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Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

A Simple Business Toolbox Part 2: Team, Time & Money

Last week we covered the marketing productivity tools that can fit into your most basic business toolbox – and I was really pleased to receive such positive feedback. It is always great to find out how business owners are gaining tangible benefit from these blogs.

In this part, we will help to demystify some further tools in a few other critical areas of business, which may help you lighten the load, or increase the result from the effort put in.

Let’s jump in with the area where almost every business owner of larger, successful businesses want to improve…

Team Management (or more, Leadership) Tools

If your business is growing to a size where systemisation and leverage are becoming important, you should ensure that your team have clear direction in where they should be headed, and what they are aiming for.

And there are two main areas of leadership where systems and tools can help. The first is task management.

As I’ve said before, you shouldn’t manage your team, you should manage their activities.

A system we use for task management is Asana. This is a reasonably ‘safe bet’ tool, coming from the minds of tech maestros who co-founded Facebook and were integral to the development of essential features of both Facebook and Google. It’s also free for what most businesses need (you would only need to start paying for it if you are an enterprise with significantly large teams of 15 or more).

The platform lets you create tasks for yourself or delegate tasks to one of your team members. You can create a full range of ‘tasks’ from simple reminders, to very detailed plans in complex ‘projects’. You will be notified when a task is complete or when a task is due. You can also comment on tasks – keeping communication all in one place for a project or campaign – and you can even give little heart ‘likes’ to tasks and comments to give small bursts of positive feedback. It has a very friendly interface and does not require spending lengthy amounts of time to get used to it, though as with any tool does require some getting used to at first. There is also a mobile app, allowing you to plan and respond to tasks on the go.

Another productivity app to consider is Trello. This one is more ‘board’ focused (although Asana does have a ‘boards’ feature as well) and is typically more useful to businesses that have a clearly delineated workflow – especially, we’ve noticed, IT services. If your project moves from stage to stage in your business really definitively, you may find Trello perfect for your needs.

The world of task management systems is a pretty extensive one. You could quite literally spend weeks trying out different platforms – and I do not recommend doing that to any business owner. These are two that are tried and tested to work well for many businesses. Of course, do your due diligence before diving in, but remember to keep yourself in check as it’s easy to get caught up in chasing ‘shiny things’.

Before we move on from task management, I should also mention that sometimes you don’t need one of these more complex dedicated task management tools. Sometimes, and this is true in my own team as well as many of our clients’ teams, quarterly planning on a simple Excel Spreadsheet is sufficient – and often preferable for its simplicity – to track weekly activities and get a quick, simple and clear communication of the plans for the quarter. Task management systems can be great for day-to-day task lists, but strategic planning can often be much simpler.

The second area where you can get leverage in leading and managing your team is in communication. And while this isn’t a software solution, I think it’s an important productivity tool, so I’ve included it in this list.

What I’m talking about is the Monday Morning Meeting. Every Monday our team has a meeting with all team members where we cover our business goals and personal goals and a learning from the previous week. The team fills out the goals sheet every morning (you can get the word and PDF versions emailed to you by clicking here) and then we go through each person one and a time. We start by reviewing goals from the previous week and then talking about the goals for this week.

This is not only a great way to ensure that everyone on the team is aligned with each other’s work, but it is also a great way to get your team to focus on themselves. Meaning you aren’t the heavy hand taking control of them nor being a helicopter “got-a-minute” boss, but instead your team are periodically reminding themselves of what they need to do and what they have forgotten to do.

Adding personal goals has also proven to be a great way to ensure that your team understand each other on a personal level – creating a more pleasant and actually more efficient work environment. It also helps you know when to be sensitive with your team when you know what is happening in their personal lives – and allows you to support them in every way, which will encourage your superstars to stay with you.

Time Management

Another key area where I have noticed most business owners typically struggle is managing their time. Of course, this often comes hand-in-hand with team management – when you better structure the way you communicate with your team, the more time you leverage for yourself.

However, if you run a business where you need to book appointments (that could be anything from providing services in time slots to booking in client meetings, training sessions or complimentary ‘taste testers’) then there is some technology that could help.

