Being focused on a task means that we’re devoting the most mental resources to it that we can. Still, in our multitasking society, it’s practically a collective cultural habit to not pay much attention to anything specific in favor of spreading our attention rather thin. This is not only a bad idea when it comes to human relationships, it also won’t help when growing your business.
Trying to do too much at once divides resources, and the quality of any one task begins to suffer. Very often we may not even be able to complete any of our tasks.
This is where you will have to find a middle ground. Of course you don’t want to become nearsighted and miss all of the opportunities around you, but on the other hand you don’t want to get distracted. Luckily, there are some ways to find the balance you need—strategies that you can employ to keep both focused and alert at the same time.
Below are five ways to grow your business like a boss without having to sacrifice all of your time.
1. The key to Growing Your Business is to Stop Spinning Your Wheels
Feeling like you spend a lot of time working while hardly moving forward is a sign of a bigger problem. The problem is most likely that you are spreading yourself too thin. You lack focus, and things aren’t going to get better with your business if you don’t address it.
For example, one thing that can cause a person to “spin their wheels” and hardly get anywhere is having a vast array of niches. Remember that you can’t be specialized in too many things or else it’s no longer a specialization. Too many ideas with no implementation is a bad business strategy, especially when you’re first starting out. There simply aren’t enough time and resources to spend on dozens of niches. Have a small focus and then expand, otherwise you could find yourself struggling to make everything work.
Of course you're going to need a plan for success. That’s expected. It’s part of having a business and creating cash flow. However, don’t make things more complicated than necessary by having more than one strategy that will just lead to more problems to deal with down the line.
Maybe you want to start monetizing your writing skills with a blog and you decide that you’re going to use affiliate marketing to do this. While that is certainly a valid source of income, a decent recurring profit isn’t built over night. It takes time and focus to see your first return on investment.
Were you to focus solely on this monetization strategy until you determined whether or not it was a good fit you would probably make good money. From there, you could expand. A lot of people who start out selling other people’s products end up making and selling their own. Once you know the basics of selling this becomes easier.
In fact, you might have already thought of this. Maybe you noticed others selling their own products and making a ton of money so you threw together a product yourself and started trying to sell it.
Now you have both affiliate sales and your own product to deal with, but you’re ambitious so you add some consultation work on the side.
People may indeed benefit from all of these services, and you may have three viable sources of income, but things can start to get confusing.
There will come a time where you find yourself with scarce time and resources. What do you do? In this scenario, you may have to decide between updating your product or spending more time consulting with those who need personal guidance.
All the while you have to worry about your affiliate sales. The stress begins to mount, but you’re not done yet. You realize that you could make lots of money if you also sold your content-creation services.
There are tons of people out there who don’t know how to build their own product, and you know you could totally help them with that. On the other hand, maybe you could find another person in your creative field and launch a product together with them!
Before you’ve even realized what’s happening, you’re spreading yourself way too thin… again, and now all of these great ventures have become kind of half-baked. None of them have succeeded the way you intended.
Give your full focus to every part of your business. It has to be cared for lovingly and with lots of attention, like a newborn child. Becoming interested in something and then abandoning it shortly after is not a good business model.
2. Your One Focus Should Not Hold You Back From Success
You may be thinking that you’ll start your business as an online endeavor. Sure. Why not? Running a business online can be quite lucrative. However, just as with any business, it’s going to take time for it to really get going and as a businessperson you should never lose sight of that.
Let’s say you decide that you want to monetize your creative copywriting skills by selling affiliate products. You can make great money, but again, it’s not going to be immediate.
If you think that you’ll be able to cash out three days after your first sale, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. It can take two or three months for the payments to get settled since this model requires the money to pass through a lot of middlemen first.
This isn’t even counting the time it takes to build things up on your end. Before you monetize just about any website, with any method, you’re going to need to spend some time building up your traffic.
Let’s be honest. Any business takes time to build. That's really the deep-down reason why most people don't do it. It takes a lot of patience and you have to stay motivated even when things don’t seem like they are moving forward. It takes a lot of “faith,” so to speak, so you may not want to start with a model like affiliate marketing that takes such a large up-front investment of time. It could ultimately be discouraging.
If, however, you decide that affiliate marketing is what you’d like to do then one way to start monetizing an online business faster is to promote other people’s informational products similar to what you might find on a site like Clickbank. Your ROI will come a lot faster because there's less middlemen involved with these digital products and a lot of the time you'll actually get paid right away.
The nice thing about info products is that you can find one that’s already in your niche. This makes it a lot easier to get started, since you don’t have to build things from scratch. If you already have an info product of your own, you can easily add a new product to the mix this way.
It’s often easier to sell the products of other more well-known people than to sell your own in the beginning. Just make sure to keep the products relevant to your niche in order to not confuse visitors to your site.
3. Always Shoot for the Finish Line
Lots of people will enthusiastically start their first business, get it halfway to launch, and then quit or forget about it. Why do they do this? A lot of the time, they have plenty of convincing-sounding excuses. For example, they may not have had the knowledge to continue.
Even more often, people will forget about projects that they start when something shiny and novel catches their eye. The new strategy just seems so much more viable, and the grass always seems so much greener, so they hop over to the new project and never actually finish the last one. This pattern may repeat many times.
