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If you’re juggling too many projects and always seem to have too many tasks piling up on to-do lists, now is a good time to reassess your overall strategy. I say this because as we’ve entered the second month of the new year, people are experiencing a lot of stress out there. More so than in recent memory.
Last year, I spoke a lot about the changing economies and the changes that were happening within many marketplaces (including my own).
I took a good six months to review what I was doing and how I was doing it. I analyzed and considered everything from the drop-off in social media (participation and time spent on various platforms) to the markets that are saturated with similar products and services.
To say the time was well-spent would be an understatement. My entire strategy gradually shifted. I say gradually because no matter how experienced you are, change always involves a certain amount of hesitancy. You find yourself double-checking things and not taking anything for granted.
It’s like diffusing a bomb in some cases. You think two or three times before cutting the green wire.
Long story short, I refocused, rebranded (ever so slightly), and started to do things differently. In this article, I’d like to ask you some of the questions I posed to myself during this time of change and transition.
Who Is Your Real Market This Year?
If you’re ready to make a change, it all starts with the foundation. Your foundation. Everything that lasts is built upon a strong foundation. You can waste a lot of time focusing on the wrong crowd or the wrong kind of buyers. You find yourself creating content, writing articles, recording videos, and the response is minimal at best.
Yes, I believe it takes persistence to succeed at anything. But, it also requires a certain amount of wisdom to recognize that you’re focusing on the wrong market. You may be spending too much time with people who have no intention of spending money with you.
That’s fine, as long as you can see it for what it is.
Many of my closest friends have never bought a product or service from me. They’re not clients. They’re friends. I guess if I needed money, they’d lend or give me some, but that’s not the point.
The point is – you need to spend your “business time” among those who really, really need what you have. That’s the kind of market that can transform your business within a matter of months.
There’s Only One YOU. What Does That Mean?
At the heart of everything remains one immutable fact – there’s only one you. I don’t care if you outsource everything you do, you still have to manage the outsourcers and the projects. If you have someone to do that part, you’re probably reading this just to kill some time.
For everyone else – you can’t neglect your business for long without suffering the consequences. Without you, the parts stop moving for the most part.
You’re basically in charge of everything. An entire day can go up in smoke like a droplet of water on a hot frying pan surface if you’re distracted. The same thing can happen even if you’re not distracted. All it takes is for an unforeseen problem to pop up and the next thing you know, it’s nighttime. Again.
So, let’s call it like we’re seeing it. You’re trying to do too much. And everything, not just some things, is suffering in some way, shape or form because of it.
Seriously, it’s time for a change of strategy. With the time your investing – just thinking about business, you should have a doctorate in business studies by now.
I’m kidding… sort of.
The Less Moving Parts Approach Is Now a Necessity
If I were a doctor, I’d probably tell you, something has got to go. I’m a consultant, so I’ll basically tell you the same thing. You only have so much mental bandwidth to do everything you’re looking to do. Plus, there’s family and whatever other commitments you need to take care of.
Even if you had to do all of the things so many of the experts are saying you have to do – you can’t. There just around enough hours in a day. Not even in the “perfect day,” and there’s not exactly a lot of those.
I used to tell myself, “Next week will be different.”
It wasn’t. Okay, it was different for an hour or two.
If you’re a one or two-person business, you need a business model and strategy that’s designed for one or two people. You need a business model that’s focused on a very limited number of profitable objectives. The emphasis here is on profitable objectives.
You can’t mimic a big company approach and expect to get a similar result. You have to use wisdom and learn to use what you have without going into debt.
Another Look at the Statistics
According to all the statistics I’ve examined over the last decade, one out of seven projects will do really well. One out of seven will succeed. I’m not one to let my life be led by statistics, but I’ve learned enough from trial and error to not ignore them completely, either.
Everything requires some focus and effort, too. There’s no getting around it. That said, there’s an increasing number of studies that show it’s getting harder for people to do the deeper, focused, consistent work that’s required to master a skill.
As a result, we have a lot of “hack work” occurring. Let’s face the facts; with a limited amount of time, it’s impossible to apply a deep, focused, work effort to more than one thing at a time. None of this, however, is bad news. It’s simply a reality check. Reality is a good thing.
If I believe I’m making progress when I’m actually spinning my wheels, I want to know about it. I’ve done stupid things before. I’ve refused to admit something was failing or that its time had passed. I survived. Life went on. Most importantly, I learned from it.
I learned to stop taking each little setback as though it were an epic fail. Even in the failures, some good things happened. Some of the things DID work. I learned what to avoid or what to do better the next time or on the next project.
Waiting for a Breakout or Breakthrough?
In the past, I juggled multiple projects and divided my focus on a regular basis. To me, everything was important. Everything was too valuable to be ignored. I guess that’s fine if you’re working in the kitchen. You can learn how to cook several things at the same time. If you do it right, everything arrives at the table at the same time.
In business, you can start three different projects at the same time and you never really know for sure what’s going to happen until it happens. Everyone thinks their ideas are good or at the very least, decent. In the early days, I experimented with selling three different services and growing a client base around those services – at the same time. How did that work out? Not very good.