The first appointment-booking app I want to mention, TimeTrade, I have actually talked about before – in some detail – although that article is perhaps a bit dated now. TimeTrade has since refreshed its brand and its technology. It has a pretty wide breadth of features and customisation – but that also comes with a bit a learning curve for you and your team. If you need a robust system with more advanced functions like queue management and more intensive analytics, then you should consider TimeTrade.

However, a simpler solution for automating your calendar, which we have used recently is Calendly.

Calendly integrates with most calendar platforms – including Google, Outlook, Office 365 and iCal. It is a great way to ensure you’re never double booked, and so that you don’t have to keep aligning calendars – it can be used both internally and externally.

A really great use for this is in sales – instead of having to constantly hand your off-site telesales teams time slots that they can book appointments in for your salespeople, they can all book directly through Calendly, which is synched up to the salesperson’s calendar. That way you can also have all your telesales people working with the same time slots, as it will be updated in real time.

A major flaw our team has noticed, however, is that there’s no calendar view for Calendly. You cannot have a weekly or monthly view of your appointments or appointment slots. You can only see your events in a list. This can be a bit frustrating and difficult to make it clear what’s going on. A workaround is to use it alongside your calendar so you can view the appointments as they’re booked in – not the most convenient thing, but it works.

Calendly is free for the basic plan – so you can test whether it’s a match for you before paying.

TimeTrade has a 30-day free trial and then you can choose one of their custom plans. It is usually my recommendation that if you do need appointment booking software, that you start with Calendly – it’s easy to set up and get started. If you then feel like your needs are more complex than Calendly can handle, then you can look to switch to Time Trade.

Money Management

Finally, one of the most important areas that must be working totally correctly but would benefit from getting leverage is finances.

Invoicing can be such a headache, but we use Xero and it’s made the whole process a lot less painful. Xero can help you keep track of your inventory, payroll and invoicing in a visual way. You can also perform bank reconciliations – so you can connect to your bank for automatic updates and simple bank reconciliation.

The site has an intuitive dashboard where your cash flow is displayed using analytics-style visual aids. You can also use Xero to pay your bills and record, manage, and claim your expenses.

Xero is also available on your mobile if you’re the kind of tech-savvy business owner who likes manage things on-the-go!

It has a 30-day trial to see if it works for you, and then membership plans start from £10/month. It should be noted there are additional costs for things like extra employees on the payroll.

Another accounting software of note for your bookkeeping needs is FreeAgent. In most respects, FreeAgent and Xero are equally matched in facility and function. However, where FreeAgent falls down is in detailed reporting and more advanced functionality. Where it excels, however, is simplicity and essential functions for freelancers/contractors. If you are a growing or bigger business, Xero is probably a better option, but if you require something that’s simple and easier to use FreeAgent is probably a better choice – especially at the generally lower price point.  QuickBooks is another option to consider as well which has different tiers of complexity according to your needs.

As with the marketing tools from the first article, these software options don’t cover everything you need for every area of your business. They also may not be the perfect solution for your individual niche needs. However, these are almost certainly the best place to start and will hopefully help lead you to the tools that will streamline your activities and get you the double-digit growth that you may be leaving on the table.

Want to learn more tools and frameworks?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionWe have over 357 strategies – at our bespoke session we will learn about your business and help you discover strategies that will be suitable to help you get the leverage you need at the stage you’re at.

It’s entirely complimentary, and if ongoing coaching won’t be useful to you, then we will be the first to tell you to walk away.

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A Simple Business Toolbox Part 1: Power Up Marketing

Have you ever realised you need a tool to do some DIY and get to the hardware store only to realise that there were way more ‘kinds’ of that tool than you thought? “I need an uh… wrench?” was said as the DIY newbie stands before a 2-storey high wall of wrenches of all shapes and sizes.

Unfortunately, in business software, it can be a similar situation. The key to almost any business scaling strategy is to cultivate a focus on leverage. And we live in a world where the software and technology to get this leverage is constantly being developed.

However, most business owners are far too busy to experiment with the various productivity tools. Instead of getting leverage, they get bogged down in emerging technologies they don’t fully understand – and this can hamper rather than help their business. So, we just continue doing things the way we have always done it – because we know that works. But that also leads to stagnation.

If you are looking to scale up, then it may be necessary to get comfortable with some new technology. In an effort to help narrow the options, we have put together a collection of tools that we and/or our clients use to get leverage in various areas of business.