The problem with this is that the most important part of a business is the follow-through. Projects that remain unfinished can become a mental burden that will color your next efforts. A cure for this wishy-washy attitude is to know what you want ahead of time.
Having exactly what you want to accomplish defined in your head will keep you from wanting to dabble so much. Since you'll have a defined goal, the road kind of carves itself in your mind and it will keep your motivation in top gear.
Even if you know that something is going to take a long time, with a lot of upfront resources and without an immediate ROI, you will still feel better about sticking it out because you know that a reward will come in the end.
This is how you keep your goals in sharp focus. Plan ahead of time and make sure you have everything you think you’ll need before you start. Buy all the tools and hire all the help you’ll need as early as possible. It will keep you from slowing down and experiencing waning motivation.
Let’s say that you want to create a helpful informational product; however, you’re a graphic designer by trade, not a writer, and you need someone to take your ideas and transform them into something readable. Either plan to hone your writing skills or start reaching out to your network for help finding a decent writer.
Or, maybe you feel like you already have way too much on your plate and trying to learn a new skill at the moment is going to keep you from trucking along until you reach your goal. Bite the bullet and outsource the work. Truly, friend, it’s one of the best investments you can make in your business.
Another stumbling block can be perfectionism. (Hello, pot. It’s kettle calling.) Some products never get launched because the creator is constantly changing things about it, trying to reach the elusive ideal. There's a certain point where you have to let go and realize that your “baby” is all grown up.
In order to figure out whether the job is done, ask yourself these questions: Has the goal you set been reached? Did you do your absolute best given the time constraints? If the answers are “yes,” then you are done. Go have a beer.
Tell other people of your plans if that’s what it takes. Having a set plan with set goals is the only way that you’ll know your goal has been reached. It’s also the best way to prevent the finish line from feeling like it’s constantly moving ahead of you, which can be very demoralizing.
4. Building Multiple Streams of Income
Many businesses have different products and services—"branches", if you will—and there isn't anything inherently wrong with this model. However, just as a tree doesn't start with a million branches and then add the roots and trunk later. You must build the roots of your business first, let it grow into a powerful self-sustaining stem, and only then begin to add branches one at a time.
In other words, you must build your streams of income slowly. Your first branch, or the “trunk” of your business, should be whatever is immediately profitable. This one will be the main source of your sustainable income, which you can then use as leverage for the other branches.
Do everything you can to be profitable as soon as possible. If you are not profitable, don't add more to your plate! In most cases, this means to go with something like a service. People constantly need services, and you can often make decent cash upfront from selling your skills. Going back to our graphic designer example... selling your services on a freelance basis can be the “trunk” of your business endeavor.
It is only once you generate income that will provide you with creative wiggle room that you should start to try other things. Get that first income stream down before anything else.
Adding multiple “branches” at the same time is simply not advisable. Your goal should be to have multiple income streams, but focus and work on each of them one at a time. After the foundation is built, add your own product that complements your business. Sounds basic, but it works.
Once that product begins to sell, and doesn’t need individual attention anymore, get to work on the next product that will create your next stream of income.
This can be difficult at first because you may not have the capital to have all of this outsourced so you may have to do everything yourself. That’s fine. It’s actually good because it gives you an understanding of how the work needs to be done which will be beneficial when you can finally hire help.
Once you have a self-sustaining branch that gives you steady profit you can safely move onto another aspect of your business, such as consultation services.
As with the other parts of your business, work on this new aspect until it has a solid foundation as well. Just as you build a house, build your business one brick at a time and try to be patient. Focus is the key; multitasking is a recipe for disaster.
5. Create a Business That Won't Take Up All of Your Time
One of the most basic, foundational skills of an entrepreneur is time management. You just can't get away from this reality.
Time management is more than just being good at chunking your tasks and scheduling yourself. It’s actually about being extremely efficient and knowing that some tasks just aren’t worth the time at all. As a business owner, you must be ruthless when it comes to your precious time.
Regardless, of how efficient you become you will always have to spend a number of hours on your business. Make those hours count. And make sure that you have time to do everything that needs to be done each day; this is the only way to really be successful.
Don't fill your itinerary with a million pointless tasks; eliminate unnecessary work and get to the meat of what will actually move your business forward. Open up parts of your schedule to focus exclusively on your business, and stick to that commitment.
Make enough time for your project to get off the ground and be a true success. Don’t rush. Give the kind of care and attention to your business plans that they need. Having too much on your plate will only lead to failure.
Instead of spreading yourself thin with an hour here and there block out two to four hours of your time to do concentrated work. This will actually save you time in the end because there will be less wasted effort switching through tasks. Concentration can be a powerful tool.
Give 100% of your attention to your business because that is when you do your best work.Click to tweet
Sometimes, you'll have to “prune the branches” a bit in order to increase your rate of growth. You may also find that you’ll have to pool your resources in one area where your attention is needed the most; having the ability to do this can help make your business a success.
Whenever you notice that you might have to “prune,” consider whether or not you should get rid of that aspect of your business altogether. It can often be better to lower the mental burden and move forward faster than to always have something unfinished waiting around for you.
Do you feel like you manage your time well? How could you improve your time management? Tell us in the comments!
About the Author
Andrea Hubbert, principal at Hub+company, is a versatile integrated marketing communications professional with one primary passion: to empower creative individuals and their companies to design and market the business lives of their dreams.