you're spending your time, attention and resources on is actually serving your customers and helping to bring money into your business.
If it is, then you're on the right track, and any errors you might be making beyond that are going to be fixable.
But if you check what you're doing against your Key Elements “compass” and realize that what you're focusing on isn't serving your customers and bringing money into the business, it's time to course correct.
Because remember: if you repeatedly neglect serving your customers and keeping money coming in, then all the other stuff you've been doing — no matter how beautifully you've been doing it — won't matter.
The Key Elements “What Do I Focus On?!” Two-Minute Quick Tip
If you're having one of those days — or weeks — when you're really feeling lost in a sea of to-dos that are all screaming for your attention, that are all of relatively equal importance, and where none of them are particularly more urgent than the others, here's a quick way to get out of the stuck and back into action.
Set a timer for two minutes(ish).
In that two minutes, look through your list (or just brainstorm if the list is in your head) for the items that most directly relate to the Key Elements of your business.
Identify the to-dos that (as directly as possible) serve your customers or get money through your door.
If you have to stop and think of a way an item relates to either of those elements, cross it off and go to the next one. The to-dos that have close links to your Key Elements will start to be clearer and clearer — especially the more often you do this.
You can't go wrong handling the stuff that most directly relates to what serves your customers and brings money in the door.
The items that didn't make the cut the first time through might make the cut the second time through, or the third time through.
And if they still haven't made the cut by the fifth or sixth time through, you might start re-evaluating just how truly essential they are.
This can be a great way to weed out tasks that seemed really important but, in fact, weren't.
Knowing these Key Elements prevents you from being ‘lost' ever again.
No matter what changes in your business, those Key Elements are going to stick around.
No matter what changes in marketing tactics, those Key Elements are still going be the Key Elements.
No matter what nifty new social media software shows up next month, your Key Elements are still going to be your business's lifeblood.
As an entrepreneur, you'll always have a lot to juggle, to manage, to learn, to figure out…
But now that you've got your Key Elements, you'll always have your compass to ensure you stay on the right track, focused on the right things, and on your way to a sustainably successful business.
To your success,