This week, we will explore one the main areas most of our clients need technology to help them: digital marketing.

Stay tuned for next week, where we cover productivity tools to help with time management, team leadership and finances.

As with any recommendation we make to our clients, we still do suggest you do some due diligence to find out whether the tool is useful for your business.

You can use this article as a place to start if you are looking to streamline your business activity and then, as with everything, test and measure.

Email Marketing Tools

We use Ontraport as our main emailing software. The interface can get a bit of getting used to, but it allows us to achieve high-level automation for our email marketing funnels, product dispensing, and lead generation.

Note that often this high level of automation is often not required for businesses that are seeking immediate scale – it is usually a more long-term / advanced strategy for growth.

Ontraport allows you to use a series of customisable rules and sequences to categorise your email list into specific categories. You can use this to segment your audience (just be cautious – sometimes people can end up in the wrong list when it gets too convoluted!)

There are a number of other highly customisable options in Ontraport that let you get very specific in tracking, segmenting, and contacting your database.

The cheapest membership plan with Ontraport will cost you USD79 (~£60 GBP) per month, but this only lets you host up to 1000 contacts. Most businesses, however, would probably need the “Pro” level at USD297 (~£215) per month to make real use of Ontraport.

If your company is more starting out with email marketing, and Ontraport seems a bit intimidating, then an option many of our clients make use of is MailChimp. MailChimp is much easier to set up and use – with a much more intuitive interface – compared to Ontraport. This is probably a better place to start than Ontraport – don’t worry, you can always export your database to another emailing software in the future.

While MailChimp doesn’t have the level of sophistication that Ontraport has, it still has automation features that will let you automate a significant amount of your email marketing, lead generation activities and even many of your advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

Even better, you can start using MailChimp for free – which makes it perfect for the business owner that’s a little uncertain about how much they will actually understand a system like this. Try it out and then once you are growing, you can start paying to access the advanced tools and greater size of your database, as required.

Other email software that we don’t have direct experience with ourselves, but which we would recommend you consider when making a decision on mailing software would be Infusionsoft and Hubspot.

Infusionsoft is a very similar application to Ontraport, with a slightly higher price point (though it does have a stepped pricing structure, so your expanding database doesn’t instantly cost you a lot more).

HubSpot is a whole different beast, with a suite of “hubs” that serve different purposes. You could, potentially, use HubSpot as your unified system for sales and marketing with some very specific and complex tools that could really be powerful – if you have the resources of people, time and money. While all HubSpot software comes with a “free” version (which is great, as you can then try it out and see if the design is a good fit) if your systems become entrenched in HubSpot, the prices rise steeply if and when you need further features. That said, you get what you pay for, and HubSpot has been hailed as one of the leaders in the marketing automation world.

Social Media Automation

Social media automation has its pros and cons.

On the upside, automating the social media process will streamline your posting, allowing you time for different activities.

The downside of social media automation is you run the risk of sounding robotic and not actually engaging with your audience. If someone’s interested in what you have to offer and writes you a short tweet asking you for more details, that may well be an opportunity missed.

So complete automation of social media may, indeed, be a pipe dream. But the main thing you need to consider is, for your business, how important is it that you (or your employees) commit time to running, maintaining and engaging on social media? How much of your audience is actually on social media? Using numbers to understand this will be the best way to decide what level of automation you need for your business.

For those businesses who need to have a social media presence (really, all businesses should have a social media presence at least!) but don’t want to commit to spending hours trawling social media because the return isn’t high enough, there are ways to simplify, streamline and accelerate your social media using automation techniques.

One of the first tools we recommend is Buffer.

Buffer is a scheduling application that lets you put posts in a ‘queue’. You can then select the date and time that you’d like posts to go out each week – so you can just write posts and put them into the queue without having to actively schedule each and every post.

The limitation in buffer comes with the number of posts you can put in the queue. The free version of buffer only lets you put 10 posts per social media account – and limits you to one account per social media channel. This is great for most small businesses who only need the most basic automation and are willing to put in effort weekly or fortnightly.

However, if you want to reduce your effort in this respect down to monthly, you’ll probably need to start paying for the “Awesome” plan, which lets you schedule up to 200 posts on each account, and lets you add up to 12 accounts from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

The other automation tool we would recommend is Hootsuite. It gives a minimalistic design, and many of the features you find in Buffer. Additionally, if you require a custom solution in terms of Social Media Automation, Hootsuite is willing to have a chat with you a give you a personalised quote.