Whenever I “decided” to go all in, I’d get distracted by something else. I’d invest some time in the “latest idea” and before I knew it, I was launching 3 to 4 new projects – one after another. Deep down on the inside, I was hoping one of them would break out and become “the one.”
Building something is one thing. That’s the exciting part. Selling it is another. Sales and marketing require five-times the effort that the building part does. Truth be told, I wasn’t willing to give the effort. Instead, I tested all the shortcuts I could find. Anything to avoid the drudgery I associated with sales and marketing.
Do You Need a Better Strategy?
Maybe you’re managing multiple projects as I did? Hoping one of them will suddenly take off? You may have very well taken the longest, hardest road of all. It doesn’t seem that way at the time, but the clues are all there. Your focus is split. Every project brings with it a fresh infusion of hope. But… your bottom line isn’t really budging. Winter becomes spring, spring becomes summer… but the bottom line is barely moving. In some cases, you find yourself going backward – making less than you were before.
That’s the sign. The road’s out ahead. It’s time to rethink your current path.
I know people who’ve been on this kind of journey for many years. It’s sad but true. Why not choose one thing and put everything you have behind it and give yourself the best chance possible? Because focusing isn’t easy. It requires discipline and discipline doesn’t feel good you’re finally rewarded for it at a future point in time.
What do you need? You need a single focus and a doable strategy behind your single focus. And… you need some discipline.
What’s Really Sidetracking You?
So, this brings up the question, what’s really sidetracking you? It can be a little bit different for everyone. Maybe you’ve had a few bad experiences, or you’ve worked with some clients who were a poor fit for you?
It’s tempting to write-off an entire industry when some of your early experiences in it are bad ones. I had a similar experience. It made me feel like an utter failure at the time. I was just out of college, too.
Mentally, I had the strength and fortitude of a porcelain vase.
When the business world knocked me to the canvas in one of my first “fights,” I basically sat there thinking, “I knew this was going to happen!”
People talk about mindset and things like that. It all sounds good on paper. The problem is, when life hits you with a real setback, that’s not the time to start second-guessing everything. If you’re double-minded about your course of action, it won’t take much adversity to get you to fold.
Some of you won’t quite outwardly because you have bills and a family. But deep down on the inside, it’s like all the “fight” goes out of you. You’re going through the motions. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been there.
Overcome “Squirrely Thinking”
I also struggle with what some people call “squirrely thinking.” Do you know what that means? You’re driving down the road and a squirrel starts to cross the road. Then, it stops and changes directions. Then it stops and changes directions again. It can’t make up its mind whether to cross to the road or go back to the side it started from. Meanwhile, here comes your car.
I guess the squirrel is overthinking it? Maybe it thinks you’re suddenly going to swerve to the right? Maybe to the left? The problem is, all this thinking is happening in the middle of the road with oncoming traffic.
Is the same thing happening in your business? You’re in the middle of oncoming bills. You’re not sure what to do. You’re not sure what to focus on. Everything seems doable until you’re actually in the thick of it. Then nothing looks good. All this thinking leads to inaction, wasted time, and sleepless nights. Perhaps the only consolation is, the road happens to be filled with “squirrels.” You’re not the only one. That’s a relief, but only for so long.
It’s Your Call
Is it time to shift strategies in your own business? I guess that’s the million-dollar question? I don’t think you need an expert to tell you what’s working and what isn’t in your own business. You’re experiencing it firsthand for yourself.
Changing direction requires some thought and some commitment. First, it might be worth your time to write down all the things that distract you along. Identify your fears or worries. Try and distance yourself from the problems for a minute and ask yourself, if someone else came to you with the same problems and challenges, what advice would you give them?
If you’re caught in a place of indecision, it can be tempting to do nothing and see if things will somehow work themselves out. I used to practice that kind of approach.
However, I learned if you stay in that place long enough and things don’t work out, you will have lost all that valuable time that could have been spent building something better.
Some of the better decisions I’ve made certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. There were times when I couldn’t plan more than a few days into the future at a time. I literally found myself taking one day at a time. That’s tough when you think you can comfortably see five or so years into the future and it’s all smooth sailing from that vantage point.
It’s all in the head. Whether you feel secure or insecure, it’s mostly in your own mind, isn’t it? You don’t know what you don’t know.
What I do know for certain is that I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to move forward. The passive, let’s see what comes approach, is a poor substitute for real planning. I’ll take a proactive approach over a reactive one every single time if possible.
Consider how everything else works. If you want to lose weight, you have to do what it takes. If you want to learn a new skill, you have to do what it takes. If you’re tired of being in a rut, again, you have to do what it takes to get out of it.
You can do it, though. At one point or another, didn’t you do whatever it took to get this far? You paid a price, you learned your craft, you practiced, you asked questions, you made the adjustments. You pushed through fears, doubts, and uncertainties. There comes a time when you need to put all the deliberating aside and finally take your new course of action. Hopefully, what you’ve just read will give you a little more inspiration to take your next step!
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