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Business is often made out to seem over complicated.
We are constantly being bombarded with new strategies to try out, new social networks to focus on, and new trends that we just ‘have to’ jump on quickly.
We’re made to believe that if we don’t move quickly, then we’ll miss out. That if we just try out this one new thing, or find that one special secret, we’ll instantly become successful in our entrepreneurial endeavors.
We develop complex plans in our minds with a lot of moving pieces, and expect everything to go perfectly.
Of course, it rarely does.
The fact of the matter is, you likely already know nearly everything you need to grow your business to massive levels – it’s just a matter of executing on that information.
Let this article serve as a guide to help you filter out the noise – to analyze what’s actually important for you to focus on, and develop a simple strategy that you can actually work with – guaranteed to bring you consistent results over time.
1. Identify Your True Goals, And Push Vanity Metrics Aside
It’s critical that you identify in a strict matter what it actually is that you’re hoping to attain from your business.
In most cases, this is revenue. This means that unless vanity metrics such as page views or Instagram likes can be tied directly with making more money, focusing your time and energy on improving these metrics is a waste.
However, money doesn’t always need to be the primary goal, and can go hand-in-hand with something else too.
After all, if you were truly after money-at-all-costs, you probably wouldn’t be doing something as risky as running a business.
You’d be working a comfortable job at best, or committing crimes at worst – if money were the only thing that mattered to you.
Again, most of us have more than just one true goal when it comes to our business, and money is only one of them. What’s also important is that we identify specifically what those goals are.
Some examples of other primary or secondary goals may include…
- Doing work that aligns with some noble purpose – helping people, making a difference in your community, solving genuine problems, etc.
- Wanting fame or notoriety in your space (nothing wrong with that!)
- Building a safety net that you can fall back on.
- Making friends and connections in your niche.
- Drawing attention to another cause.
In my case, the primary goal of my site here was to build a safety net I could rely on for the rest of my life – knowing that regardless of what happened to my other companies, I could use my personal brand to continue to prosper.
My ultimate goal is to be able to spend as much time with my family as possible when it comes time for me to have children, and I’m terrified of the idea of having to leave each day to go work a ‘traditional job’.
Because I know exactly what my goal is, I know exactly what steps I need to take, and how to measure my progress.
My entire business here is built off of long-term, slow but steady growth of consistent revenue streams. Doing what’s right to build long-term connections and fans, that will be happy to work with me not only now, but for both of our lifetimes. I am not interested in business models that generate quick bursts of cash, like one-time events or limited time offers.
I am interested in building long-term safety by helping as many people as possible, as best as I possibly can – which is made easy because I gain a lot of personal fulfillment from it in the mean time.
Knowing exactly what my priorities are has allowed me to eliminate ideas that do not fit my long-term values. I strongly encourage you to do the same.
If your goal is fame in your niche, focus more on social media, getting featured on blogs and podcasts, and building social proof. If your goal is connections, develop a solid networking strategy and work at it every day. If your goal is to live out a purpose or cause, participate more in it, even if it means you have to say no to potential money making opportunities.
Remember, you started a business because you wanted to derive happiness from it in some way – be it fulfillment, freedom, or something else entirely. You are not doing it only because you want the money.
2. Discover What Actually Moves The Needle
Next, it’s time to discover what exactly moves the needle towards that goal – the specific actions you take that move you closer.
Entrepreneurs spend far too much time doing things that ultimately do not benefit them in any meaningful way. At the same time, they may find something that works, but not repeat it a 2nd time.
It’s quite baffling!
If you’ve been wondering how to simplify your business strategy, this alone can work wonders.
Most actions you take to grow your business should be measured.
Measure your investment in the event – whether it be time or money.
Then measure the result.
By doing this, you’ll know exactly whether or not this action is worth it.
Analyzing A Concrete Example – Commenting On Instagram Posts For The Sake Of Followers
I recently ran a test to discover how to get more Instagram followers, as this was a goal I had for my business recently.
One way I knew this was possible was to leave genuine, valuable comments on other people’s posts.
I discovered that I earned roughly 1 follower that stuck (meaning they didn’t follow and unfollow later) for roughly every 4 comments that I left, and that I could leave about 120 comments per hour.
Therefore, my cost per 1 follower was roughly 2 minutes of my time.
If you tried this, it would be important for you then to take 3 other factors into account:
- The value of an Instagram follower, on average.
- The value of your time.
- Whether or not followers could be gained in a cheaper manner (such as Instagram ads.)
If your time was valued at $10 / hr, each Instagram follower would have to be valued at 33 cents for this commenting strategy to be profitable. If you value your time at $100 / hr, each follower would have to be worth at least $3.33 at these numbers.
Of course, this was only one example. It can take some time to calculate all the numbers, but businesses run on math. You need to be sure that you’re spending your time in a profitable manner – and eliminate things that do not move you closer to your goals.
Bonus Tip: Certain tasks can be outsourced to a virtual assistant, for as little as $2 an hour. In the above example, this would only require a follower to be worth 6.6 cents to be profitable – if I were willing to let others comment as myself. Keep this in mind for tasks that can be outsourced!
3. Ignore Distractions
Distractions are the bane of every entrepreneur’s work day.
Again, you likely already know what you need to do. If you’ve achieved any success at all, there’s something you’ve done that’s worth repeating.
Focus on this one thing, and do it over and over again – as often as you can.
As humans we are constantly looking for shortcuts and secrets, and shady marketers do a great job acting like there’s simply something we don’t know.
So, we spend time and money buying into their programs, only to discover that we didn’t really learn that much from it – in fact, these programs often do nothing more than motivate and inspire us to carry out what we already knew before we bought it!