What makes Hootsuite a little more exciting is that it allows you to view “streams” of information – which could include people mentioning you, the list of your most recent posts, your feet etc. This lets you engage with your audience – and engagement isn’t something that buffer helps with at all.

However, with engagement ‘automation’ you can very quickly start pouring time into using the software – which defeats the whole purpose of getting leverage. If you are doing this, make sure you are testing and measuring carefully the time expenditure against the return to ensure it makes sense for the progress of your business.

A special mention for social media automation also goes out to Statusbrew and CoSchedule – while we have not fully interrogated the usefulness of these more advanced social media automation platforms, they do look good. If you are looking to do more advanced social media activity, then these are ones to explore for potential streamlining of your activity.

Website Content Management Systems

Ideally, you should have delegated someone to manage your website. Ideally, as well, this is an internal employee, allowing for quick pivots and changes rather than a lengthy process going through an external web manager (unless you are working with a particularly efficient marketing agency – do those exist? – or if you are working with a highly flexible one-man-band freelancer).

But even with management being outsourced to your employees or a third party, it’s important to ensure your website is utilising good software to ensure changes can be made swiftly, and your website operates at peak efficiency.

In today’s web world, you won’t need to build a website from scratch – there are plenty of out of the box solutions and Content Management Systems (CMS) that will let you build a good-looking, easily adjustable website quickly.

We use, one of the most popular (and free) website creation platforms out there (not to be confused with – which hosts your site and is more limited).

WordPress has such endless possibilities, due to its open-source nature, meaning you can download themes that work out of the box (we use Divi which works fantastically for us) or developers can also create their own themes to develop bespoke solutions.

Developers also create plugins – most of which are entirely free – to give you immediate solutions to all sorts of things your site may need. Whether you want a brochure website, blog, forum, shopping cart or social platform – WordPress can usually deliver it.

One of the major downsides of WordPress is the fact that your website speed can be dramatically affected. This is due to themes and plugins adding excess download time. This can significantly affect your user experience (and increase things like “bounce rate” – where people immediately leave your website because it takes too long to load – which will then affect your search engine rankings).

There are ways around this, but generally, a WordPress site (or any website built on a visual platform) will be slightly slower than a hard-coded website.

Another visual builder that you may want to consider is Wix and the lesser known Yell website builder. Both of these platforms are extremely simple with drag-and-drop interfaces, allowing you to create beautiful websites with minimal effort. We have clients who have used these platforms really successfully to create some great websites that they can, personally, edit without too much fuss.

The only thing to be cautious of when it comes to Wix and the Yell builder is that these are not open-source – so they don’t have the possibilities of doing highly customised websites. If you need something very unusual and bespoke, then you will need to opt for a WordPress or custom-created website.

Next Time…

While this blog doesn’t cover every single tool in the digital marketing arsenal, it’s some of the ones we and our clients use most earnestly.

Next week, I will move beyond the marketing sphere and cover some software that helps with managing your team, time, and finances.

Need help choosing technology?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionWith London Coaching Group, you gain access to a team of experts – in marketing, finance, team management, administration, sales etc. When we assess your business, we are able to give you a more dissected view of exactly which strategies, tools and software are likely to help your business.

Find out for yourself, through a no-obligation personal strategy session whether the way we approach things could be helping you get even more from your business.

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How To Get Your To-Do List Done

Almost anyone who has run a business will agree that one of the most difficult hurdles is managing the overwhelming quantity of work to be done. And with only 4% of businesses ever achieving more than £1 million turnover, and 0.4% achieving £10 million, it’s worth scrutinising how this and other factors are holding business owners back from running an even bigger business than they already do.

In my experience, having engaged with some of the brightest minds and most motivated business owners in the UK, I have some confidence is noting that one of the primary reasons for stunted business growth is a lack of time management, which generally has been the result of an inefficient delegation processes.

This, in turn, has usually arisen from business leaders not identifying more carefully exactly which tasks should be assigned out to their team, and which they should be doing themselves.

I’ve discussed the 4D framework for productivity before, but I want to share a slightly simpler version – one which lets you swap out your “to-do” list for something more successful.

