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Six Keys To Survival and Success

Here are six ways to increase your chance of surviving and growing your business.

1. Use the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your time and effort will produce only 20% of the positive results for your business. Turn this the other way around and the power of the rule immediately becomes clear: 20% of your time and effort produces 80% of worthwhile results for your business.

Once you understand this rule, you’re in a better position to leverage your time and effort far more effectively. You want to spend as much of your time as possible on the 20% of activities that really matter.

2. Intensify your focus

The one major characteristic that distinguishes successful businesspeople is their strong focus on achieving their goals. This separates them from less successful businesspeople who spread their energies in too many directions.

Try creating an action plan for each working day. The most important activities become your A list; the rest become B and even less important C activities. Always focus first on the A list. The important question to ask yourself: “What is the most important thing I should be working on right now?’

3. Use your productive hours for productive tasks

Have you noticed that you are more alert, creative and productive at certain times of the day? If you haven’t, take note of your work output over the next couple of weeks.

When you’ve identified your most productive periods, guard these times from distractions that drain your energy, such as administrative tasks. Reserve routine tasks (the B and C items on your action list) for less productive times. This way, you’re grappling with the most important issues when your mind is at its sharpest.

4. Learn to delegate

It’s natural to think that you can do most tasks better than others—particularly if you’ve built up your business from scratch. But if you are to develop your business, you need to get past the fear of losing control and start delegating more to others. If you don’t employ staff, then consider getting outside help to complete administrative or accounting tasks. The two main benefits are that you can avoid overstressing yourself and you gain more time to spend on developing your business rather than getting caught up in the daily activities.

Remember that being busy is not always the same as being productive. For example, if you can earn $80 an hour dealing with customers, spending hours on admin tasks that someone else could do for you for $25 an hour just doesn’t make sense. You could keep yourself very busy by doing those tasks yourself—perhaps even to the point of exhaustion—but you’re not being productive.

5. Develop a clear vision

Maintaining a sharp focus on what is important in your business is closely related to a having strong vision of where the business is heading. Your vision is what keeps you motivated and focused. Your vision for the business is where you want it to go and what goals you want to achieve in the next year and then in the following two years.

Decide on your specific goals for these two-time horizons and then develop the specific stepping stones to these goals. For example: ‘This year we will increase our turnover by 25% and add 250 new customers to our customer database. Our first step is to complete our new website by the end of next month and achieve 15% of our sales online by the end of this quarter.’

These goals are specific and measurable. You can keep everyone informed of progress and celebrate achievements.

6. Communicate your vision

Staff need to be motivated too. They will be more motivated and focused if your spell out your vision for the business, so they know where you want the business to go and how they can work with you to get there. The business vision is always your responsibility as business leader, but it makes sense to encourage their input into the stepping-stone goals that will get you there.

Remember to share your vision with other stakeholders, such as your suppliers, advisors, investors and lenders. No one is interested in supporting a directionless business. Everyone needs to understand that you are leading a business with a firm sense of purpose and direction.