Solutions and help for businesses, communities and organizations

At our Destination Business BootCamp, one of my favorite chapters to teach is how entrepreneurs and owners must attain a balance as the leader of the business to maximize the potential of their business.  Without a doubt, it’s the chapter where the owners in attendance do less talking and contributing than any point of the BootCamp, and I know why.  During this chapter, I hammer home the point that owners must quit operating as Mom and Pop business proprietors and instead, must start running their businesses like a CEO would run their company.

What that means for most owners is that they must start passing off some of the simple, day-to-day tasks that often dominate their working hours, so they can start thinking about more strategic and substantial ways to grow their company.

This chapter is especially sobering because I think we all see ourselves in the worst-practices examples in time management that I show.  You’ll notice that I say “we” because I can be as guilty anyone else in using my time unwisely.

One of the examples I reference during this chapter is the Steven Covey – Franklin Time Management system.  It’s a fantastic workshop that will help any time-scattered owner, and one immediately learns that there are only 4 types of activities that one engages in.  You are either being:

  • Reactive to outside stimulus and taking action when you must respond to an issue you didn’t create.
  • Proactive in handling your most important priorities of your company.
  • Adding and contributing value to your company by the nature of the tasks you choose to do, or
  • Contributing marginal value to your company by the tasks you do.

Then, I take examples of a typical business owner’s day to show one of each of these 4 activities.

When I come to the Reactive/Marginal-Value Tasks, the example I use is showing an owner who comes into his or her business, after it’s been snowing all night.  The sidewalks are covered with snow.  The owner grabs the shovel, heads outside, and starts clearing the snow off the sidewalk. Again, they are reacting to the snowfall on the sidewalk, so this is a Reactive task, but they, as the owner of the company, do the shoveling, rather than delegating this task to someone else.  This gives it Marginal value.  Marginal, reactive activities are the worst time wasters for business owners, and in this example, shoveling provides n value to the overall strengthening of their company.

Now, jump forward with me when I’m speaking on the phone to an owner who just attended the BootCamp.  She mentions that she found this time management exercise extremely beneficial and enlightening.  She starts recalling examples that I used during this chapter and mentions that this was a huge Eureka moment for her at the BootCamp.

“I’ve concluded,” she told me over the phone, “that being a CEO is hard.”

I agreed.  Thinking like a CEO is much harder than just engaging in every single task that pops up in one’s business, I told her.

She went on to say:

“It’s easier to be the shoveler.  I like shoveling.  I like doing something and seeing an immediate result, like the snow going away.  I like think-less jobs.  It’s hard to be the CEO of your company.  Being a CEO is NOT a think-less job.”

I like shoveling and doing think-less jobs!  No one had ever put it that way. But she was right.  Being a CEO is not easy.  It involves planning for the growth of your business.  This involves thinking and being creative, probably two of the most difficult aspects of running a business.  Being a CEO means you have to decide what must happen now, and what steps must happen next.  Strategic thinking about how you’re going to make your business a Destination is definitely an activity where thinking’s required.

But shoveling?  That’s relatively easy, isn’t it?  And when you are done, you can look at your completed work and say, “I did a fine job of shoveling.”  We all get an immediate reward as we check another item off our list.  No wonder so many of us engage in these reactive, marginal  value tasks.

So the next time you are sitting down, evaluating what needs to be accomplished in your day, think of this owner, who admits that she prefers shoveling to thinking about how to grow her business.  Are you the same way?  Are the tasks on your list tasks that you should be handling?  Or, are the tasks you’ve put on your list more of the “think-less” kind?

Focus on tasks that you absolutely MUST handle since no one else can!  Growing your business takes being a CEO, regardless of the size of your business.

Want to learn more about proactively becoming a Destination business.  Think about attending our next Destination BootCamp on March 15-17.  Click here to learn more.