It’s no secret that if you want to build something that can grow and last, you need a solid foundation. What you do before breakfast is the foundation for your entire day. And your day is the foundation for your week. And the week is the foundation for your month. You get the point. Each day matters when you are growing a business.
A few years ago, I was working my butt off to try to grow my company. I was exhausted and broke most of the time, though. Then I implemented three simple tasks before breakfast and increased my income 80%. Best of all, I got back 20 hours of my life each week.
Here is how it went…
Prior to implementing my LJS (as I call it) I was up early every day and I hit the ground running. The first thing I did was grab my phone and “clean” my email inbox. I scrolled through my messages, bulk deleting anything that didn’t seem important. I made mental notes about the “fires” that showed up in my email and started thinking about to handle them. After grabbing a quick breakfast, I dashed to the office and started the daily grind of answering calls and emails, trying to handle sales and customer service and keep all the other balls in the air, too.
No matter how early I started, though, I just could never get ahead. Then I decided to get off the treadmill and get focused. Of course, I did a one-page business blueprint (it is the cornerstone of our company after all). And I decided to change the way I approached my morning. I decided to build a better foundation under my day. That foundation consists of three deceptively simple tasks.
Learning – I know with certainty that, if I want to grow my company this year, I’m going to have to make changes to the way we do things. That means I have to go about my work in a new and better way. And that means learning about new and better ways of running a business.
The methods vary – books, videos, online courses, podcasts – but the process is always the same. I sit down with new information and a notebook (I’m old school but you can use Evernote or other note-taking software if you prefer) and I invest at least 30 minutes in learning something new.
I’m a marketing junkie so much of what I learn is about marketing but in the last year I’ve also read books on accounting, sales, biography, social media, creative thinking, emotional freedom technique, political campaigning and brain chemistry to name a few. It doesn’t matter what you invest in learning as long as it relates to your business. A Tom Clancy novel isn’t likely to be critical to your long-term success. By starting my day with learning, I’m activating the creativity centers of my brain and opening my mind to new approaches. I’m also creating an environment of focus before I dive into the black hole of email and phone calls.
Journaling – after my learning time, I take about five minutes to write in my journal. I most often use Day One on my computer for my writing but I also have a spiral notebook for days when I prefer pen in hand. What tool you use doesn’t matter – choose the one that works best for you. How much I write each day varies quite a bit. It depends on what I’ve read and how much it impacted me as well as what happened the day before. But each journal entry contains the same basic information.
First, I write a quick summary of the day before. Wins, losses, lessons learned and anything else that I want to analyze and let go of. I’ve found that once I write something down in my journal, I can get it out of my head and stop mentally chewing on it. Prior to journaling daily, I used to have a mind full of “head trash” that weighed down my thinking. With writing, I find that I can talk my way through a problem on paper and solve it quickly and easily. Next, I write down my key action items from my morning learning. My detailed notes are in my notebook but I like to have a few bullet points of actions I’m going to take. Finally, I write down my goals for the day. Typically, I write three things that I absolutely commit to accomplishing before noon. That helps me get hyper-focused on the most important tasks just in case all hell breaks loose later in the day. Don’t laugh – you know it happens.
Stats – the last thing I do before heading off to grab some grub is to look at yesterday’s sales and marketing stats. It takes me about 3 minutes to pull them together from a few pieces of software and summarize them in a spreadsheet. Yes, I look at sales and marketing stats every day. Every. Day. Sales and marketing are the lifeblood business. If you don’t watch them like a hawk, it is easy to get behind your goals. And once you are behind, it is hell to get back on track.
I look at both activity and results each day because they change in my company each day. Even if you have the kind of company that doesn’t close sales each and every day you must look at your sales activities each day. In our company I look at number of ad impressions, number of downloads of free products, sales dollars and conversion rates for each step of our sales funnel, cost per click, and ROI per month for six months.
This daily dashboard tells me if we are on or off track for our goals so I can make immediate adjustments if necessary. It takes about 40 minutes for me to complete these three steps each morning. In the two years since I’ve been using this process, my income has increased 80% and I’ve cut 20 hours per week out of my work schedule. I’ve used this process with many of my clients and they find it works wonders for them, too.
Give it a shot in your business and let me know how it works for you.
[Note: Many of you will add that exercise in the morning is a great habit, too. I fully agree. I get really sleepy after working out so I have shifted my daily exercise to the evenings. However, I do recommend putting exercise in your calendar wherever it works best for you.]