At worst, they may cause us to question what we believe to be true. We may have a legitimate strategy in mind, but the course may convince us that its method is the only way to succeed. Now, we’re even worse off than before, because we don’t know what to do or what to believe.
This is why conflicting sources of information are best avoided.
Instead, spend that time putting proven strategies to use. Business is not meant to be glamorous all of the time. It’s the tediousness of it all that prevents so many people from succeeding. Those that are willing to stick with it are the ones that ultimately reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
That being said, I would never tell you that you shouldn’t optimize. There may be better ways to do things that you simply don’t know about. That’s fine, and it’s always worth exploring additional options – jumping on new social networks, trying out a new strategy, experimenting with your processes, and so on.
Just don’t spend more time ‘trying things out’ than actually putting your knowledge to use.
Learning is important, but learning on its own isn’t particularly valuable. Knowledge is only power when it is put to use.
When you know what you need to be doing, it’s just a matter of doing it – over, and over, and over again, getting better along the way.
4. Develop A Routine
By this point, things should be looking pretty good. You have a pretty good idea of what you should be doing each day, and you can tie your actions to measurable results.
Now, it’s time to streamline your business processes, and develop a routine that ensures you work through each action quickly and productively.
Routines are wonderful because they minimize the downtime between tasks. You can very quickly and very easily move on to the next thing, without having to spend too much time or energy actually thinking about it.
As the habits develop, they quickly become second-nature, and you find yourself becoming better, quicker and faster without even trying. It truly is the way to make the most out of each day.
Personally, I manage all of this with an app called Todoist. You can check out my Todoist review by clicking here.
Using this app, I am able to set recurring reminders for everything that I need to get done. Each day, I open the app, and I instantly have work tasks ready for me.
I can also write down ideas and tie them to specific projects, whenever I have extra time to work on something. Finally, I can preview other tasks that will be due soon.
No need to think about it, or spend time planning.
For example, I could tell the app that I need to…
- Approve and respond to comments left on my blog every day.
- Pay my Philippines team every Friday at 5 PM.
- Pay office rent on the 1st of every month.
As you can imagine, every day the note about leaving blog comments comes up. Each Friday, I get a reminder to pay people – which becomes ‘overdue’ after 5 PM. On the 1st, I’m reminded to pay rent.
As you can see, this app is pretty powerful!
The point is this – you build out a routine and start forming habits every single day, and maximizing productivity becomes simple.
In my success mindset course, we discuss both habits and productivity in detail – studying data from both the world’s top entrepreneurs, as well as millions of workers from around the world.
We learned that for a normal 9 to 5 workday, productivity peaks at 11 AM, and gets pretty closer again after lunch. This means that work requiring a lot of critical thinking may be best suited for this time.
Additionally, in the course we look over the benefits of getting the harder things out of the way early on. In short, this frees up mental energy from not having to worry or dread about these tasks throughout the day, and also instills self-confidence you carry with you throughout the other tasks. This is also worth keeping in mind when developing your routine.
For more information about powerful habit formation and building a mindset for success, click here to check out my course on the topic!
Bonus tip: Many recurring tasks could be passed off to a virtual assistant, further freeing up time to focus on other important things!
5. Show Up Consistently
Last but not least, you’ve got to show up and carry out your work – consistently, and without fail.
Even if you love what you do, there will be times when you don’t want to do it.
The difference between those that end up succeeding and those that don’t is simple – the people that succeed push through, and show up to work even when they do not want to.
They say the days you don’t want to do something, are the days you actually need to do it the most.
These are the days that build your mental discipline, the days that make you stronger, more difficult to defeat.
They push your boundaries and force you to take control over your mind.
They make you harder to stop.
Ultimately, this is what ends up making all of the difference. When you know exactly what you need to be doing and you’ve optimized your routine, it’s just a matter of continuing to carry it out.
The results will grow with time.
I hope that this article has given you some ideas on how you can simplify your business going forward.
I truly believe that if you carry out these 5 steps, you put yourself in a position for consistent, steady growth.
You’ll focus your time on work that drives results, and eliminate tasks that do not. As you carry out your work, you’ll find ways to improve and optimize, further accelerating how quickly you’re able to grow.
I’d love to hear how you plan to simplify your business going forward, and the steps you’re taking to work towards your next goal.
As always, if there’s anything that I can help with, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
To your success,
– James McAllister
Review the main points of this article in the SlideShare below. Feel free to embed this on your site, use it in your organization, and share it with others! All I ask is that you give credit! (Download links are available from SlideShare’s website, which you can access by clicking the LinkedIn icon)
It sounds simple to “simplify” your business.
But it often means you need to really know how to determine the value of your time, and be able to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
I like your Instagram example because it reminds us, as you say, that business is built on numbers.
That’s the simple truth, but if you are not taking time to analyze the numbers, you can really complicate your business to the point of making it unmanageable.
Donna Merrill recently posted…How to give your blog a fresh new start
Hi Donna, you’re absolutely right!
One of the major problems is that people don’t measure enough when it comes to their business processes. It’s important that you’re tracking both your input, as well as the output that it’s generating.
When it comes to things like ads or other paid marketing channels, most people are really good at this. When it comes to measuring time, and affixing a value to it – not so much.
Of course, not everything we do will have a clear and measurable outcome, but we should still try to track it as much as we can. You make some great points and I appreciate you sharing them here!
James McAllister recently posted…Don’t Become A ‘Blogger’ – Build A Personal Brand
What a fabulous post James,
I read a lot of blog posts and I have never heard of a topic like this. I LOVE this topic you made about the bloggers using social media for the wrong reasons. Very ingenious.
Heading off to tweet this post.
Hey James, glad to hear that you liked this post and I appreciate you sharing!
James McAllister recently posted…7 Branding Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Company