In my last post, I talked about making “buckets” instead of resolutions, which was inspired by an article I read that talked about using single words to focus on the most important things we want to achieve.
In thinking about my business and all businesses in general, I came up with 4 words or “buckets” (yes, I realize I said people remember odd numbered lists better so this may be updated to 5 at a later date). A candidate for the 5th word is “Improve”, but technically that’s building as well.
Here they are:
That’s it. Read no more.
Think about it. Everything you ever need to do for your business falls under one or more of these 4 things. If every day, every week, every month, every quarter and every year, you thought about these 4 actions for your business or organization, where would you be? The next time you feel overwhelmed or suffering analysis paralysis, what if you asked yourself, “What’s the one most important thing I should do to…
… guide my business?
Plan the year. Talk to potential partners. Run some cash projections.
… run my business?
Send invoices. Set up a customer management system. Hire an assistant. Fix the website.
… build my business?
Talk to clients. Write an article and share it. Go to a networking meeting. Learn a new skill.
… protect my business?
Check your cashflow. Read up on competitors. Consult with an attorney. Organize your paperwork. Pay your taxes.
Face it, there’s always going to be “stuff to do”. If there isn’t, you’re not in business–not a growing one, anyway. Don’t shame yourself into thinking you’re behind and you’ll never catch up. Don’t use “I’m so busy” as a weird badge of honor (I’m ashamed to say I’ve done both). I could say that saying such things brings down your soul or something very new agey but I won’t. At the very least, saying that stuff is mental clutter. Noise.
Each thing in a to do list is a mini decision we have to make. What stresses us out is having to make decisions (I’m going to have to look up the science on this) so if we can whittle down our massive to do list into these buckets, we can get some clarity and some peace. In an hour or a day, pick one of the bucket items and do the most important thing that supports that bucket item.
What’s great about the 4-bucket list is that you’re not thinking in terms of artificial “stuffy” constructs like “marketing”, “accounting”, “strategy”, “due diligence”… they are simple, active verbs. For me, these words induce actual images in my head which trigger a visceral/emotional response. I believe images have the power to motivate in ways that abstract thoughts cannot.
Here’s a thought experiment. What’s the difference between these two sentences to you?
1 – What can I do to build my business?
2 – What can I do to increase sales?
Yes, I admit, it’s a mental game you are playing with yourself. Mathematically, it might still be the same amount of stuff to do. But mentally… organizing your to-dos into these buckets gives you clarity. It also helps you keep a balanced approach to all things business instead of only focusing on sales, or over-planning and not doing, continually starting projects with no rhyme or reason, even leaving things to chance and banking on luck. And by the way, you don’t have to directly do all of the items for these 4 buckets; it may make absolute sense to delegate certain things or even subcontract work. Either way, if you think about and manage your business in terms of these 4 buckets, you’ll have a strong foundation from which to grow and succeed.
So I’d love to know what would fall under your 4-bucket list in the comments below. Or would you prefer a different set of buckets?