Once upon a time on a farm, there was a pig and a chicken. They were well looked after by the farmer and really appreciated that he gave them their favourite foods and made their homes clean and comfortable. One day, the chicken was talking to the pig and said, “Did you know that Farmer is having a birthday this week?” The pig replied, “No, I didn’t. It would be nice to do something for him“. The chicken and the pig went on with their day trying to think of a gift.
As they admired the sun setting over the hills, the chicken said, “I’ve got a grand idea! Let’s do a nice fry-up for Farmer!” The pig got a little nervous when she heard this idea. “Er… a fry-up?” The chicken replied, “Sure and it would be lovely! Think of how Farmer will enjoy starting his morning off with a gift from us.” The pig felt even more nervous. After all, she really did love the farmer and wanted to do something special. The pig answered the chicken, “Now hang on a moment. It’s not that easy. You’ve just got to lay an egg or two. For me, this is a full on commitment!”
Which one are you in your small business?
This is a tougher question than you might think at first. The knee-jerk reaction for most of us is that we’re the pig. Fully committed and fully passionate about what we do. This is not to say that our first thought is entirely untrue. The real test is in our actions. One of my clients has this fabulous vision for where his company will be in twenty years. He wants to build a business that makes a profit and is fulfilling and community-oriented. But he wavers about being the pig.
Simply put, it’s a lot of work to be the pig.
It means that every working day you are attentive to what makes the business healthy. Sometimes, time slips away and tasks don’t get done due to illness, stress, unexpected events or interruptions. For my client, in one week, he has to meet with prospective clients, facilitate a meeting with a new marketing consultant, review a project management plan with designated staff and complete a report that will go to a governmental agency. In a recent session, he expressed feeling worried that he wouldn’t be able to get it all done he didn’t know what was most important. The best part was when he figured out a plan for each day of the week which included identifying which priority had to be met on a specific day.
When you are the leader and manager of a small business, it’s your responsibility to keep the focus on the strategic plan. And while you are doing this, you are also using your technical expertise. It’s a balancing act that requires good management of your time and being able to prioritise.
Find your inner pig.
That may sound a bit flip but it really is a choice. What do you want for your business? Do you have a twenty year plan like my client? Great! Now do you have a 1 week plan, a 1 month plan and a 3 month plan? The key idea is that you don’t have to do everything all at once. When you are fully committed, you have each day with specific goals that fulfill a priority. Each short term plan fits into the overall long term strategic plan.
For example, do you have an outstanding proposal to complete and send to a prospect? Give it a priority level. For my clients, we often have conversations about which projects will bring money in the short term or the long term. Where does this proposal fit in? Identify what needs to be completed and how much time each of these items need. This makes it easier to schedule when you work on something.
Are you the chicken or the pig? Hesitating makes sense. There is a lot you are responsible for. However, instead of getting stuck in place, use the time to plan. Your level of commitment will determine how much action you take.
How committed are you?