You’ve taken the leap, started your business, and have been tackling your million-item to-do list. Problem is, you’re still not seeing the kind of results you want. Whether it’s web traffic, lead generation, sales, etc. By whatever yardstick you’re using, not much is happening. You’re working nights and weekends, but can’t seem to move the needle. You’re frustrated, discouraged, confused, and maybe even depressed.
And not alone.
Every entrepreneur wrestles with these periods. You’re working your butt off, and can’t seem to make headway.
So what’s the problem?
You can check out some of the most common reasons why you aren’t getting results to see if you’re falling into any of those traps. Reflecting on my own work habits, a lot of the time I spend working is actually busywork–that is, work that’s pretty low value and doesn’t move me significantly toward my goals.
For example, starting any business, one of the first tasks that might come to mind is writing a business plan–after all, that’s what any business-school professor would tell you. Problem is, writing a business plan takes a ton of time, and doesn’t have much value–the time spent on it won’t get you customers. Do you really want to waste a month writing a plan that you won’t use?
How to get faster business results with “high-value” tasks
Recently, I discovered something that’s gotten me more results, faster: focusing exclusively on high-value tasks.
Instead of spending your time on that low-value task, identify and take action only on high-value tasks: those tasks that will immediately propel you toward your goals.
If you’re familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, high-value tasks are similar to “next actions” (you can read a bit more about “next actions” here and here); a “next action” is defined as “the next physical action that can move the project forward.” For example, if you have a project named “get my first client,” you’re next action could be one of the following:
- Make a list of prospective clients.
- List at least 5 marketing channels where I can find prospects to contact.
- Call Mr. Flapjack Turnbuckle, VP of Sales, at ABC company to identify his pain points and show how I can help.
For high-value tasks, I go a step further than the generic “next action” definition, and identify the task that has the biggest payoff. In the above list, talking to a prospect is going to be incredibly valuable, since you can get a ton of info on your market’s pain points and how you can pitch your services to them. That task is going to accelerate ALL your marketing efforts much faster than either of the other “next actions.”
So, instead of just doing whatever work comes to mind, focus exclusively on high-value tasks and IGNORE everything else. You’ll be surprised at how fast your progress will be.
Now it’s your turn: In the comments below, list one high-value task that you’ll work on over the next few days.
(Photo credit: Hard Work, Businessman via Shutterstock)