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Brett Davidson: Focus your advice firm away from business-as-usual

Sometimes all that is required to move a firm out of a rut is a fresh look at its to-do list

One of the great frustrations of running your own business is feeling like you are on a treadmill, stuck at your current level of growth. This happens to everyone from time to time but if you’ve been stuck for a while, here are some ideas to get moving again.

1. Start small
When you are in the thick of it, everything seems urgent and important. In my experience, this is never actually the case. Baby steps can make a huge difference to both how your business functions and your perception of progress.

That said, it can often seem that taking even one small step can feel like a huge waste of time. You might feel there are big projects that need completing before things can change.

This line of reasoning is dangerous and unproductive. It is also not true. The real issue here is focus: what are you focusing your attention on?

2. Get focused
By all means, make a list of the things that need doing in your business, but then prioritise and pick one – just one – to focus on. If that one task feels overwhelming, break it down even further until it feels doable.

One project that is 100 per cent completed makes a difference to the performance of your business. Seven projects 92 per cent completed is business hell.

When that one task is completed, move on to the next one. Don’t let biting off more than you and your team can chew deceive you into thinking you are making progress.

Until a project is done completely, it’s not done. Remember, you’ve got your business-as-usual client work to deal with too.

3. Go easy
It helps to order your project list from the most difficult thing to fix to the easiest. Then work in reverse, starting with the easiest tasks first.

Focusing on and fixing one small thing can make the most amazing difference to your business. Every small, easy job you fix creates a little more time and space for thinking more clearly about the bigger, more complex issues. Eventually, you’ll get to a place where it feels absolutely right to have a go at fixing one of your major projects.

4. Take a long-term view
Another mental roadblock many firms face is only focusing on the short term. Some business issues are constantly deferred, in the mistaken belief you need to stay focused on producing income this week/month/quarter.

My recommendation is to make all decisions based on what is right in the long term. Yes, all of them. By making long-term decisions, you will be focused on the foundations for your future growth and success.

Woman jumping from springboardFor example, in the short term, it often feels “right” and less extreme to keep an underperforming staff member. However, the underperformer acts as a huge distraction for everyone else. Other people have to pick up the slack left by someone who can’t or won’t do their job to the level required, which affects productivity and morale, and could even lead to more valuable staff members moving on.

If the issue is a lack of skills and experience, you need to decide whether you want to invest in the training required to bring them up to speed. If you do make that call, you need to acknowledge that it is a long-term decision and you will (hopefully) begin to see an improvement over the following months. However, if the issue is the staff member’s lack of ability or motivation, you may need to simply bite the bullet and replace them.

As the leader of your business, it is crucial that you keep your focus on the right issues, take the long-term view and guide your team to do the same.

Maybe it’s time to refocus and make some sound long-term decisions. There are no shortcuts to where you are headed.

Moving things forward in bite-sized steps and taking a long-term view is the fastest way to building your amazing business.

Brett Davidson is founder of FP Advance

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