I’ve heard it said that as you become more successful you don’t get rid of problems, you just get bigger problems. When I first heard that statement my business was in its early stages, and our problems all centered around one primary area – finances. My belief was that if I could just boost revenues and profits our problems would disappear, so I dismissed the statement as just another great business cliché.
During those stressful start-up days, time was never much of an issue. We didn’t have an abundance of clients – so that left me with plenty of time to use visioning and organize tactics for how we would grow into a leader in our market. And grow we did – both annual revenues and profits have increased by 300% annually for the past two years.
How We Fixed the Financial Problem
In all honesty, the financial problem was relatively easy to fix, although at the time, the problem seemed insurmountable. We overcame the financial problem by repeating a few basic fundamentals over and over again. Here’s what we did:
- Verified that our products/services met a true need in the marketplace. (they did)
- Identified our Unique Selling Proposition (USP), and ensured we didn’t lose focus of it.
- Identified who our Ideal Prospects were.
- Identified the message that resonated with them.
- Identified the best method of reaching them.
- Review, Revise, and Repeat.
Despite how emotional and stressful the financial problem was, fixing it really boiled down to those six steps. Sure there were sleepless nights, and a lot of self-doubt surrounding my decision to start Ugly Mug Marketing – but the solution to the problem truly was simple. Although the solution was simple, it required discipline. I’m not referring to once a month, or once a week reviewing these six steps. Nope, I’m referring to daily discipline. Taking small steps each and every day.
The Most Important Business Growth Questions
Although time was plentiful back then, I still didn’t have time to go through all six steps every single day. I knew I needed a quick and simple way to ensure that I was staying on track, and focused on the solutions to my financial problems. By boiling the six simple steps above to their essence, I wrote out two simple questions that became my mission to successfully answer each day. I wrote these two questions on everything. Sticky notes, my journals, my client folders, note cards, the back of business cards, on everything.
- What have I done today to keep my clients?
- What have I done today to attract new clients?
Simple right? But don’t be deceived by their simplicity. It was these two questions that transformed my business, and ultimately resulted in BIGGER problems.
As I discovered the dreaded statement was right – our smaller problems (finances) are no longer a problem. We’ve traded those problems for bigger problems. I’m going to spare you the expense of me listing all our “problems”, but I do want to talk about one that we are currently facing, and the solutions we are using to alleviate it.
Not Enough Time
The problem we’re facing now is the result of such rapid growth – time. Well it’s actually the lack of time that’s the problem. Before our big problem was lack of revenue and profits. This was caused by a lack of good clients. Our problem now is much more complex, and the direct opposite of our initial problem – we have far too many good prospects that want to work with us.
Depending on the type of project, some prospects are having to wait 2 – 3 months before we can get started on their project. We’re literally having to turn away good prospects because we simply don’t have enough time. People are calling, and emailing virtually with money in hand, and we’re having to turn them away.
Trust me, a couple of years ago I was begging for clients, so turning prospects isn’t something I enjoy doing. We’re working diligently to find ways to maintain solid growth, and not sacrifice service or quality in the process.
The first step for us in resolving this issue is to become very efficient and effective managers of our time. All business are given the same 24 hours a day to invest. Yet, some produce amazing results with their 24 hours, while others seem to be going around in circles chasing their own tail.
I’ll be the first to admit, during this rapid growth in at Ugly Mug Marketing, I’ve been guilty of squandering time. Not deliberately. Nope, I’ve been busy working with clients, developing some great campaigns, writing a manifesto, writing for this blog, and creating a new product, but I haven’t been as focused as I should have been.
Have you been there? Have you ever worked tirelessly through a day, only to reach its end and still feel completely overwhelmed by how much you still have left to do? I have! That’s what put me on this quest to become a more effective manager of the time I’ve been given. I’m not only referring to getting more done at work. I’m referring to being effective (and completely present) regardless of what you’re doing. It could be spending time with your family, hanging out with friends, or volunteering at your favorite charity. Being able to not worry about other things while you’re there. Being able to truly enjoy each moment you’ve been given.
The theme this month here on Marketing Confessions is going to be focused on Time Management – making the most of each moment. I’ll share tips, ideas and tools all designed to help you make the most of your time. The month was kicked off with the release of Confessions of a Dying Man. If you haven’t already, go ahead and download your copy. I hope it will become the catalyst you need to make the most of each moment you’ve been given.
What do you struggle with? What is your biggest stumbling block when it comes to making the most of your time? Leave a comment and let me know.