Purpose and Priority

Let’s take a little look at this diagram:

What this little triangle is telling us is that you need to start with purpose. (Remember Start With Why? Similar concept.) Why are you actually trying to do these tasks? What is the reason you want these things done, and what is the ultimate driving force behind you spending time on any task at all?

Once you have purpose, you can move on to considering what your priorities are. Which things are most important to you and which things aren’t as critical? What order should you do them in?

With purpose and priority, you automatically start achieving productivity, and in business, that automatically results in profitability.

So the key is to tweak that to-do list to highlight the tasks with priority and purpose so you aren’t just blindly pouring out your effort into a massive to-do list and not getting an adequate return on that investment of effort.

3 Steps to Creating Your Success List

Step 1: Create Your To-Do List

The classic to-do list is an important starting point in this process. Do a total mind-dump of all the things you need to do.

What I usually advise to clients is to open a simple spreadsheet at the end of each day, and at the beginning of every week, and note down everything that needs to be done. This is your “to achieve” list.

The next two steps are what converts this “to achieve” list into a “success list” instead.

Step 2: The Priority Question

Ask yourself, “If I were only allowed to do three things today/this week, what would those be?”

With this question you begin to prioritise and start to separate out the “should do” and “have to do” tasks from the “could do” or “would like to do” tasks.

Step 3: The Leverage Question

This is the important step that gets true leverage from your list and transforms it fully into a success list. Ask yourself the question, “Are these the things that make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

While it is likely that sometimes your day will consist of fire-fighting and taking care of the ‘urgent’ tasks, if you have a success list built off this question, then you will automatically ensure your most important tasks – the ones that are giving you the greatest return – are front of mind.

A lot of people stop at step 1. The good workers stop at step 2. But the most successful people are constantly doing step 3.

Most people create a long and overwhelming laundry list of things to do, and then wonder why they feel so unproductive. Developing this success list will guide you away from the procrastination that comes from doing little, insignificant tasks and steers you into achieving the big tasks that take your business forward.

Need more productivity tools like this?

Providing the world’s leading business coaching services, we help business owners boost the productivity of their business through simple changes in the way they think – such as swapping a to-do list for a success list!

Book a place on our web event and find out the framework we’ve used over the past decade to help businesses achieve real double-digit growth.

How To Settle Unpaid Invoices In 4 Weeks

Many of the businesses I have worked with in the last 9 years business coaching in London, especially those in service industries, have come to me with a bank of uncollected invoices. Some of them have even had debtors owing them for work that was done months, sometimes years, ago.

Chasing up invoices is probably one of the most tiresome, time-consuming and immensely frustrating parts of running a business. And it’s almost definitely not what you got into business for, is it?

After months of unanswered phone calls, voicemail messages and emails, you might get to a point where you decide it’s easier to give up and write it off rather than persist. This leaves you out of pocket for work that you completed – this leaves you without money your business actually earned. Alternatively, you could keep chipping away and trying to contact the client, but if that is not systemised, it usually means you are wasting time and resources that could be used on more important matters. Clearly, this is not the most effective way of managing your team and makes the entire process more stressful than it needs to be.

So, with this in mind, here is a simple four-week plan that we give our clients to ensure that the process of following up on unpaid invoices is organised to decrease the number that drop off, and increase the cash being paid back to you, without any unnecessary wastage of resources.

Week one

An invoice that is one week late could be due to a genuine oversight by the client, so it is important to just give a gentle nudge at this stage. The majority of clients will appreciate the reminder and pay it immediately.

A friendly yet firm email is sufficient, informing the client that their payment is now overdue, and asking them to arrange payment as soon as possible.

Week two

It is fair to assume that, if the client was going to read your email, they would have done so within a week. If they have not paid at this stage, they have either not seen your email, or have decided to ignore it.

The best thing to do is call the client (this can be done by a junior member of staff, as it is not yet an urgent matter) and ask them why the invoice has not been paid. Offer to help them with any issues that they might be experiencing.

Week three

If the invoice has still not been paid after you have spoken to the client directly, then the issue should be passed to a senior member of staff. The client may be disputing the invoice, or might simply need a more forceful push to encourage them to pay the debt.

You should send the client another email advising them that the matter will be escalated if the invoice is not paid within a week and that they can get in touch if they have any issues.

