Essential Vs. Growth Activities In Business
For many business owners, the challenge of growth is a big one.
Most business owners struggle with the actual tactics of how to grow business. But for those who have identified how they need to grow and develop, there never seems to be enough time or resources to make these things happen.
At the end of the day, you are measured by your results and what you actually do, rather than what you could do.
This is something that plagues many business owners as they strive to grow their business.
William S. Burroughs is credited with the quote, “When you stop growing, you start dying.”
But I hear you say…… I don’t have time for any of that!
In my business, I’m the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker.
As it turns out, we’re all busy and it just so happens that everyone has the same number of hours each day.
So why is it that some people achieve more each day than others?
Well in simple terms it comes down to focus and priorities. But that’s not really the issue; the issue is What you focus on and What you prioritize.
In business, if you don’t focus on the core activities that are going to drive growth, you can end up being busy being busy. We all know the saying “if you don’t control your day your day will control you.”
An example of this could be a business owner who runs around all day putting out fires within their business, i.e., he/she runs around correcting staff, yelling at people and making a general nuisance of themselves. Obviously, all of these things could be avoided if they had better recruitment policies, induction processes, training programs, staff monitoring, and KPI’s in place.
What I’ve found over the years working with clients is that they tend to focus on tasks that fall under the category of “emotionally safe.” These tasks tend to be activities that they have a high level of skill of experience in, enjoy doing or activities that offer low emotional vulnerability. The end result is that they tend to work long hours and generate little or no value for the entire day.
An example of this could be a business operator that has a technical background and spends his time “playing” with the technical aspects rather than making sales and chasing up new work.
Essential vs. Growth
As discussed earlier a lot of business owners, and in particular small business owners view all tasks as essential. This is because if they don’t do it, then no one else will. Thus everything becomes essential.
That’s not a problem per se, but one needs to understand the difference between Essential Tasks and Growth Tasks.
All essential tasks need to be done in order to keep the business running. However, growth tasks do not, and this is the reason why they happen to fall by the wayside.
The following chart below shows the difference between the three levels of tasks. One being tasks that somewhat helps the business, the next are essential tasks that need to be completed in order to keep a business running. The last is growth tasks that actually help grow and develop a company.
To grow any business, you have to really think about how you use your time.
Think about it this way, how do I produce a 10,000% return on my time?
What tasks can I do that continually produce value over time, i.e., the completed task has a reoccurring or residual value.
This graph shows the difference in growth between a company can experience when engaging in Essential tasks vs. Growth tasks.
One of the biggest lessons small business owners can take from corporates like venture capital and private equity firms is, they focus on the things that drive sales and growth.
There are a number of ways they do this, and it really depends on the business and the industry. But to keep things simple, they create KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and track and measure the MOST IMPORTANT tasks that will produce success.
All small and medium businesses can apply this growth principle. Find out what drives your industry, then apply some matrices to those tasks.
1% Growth Every Day!
The 1% growth principle is just that. Strive to grow your business by 1% each and every day.
Let’s put some numbers behind the 1% growth rule.
Let’s assume you can grow your business by 1% each day (you can look at this on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis) which I might add isn’t very hard if you haven’t maximized all your potential growth channels.
On a 5-day working week, working 48-weeks per year, it’s possible to grow your business by 240% for the year.
Now some of you might be thinking that this example is not realistic, so let’s look at it from a more conservative approach.
What if you grew your business by 2% each week, on a 48-week working year, this would mean that your business would grow by 96% for the year.
Now, this is not entirely accurate because there would be a compounding effect that would take place.
An example as follows:
So, let’s say in January you revamped your website and added a few freebies (free downloads) for people to download. The goal of this was to collect email addresses.
Midway through January, you built an email sales funnel.
Now comes along February and you decided to give free initial consultations.
You also started using some software that cut down your administration time by 1 hour each day.
Now the obvious growth from this example is that your website has been improved, you’ve created a freebie, and now you’re collecting email addresses.
You’ve set up a CRM system and a sales funnel to engage with prospects.
You’re offering a free initial consultation, and you’ve increased your productivity by 12.5% each day. These are the obvious gains that you’ve made.
But it’s important to note that there’s been a compounding effect that is starting to take effect.
Because you have improved your website and are now offering freebies, your database of prospects has increased and continued to grow each month.
Because of that, you are now able to offer free consultations which has intern increased your conversion rate.
Additionally, because you have an extra hour each day, this gives you time to chase more sales.
With all things being equal this should continue throughout the rest of the year.
What can be done to improve performance?
Create “Growth Time” or a “Growth Day”
One tactic that can be used to garnish growth is to create a growth time each day. By creating space for growth, you’re giving yourself the best chance to engage in activities that are going to drive your business forward.
Set some time for growth each day/week, make it a priority, stick to it. Be disciplined.
Only “count” growth tasks
When reflecting on what you have achieved each day or week.
Only count activities that are growth related. Never consider essential tasks as achievements for the day.
Set yourself up for success
Identify and set up KPI’s that will drive success. This will create discipline and focus you on tasks that drive growth.
If you don’t achieve the KPI, ask yourself “how” or “what” needs to happen in order to achieve it.
Outsource all minimum wage activities!
One of the best ways to grow your business is to delegate, outsource, automate or eliminate tasks that are minimum wage or low value.
Many small business owners spend a disproportionate amount of their time on tasks that don’t directly drive value.
Again, these tasks are important, and they need to be done, but they add little in the way of value generation and prevent businesses from achieving growth.
If there are growth tasks that need to happen, and you don’t have the skills or expertise to do them, then outsource them to someone who can help you. The important thing is that they get done.
If you are committed to growing your business, the first step should be an in-depth business analysis to better understand your business’ potential.
Strategy States business evaluation tool is a great place to start. It provides the most comprehensive analysis of your business and creates a roadmap for growth.