Business does not need to mean busyness, which so many business owners seem to feel it has to be or have got into the habit of doing. It seems that when people start a business the first thing they do is to step onto the ‘Hamster Wheel’ then begin running and we all know where a hamster gets once it is on the wheel! The interesting thing is, though, every now and again the hamster gets off the wheel has something to eat or drink, surveys the environment before getting back on the wheel. The business owner, on the other hand, keeps going because they feel that to be successful they have to be continuously ‘busy’. This can lead to the point where you find that the wheel is still turning, but the hamster is dead (I will let you decide what the hamster is representative of).
Stephen Covey in his highly successful book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ has a complete chapter dedicated to the habit of ‘Sharpening the Saw’ explained with the parable of two woodcutters cutting down trees – one who keeps going even though his saw is becoming more and more blunt and useless, the other stops at regular intervals to sharpen his saw and finishes in good time leaving the first still cutting. This habit is not only important in your personal life, but also in your business life so that the hamster wheel can keep turning in a productive manner.
In business a monthly board meeting can give you the opportunity to stop, refresh, review and plan a more productive next month. I would like to add the caveat that this is not an excuse to expend a lot of hot air, it should be a focused, structured use of time which will lead to planning productive tasks. To run an effective session it is important that you understand your own business and where you are taking it as this will give you the key areas for you to review and plan for. There is little point reviewing areas that do not add value to your business or your life. I have just started reading ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ by Timothy Ferriss and one of his key early points is to use the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule) and to focus hard on the 20% of things that bring you 80% of your profitable and important results. If you are discussing the 80% that brings you the 20% of profit during your monthly meeting you are using up valuable time.
Some of the important areas you should be thinking about are:-
- Key numbers.
- Sales Pipeline.
- Performance against targets.
- Cashflow and cash management.
- Activities to generate the results you are looking for.
- What should the next month be like?