Business Growth in Ten Minutes a Day… IS Possible

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 18, 2010 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Time Management Strategies, Tips in 10

In some article of Tips In Ten I give you “little picture” projects that you can do well in 10 minutes: Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, that kind of thing. They are important but often self-contained and fairly specific.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is business growth. Big picture stuff! And, yes, it can be done in 10 minutes. Well, not JUST ten minutes. But in ten minute increments. Here’s how:

First you need to think of your business growth as a project, but not many people think of business growth in that way because projects have an outcome and business growth is often a little foggily defined. When you take the project management approach to your business growth, you’ll find that 10 minute increments are actually quite easy to create and achieve.

Step 1: Create outcomes. (Duration: 10 minutes)

Some people call these business goals. That’s fine, but in my opinion it minimizes the concept of the project (and often business goals are poorly defined). Avoid goals/outcomes like “I want to be able to retire” or “I want to be as famous as [a famous person in your industry]”. Instead, think of your goals and outcomes as measurable achievements, not unmeasurable ones. So, for example, some better goals would be “I want to earn $20,000 in a month” or “I want to work 6 hours per day but maintain my current level of income.” Notice the difference? Compared to the retirement goal or the infamy goal, the latter examples are far more measurable.

Step 2: Identify the influencers. (Duration: 10 minutes)

Every outcome will have factors that influence it. Earning $20,000 per month, for example, is clearly going to be influenced by the rate you charge, the hours you work, the number of days you work, and the number of clients you take on. Maintaining your current level of income but working fewer hours probably has less to do with the number of additional projects you take on but rather the efficiency with which you work your current tasks.

List as many influencers as you can think of. The more detailed you get at this point, the easier it will be later to make an improvement. If you can only think of three or four influencers, that’s fine, although I’ve seen a dozen or more influencers on a project. In most cases, you’ll always have more than one or two influencers.

Step 3: Add metrics. (Duration: 10 minutes, maybe longer)

This is the part that everyone wants to skip because metrics seem boring. But they are the key to actually growing your business. Beside each influencer from the previous step, add metrics: Write down how you measure each influencer and what your current measurement is. A coach who currently earns $14,000 per month and wants to bump that up to $20,000 might have current metrics of $100/hour for 7 hours a day of work over 20 workdays. They write down those metrics and current numbers beside each influencer. This step might take you longer than 10 minutes if you have a lot of metrics or if you’ve never worked with concrete business numbers before.

Step 4: Create a plan for incremental improvement – Part 1 (Duration: 10 minutes)

Using your list of influencers and metrics, create a plan for incremental improvement spread over a period of time. The coach who wants to go from $14,000/month to $20,000/month may not be able to make the $6,000 jump in one month. They may need to make a series of increases over a period of time. Those increases might come in the form of rate increases, days or hours worked, or some combination. For example, they might start by bumping up their rate from $100 to $120 in the first month, which gets them to $16,800 in the first month. Then they might increase the number of hours they work in a day from 7 to 8, earning them $19,200 in the second month. Then they might increase the number of days they work in the third month to 21, which earns them $20,160 per month. This plan may not be right for you; I just wanted to show you how incremental improvements over a period of months can help you achieve the business growth outcomes you were hoping for.

Step 5: Create a plan for incremental improvement – Part 2 (Duration: 10 minutes)

Now that we have an incremental improvement overview, it’s time to get more detailed. In what way will you do each of the activities you’ve listed? The coach in our example above will need to think about how they will raise their rate: Will they just do an across-the-board increase? How will they communicate it? Will they not raise it for current clients but make it the new price only for new clients? How will clients perceive the increase in price compared to the value they get? Can the client be replaced if they are driven away by the price increase? In this narrower focus, you need to consider as many possibilities as you can and list what to do about them. In our example, the coach might first consider intentionally highlighting and increasing the sense of value each client feels from the service they receive and then follow it up later with a letter outlining the coming price increase.

During this part, two things are going to happen:

First, you need to break individual projects down into 10 minute segments. In our example above, a letter to clients telling them about a rate increase might take a couple of 10 minute segments to get just right, and then another 10 minute segment to print it or upload it to your email distribution system and test it.

Second, you may have to adjust the timeline you created in the first part of the plan. In our example, the coach wanted to make one incremental change each month for 3 months but, as we’ve just discussed, the coach probably needs one month of lead-in time to improve the perception of value. So that necessitates a timeline adjustment.

You should end up with a big list of 10 minute tasks that will contribute directly to the influencers that will impact your intended business outcomes.

Step 6: Implement. (Duration: 10 minutes a day)

Now to start implementing. Make sure you include implementation in your schedule each day. Spend 10 minutes working on one of the incremental tasks. Cross it off your list. On the next day, do the next one. And so on. When you do the other steps, this one is easy: Schedule… and do!

Bonus Tips:

I find people generally trip up in a couple of areas so I’m going to give you some tips and pointers to help you stay on track:

  • Your goals need to be realistic. Remember that there is always a relationship between the size of the goal and the timeline you assign. A big goal in a short time is not possible. A small goal over a short time or a big goal over a long time is much more possible. Remember, you are making incremental improvements so a big goal over a long time is actually a whole bunch of small goals over a short time, with each one building on the other.
  • During the plan development stage – steps 4 and 5 – it  can be tempting to add ideas that sound great… but not all ideas directly impact the metrics you have identified. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself after you’ve written down each one: “Will this actually contribute to the improvement?”
  • When building your business growth plan, it’s easy to default to tasks that require increased effort on your part. In the example mentioned earlier, the coach increased the number of hours they worked in a day and the number of days they worked in a month. Those are often the first influencers that come to mind. But don’t forget that other opportunities exist as well, such as passive income opportunities. It’s not always about increasing your effort.
  • Business growth can sometimes also increase business expenses. Make sure that you are prepared for those expenses. In our example above, the coach who increased his or her income from $14,000 to $20,000 probably had some expenses rise as well. They would first need to decide whether the increase was net or gross and make necessary adjustments in the plan. (For example, if they wanted a $6,000 net increase, they would need to make more in order to allow for taxes and expenses).

Business growth is an exciting and a long term effort. But you can do it in just ten minute segments every day.

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.