Things a stripy lawn can teach us about business!

Stripes in my lawn!

I was cutting my lawn recently and I noticed that the stripes that I had worked so hard to keep straight had a bend in them! As I was going up and down the lawn focusing all of my efforts into making sure that the front wheel of my mower was  adhering to the wheel mark from the cut coming down the other way I hadn’t noticed that the stripes were gradually going off piste! The front wheel base being narrower than the rear wheel base meant that I wasn’t actually following a straight line but a slightly off centre curve!

Now this got me thinking about a solution to the problem of a lawn that wasn’t looking nice, stripy and perfectly square. (I hear you say sad bastard!) The answer was quite easy when I thought about it! It was to look at the end of the line I wanted to go along and not focus so close to the end of the bonnet so to speak!

By looking further ahead I was more aware of what was happening all around me and had a much clearer view of what needed to happen to keep the lines straight. I then thought that this was a lot like business and confirmed what I find all of the time that most small business owners don’t look far enough ahead. They seem to be too busy being busy and not planning anything for their business or life going forward.

We’ve all heard the expression too busy working IN the business to work ON the business. You may ask why is it that we spend all our time looking at things right under our nose but not seeing the big picture?

Here are a few tips that will help you improve your business and life by changing your focal point;

  1. Set some goals… Even if it’s only small ones to start. At the end of every year I plan my next year with absolute precision breaking it down into quarters then months then weeks then days. Ok, it might not be precise at the end of that year, however I’m always a lot further ahead than if I hadn’t planned anything. After all, if you go into a railway station and ask for a ticket the first thing the ticket clerk will say is “Where to?” If you don’t plan it, it’s very unlikely to happen!
  2. Put it in your diary… If it’s in your diary it’s more likely to happen. The amount of small business owners I meet that don’t keep a diary is astounding and they wonder why they haven’t got any money or their business isn’t growing. Putting things in your diary for the year is a great way to make sure that things start to happen, like HOLIDAYS! Part of my planning is six weeks work then a week’s holiday throughout the year. My wife and I plan the holidays, diarise them and then book with the holiday company, that way there’s no going back. I then work out the budget for them and that goes on the plan of what I need to earn that year.
  3. Say what you do and do what you say… If you’ve booked it and you say you are going to do it, then make sure you do it. There are too many flaky business people out there that book things then don’t turn up because they’ve had a better offer. This behaviour destroys trust and says more about your integrity than anything else. If you only have this one rule in your life it will make a massive difference to the amount of referrals that you get. People like doing business with reliable people, so, if you say your going to do something, THEN DO IT!
  4. Have a look for challenges… One of the most important aspects of good planning is that you can find out what challenges face you in the future. This means taking a bit of time to think about the tasks and wonder what challenges it could throw up. Doing this means that you can work out more accurately how long it might take you to resolve each one and be prepared. Hope for the best and plan for the worst!
  5. Decide what’s most important, and ditch the rest… This may sound like a drastic measure to some, but it really isn’t. The day will quickly fill up with time-wasting activities if you aren’t careful.  So, you must remember that being productive isn’t just about getting things done, it’s also about leaving things undone.  The simplicity and efficiency of today depends heavily on the elimination of non-essential tasks.  You must identify and focus on what’s most important to you, and then ditch as much as you possibly can of everything else. Have a look at my 3F’s video here!

So there you have it, you can focus on the front wheels and have curved stripes or look at the big picture and have a nice straight and stripy lawn!

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