Week four

A senior member of staff should call the client directly if the invoice has not been paid by week four, providing the client has not contacted you to discuss any payment difficulties.

Note: if they have contacted you, you might decide to offer the client an extended deadline, or set up some sort of payment plan.

The senior staff member should make it clear that the matter is now serious and that, if the invoice remains unpaid, legal action will be taken.

It is rare that after this stage, a client will not pay the invoice. If they still do not pay, then you are likely in the realm of having to decide whether legal action will be worth it at this stage or not.

However, implementing this simple four-week follow-up process, or investing in business consultancy services to help you introduce the system, will mean that your business can streamline its approach to unpaid invoices. When we have seen our clients introduce this system, it has invariably saved them time, money and stress.

If you are struggling with even figuring out who has lapsed in payments – or you have so many that you need to figure out who to prioritise – check out this video on following up with aged debtors, where I go into more detail about how to set your Terms of Trade, map out your debtors, set targets, and decide who to chase first.

Need more strategies like this in your business?

Business coaches are here to help point out strategies that will be useful specifically to your business – like this one for following up on invoices.

Book a free strategy session with us and find out whether our strategies could be the ones that take your business to the next level.

Why Delivering A Baby Can Help With Running A Business

I have heard some experts say that business is about making decisions. Sure, that is true in a sense, but what is more accurate is that running a business successfully is about making the right decisions.

And that is where we can relate it to delivering a baby…

Let me explain.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. As per hospital episode statistics 50% of UK births need intervention. What I want to share with you today is a very practical tool which not only helps deliver healthy babies but also helps you with delivering healthy business results.

Crucial Decisions

Now as you can imagine in the moments of crucial decision making when you have to decide which intervention to go for, it could be very tricky for parents when time is less, energy is less, and emotions are running high.

And keeping the business context on, when you have to make the crucial decisions for your business when the energy, time, money is not unlimited you need to be making the right decisions.

Now the model I want to talk about actually helps you place your intuition, your energy and your passion or your experience at the right time rather than clouding that decision.

The BRAIN Model for Making Decisions

So what I want you to do is actually write down this model and what is called the BRAIN model, so just write this down and we will go through it quickly, systemically but quickly.

Now let’s take a scenario in the business. Imagine you’re thinking of hiring someone for an important position, which might help you with the top-line growth, the revenue growth, now it’s an important one because there is an outlay and it will help us deliver the growth of the company.

So when you’re looking at this kind of a situation, you can make an intuitive call but it’s like flipping a coin and hoping it will be the right one or you could use this model to make sure it’s the right decision. So let’s go through this.

Decision Making Model Step 1: Benefits

The first thing that you need to look at is what are the Benefits of making this decision. And simply writing down the bullet points as to what are the benefits that you will have from hiring this person.

Decision Making Model Step 2: Risks

The second thing you need to look at in a very objective manner is saying what are the Risks of hiring this person. If this person is not successful, what will it mean in terms of the next 3 months of salary costs. And will there be any other disruption or organisation change? What are the possible risks?

Decision Making Model Step 3: Alternatives

Once you do that, this is the other question that people don’t ask very often and when I’m working with clients it’s actually having that divergent way of thinking. Looking at different possibilities and then coming up with the right solution.

So the 3rd one you actually want consider and ask yourself this question – what are the other Alternatives? What are the other options? Could you be rejigging the organisation? Could you actually outsource this? Or maybe someone else just needs to spend a little more time doing this and that will take care of the problem. So what are the alternatives that you could be looking at?

Decision Making Model Step 4: Intuition

And then once you have looked at these three elements that’s where the energy, that gut feel comes into the picture – your experience and what I call that here is intuition. What does your intuition say? What do you think?

Because now your logical mind has kicked in and now it’s all about thinking, “What do you think?” What does your gut say?

Decision Making Model Step 5: Nothing

And finally the last one, which is quite interesting, I personally find it very interesting. And I think business is not always about just moving on and doing lots of things. Sometimes not doing something, not focusing on something itself is a decision you are making in the business.

And what this stands for is Nothing. If you don’t do anything, then what would that mean? Is that the right thing to actually do? Just wait a little bit more and then a better solution will emerge.


