Business Growth in Ten Minutes a Day

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on October 27, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Time Management Strategies, Tips in 10

I believe that businesses grow when entrepreneurs focus on the successful development and improvement of their businesses. Unfortunately, it’s not put into practice as often or as effectively as it could be so entrepreneurs only think about business growth, but act on it sporadically. The result of sporadic attention to business growth is, of course, sporadic growth – growth that isn’t sustained, consistent, or firmly rooted in a strong base.

In this article of Tips In Ten, I’m going to give you a plan to grow your business using only ten minutes a day. Now, that might sound humorously insufficient but I would disagree: Ten minutes may not seem like a lot of time but the more widely practiced alternative is for an entrepreneur to think about business growth only when they remember. Instead, short and consistent improvement can be achieved even in just 10 minutes.

So, my very first piece of advice is this: Spend 10 minutes a day working on business growth (I’ll show you how in a moment). If you need to spend longer (and you probably will from time to time) do so, but at the very least take the 10 minutes. What you’ll probably find, as I’ve found, is that the 10 minutes is a required minimum you set for yourself to ensure that you actually focus on it every day. And, from time to time, you’ll need to do (or delegate) additional work.

Growing your business in 10 minutes a day: The preparation
Business growth sounds like a big, unwieldy concept that is not easily mastered so don’t sit down during your 10 minutes of scheduled business growth and ask: “How am I going to grow my business today?” It doesn’t work like that.

Instead, think of your business as a number of different systems that all work together, much like your body is made up of a number of different systems (respiratory, digestive, etc.) that all work together. This whole business growth concept is based around dividing up your business into smaller systems and making small, measurable improvements to each system.

Dividing up your business: Here’s a good way to divide up your business into a series of systems or functions (although you might find that your particular business or industry demand slightly different ways to divide up your business’ systems or functions):

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Production & Delivery
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Organization & Management
  • Innovation
  • Human Resources

If you can improve each of these systems, your business will easily outpace your competition.

Determining metrics: Next, think of a metric for each system. This is where a lot of entrepreneurs fall down because they know that they need to grow their business, and they can usually identify what elements of their business need to grow, but they don’t take this critical step of identifying the metric to measure improvement.

So, sit down and think of a metric that applies to that particular system. It doesn’t have to be the only metric that perfectly measures everything in that system; just working on some aspect of that system is going to make a difference. I’ve written an example metric beside each system, below, but you might think of something more appropriate for your business:

  • Marketing: # of blogs per week
  • Sales: # of conversions per week
  • Customer Service: # of complaints per month
  • Production & Delivery: # of returns
  • Accounting & Finance: Profitability
  • Organization & Management: # of total hours worked
  • Innovation: $ invested on innovation
  • Human Resources: Staff turnover

Figuring out what to elements work on: Once you have your list of systems and you’ve determined metrics for each one, brainstorm what elements contribute to that metric. For example, “# of blogs each week” is pretty easy: The element that contributes to that metric is quite simply the number of blogs you publish. “# of conversions” is a little more complex because it includes how many people are in your prospect list and how “warm” they are and how often you communicate with them. “# of complaints per month” is also complex because it includes the quality of products you make or services you deliver as well as the speed with which you deliver them.

These three preparatory steps of dividing up your business’ systems, determining metrics, and figuring out what elements to work on, may not actually take very much time and once you’ve done those steps, you probably won’t need to do them again for another quarter. Just spend the next three months – doing just ten minutes a day – and work on the elements that contribute to the metrics.

Now schedule it in. During each scheduled 10 minute period of business growth, focus on one of the areas you’ve listed above. (I’ve listed 8 business systems to work on. I’ll use that as an example but you might have 6 or 7 or 9 systems.) So I might schedule 10 minutes on Monday to work on Marketing, 10 minutes on Tuesday to work on Sales, 10 minutes Wednesday to work on Customer Service, and so on. I skip the weekends and loop around into the following week so that over 8 weekdays I’ve spent 10 minutes on each of the systems I want to focus on. Then I start over and I do that for an entire quarter.

Growing your business in 10 minutes a day – the easy and fun part!
Okay, so you’ve arrived at the 10 minutes in your schedule that you want to work on business growth. Just work on some of the elements that contribute to that metric. The goal isn’t to make a profound change today that will skyrocket you to success. That’s not realistic and probably wouldn’t happen in one day even if you spent more than 10 minutes on it. Instead, the point is to just improve the element so that the metric improves.

If it’s Monday and you’re working on marketing and your metric is the number of blog posts published, write a blog post for each day of the week. If it’s Tuesday and you’re working on sales and your metric is the number of conversions, analyze your successful and unsuccessful sales to see what common points led to successful sales and what common points led to losing the sale.

(And now we’re going to pause here for a moment while you say: “Wait a second, Heather, I thought you said I could do this in 10 minutes. Writing blog posts from Monday through Friday will take far more than 10 minutes; analyzing sales will take more than 10 minutes.” To which I respond: Yes, that’s true. However, the point of this 10 minute business growth session is to springboard your business growth, not necessarily accomplish everything in such a short time. So, take 10 minutes to brainstorm 5 blog posts and then delegate the writing to your assistant or a freelance writer. Or, Take 10 minutes to pull together the information so you can look at in the evening between episodes of your favorite TV shows).

Now just do that every day. When your 10 minutes of business growth arrives on your schedule, something with those elements to improve the metric of the system you want to work on that day.

Here’s the result: You’ll have small but consistent, measurable and incremental improvements across nearly all areas of your business. Ten minutes won’t feel like much but it adds up. Just make sure you “move the needle” a little every day and your business will grow. Come up with something in those 10 minutes to move the needle and either do it in those 10 minutes, get it ready to do later, or delegate it to someone else. However it gets done, you’ll contribute to your business growth in a surprisingly short time.

Business growth doesn’t happen on its own. It takes attention and effort but all too frequently it’s something that gets pushed aside for more urgent matters. You can easily correct this by spending just 10 minutes a day working on business growth. It may not seem like much but it will add up!

Bonus Tips:

Here are a couple of final recommendations:

  • For some of you, “# of blog posts” isn’t going to be a great metric. I just used that as an example. Perhaps you use AdWords, so improving your click-through rate might be a better metric. Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s a metric of significance to your business. There’s no sense in choosing a metric that doesn’t actually contribute to your overall business!
  • Do these 10 minutes of schedule business growth sessions early in the day. I’ve found that if you schedule it later in the day, it’s too easy to put off for something else that seems more important. However, if you schedule it as one of the first things you do in the day, it’s far easier to actually do.
  • Do this for one quarter. Then, when the quarter is up, you have three choices: Either work on different systems (if you only worked on a few in the quarter), or create new metrics for the systems you’ve already been working on, or just continue doing what you’ve been doing.

Heather Recommends:

If you are a coach, freelancer, or entrepreneur who wants to succeed like a pro, I can help.

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