So when you think about it, it’s all about going through the decisions, not in a slow manner, actually in a fast-paced manner. But doing things systematically so that you’re not missing out what you should not be missing out on. Because at the end of the day, business is about making decisions and making the right decisions for your business because that’s what reflects in its results.

Give Your Business A Check Up

Business Coaching London Business Health CheckWhen parents make decisions on what direction to take when there are complications at birth, they rely on the expertise and advice of their doctor – or doctors – to guide their decisions.

Why not take your business to the experts to give it a check-up and find out if some small changes could put it in better shape?

Book a Free Strategic Review

The 4Ds of Productivity

business coaching london productivity tool

When was the last time you made a significant improvement to your time management habits? If your task list is extremely long and interspersed with items that have never really been important to you, you may be able to dramatically improve your personal productivity with a few changes.

I want to share with you today a simple framework / productivity tool that I shared in one of my business coaching training webinars with my clients recently, which may help you when it comes to organising and managing your task list.

The first thing you do is make a list of all the things that you need to do. This is a moving list, because there may be a few things that you didn’t achieve so you move them to the next day or the next week because that is how life works. But the first step is to have a list of everything that needs doing.

The Default Diary Tasks

Before you go further in prioritising that list though, you must first identify the core, non-negotiable items. What is it on your list that absolutely must be done, otherwise the consequences will be truly dire?

These items you need to add to what we call your “default diary”. That means simply going into your calendar and putting in a recurring item that happens every week for those items to happen. This is something I do personally and it works. If you do not put that time into your calendar, and you just leave it on your list, the chances are much more likely that it will slip.

And I would then hope that you are being held accountable through either calendar reminders or through your team reminding you.

The 4Ds Framework

Once you remove the non-negotiable activities, you are left with the tasks that you choose to do. And that is an important decision you make, because when you choose to do something, you are also choosing not to do something else.

There is a school of thought where people think it is best to create a list and then just crack on with that list item by item until the whole list is done.

However, I believe that after you make a list you need to be extremely selective in what you do from that list. It is not about hard work and doing everything. It is about knowing where to strike and what to focus on.

But the question is, how do you choose what to do and what not to do? That is where the 4Ds framework comes in, and which I have brought up in many business coaching training sessions before.

This framework is based around 4 ways that you can categorise any task you do:

  • You can Do the task yourself.
  • You can Delegate the task to someone else.
  • You can Defer the task to another time
  • You can Dump the task altogether.

The way you should work through this framework – and the 3 questions you should ask yourself of any task on your list – should be from the bottom up.

Question 1: Can I Dump This?

This is the first thing you should ask yourself of any item because it is too easy to fill your list with unimportant and irrelevant items that make it very difficult to see your other tasks.

Can you strike this task off your list? Is it there just because you like making long laundry lists? You might realise that this task is not actually adding value to your business and not helping you move forwards towards the goals in your business plan, so it should be removed from your headspace.

Question 2: Can I Defer This?

If you really cannot strike the task off your list, then you need to ask yourself if this task needs to be done right away or not.

Is this something that can wait until next week, next month, or next quarter? Will it actually help move company run better or move faster if it was done now?

If this is just a nice thing to have that will not make a significant difference whether you do it sooner rather than later, then you can and should defer it.

Question 3: Can I Delegate This?

Ok, so you really need to do this task today or this week, then you need to move up to the next step and ask yourself can somebody else do this?

Can you delegate this to a business partner or to a team member? Will someone else do this better than you, or will it empower someone else in your team to take on a role of greater responsibility in the business?

Learning how to delegate effectively is a really important part of team management. If you are constantly thinking that it is better for you to do things yourself because it will be faster, then that is another problem altogether which may involve a broken team model. It is nearly impossible to achieve sustainable growth without a capable team supporting you.

You may then need to consider a better recruitment process and team management / leadership strategies.

Alright, Just Do It

If you have moved through these three questions, then you have arrived at the work that must be done now and must be done by you.

You then need to put aside the time in your diary for it, let it live and breathe and just get on with it.

But if you ask yourself those three questions first, you will find that your “Just Do It” list is not only a whole lot shorter, but is filled with things that are actually moving your business forward.

This is a system that I personally use myself before I add anything to my to-do list. I know the value of my time and it is important that I make sure I spend that time on activities that are moving my business forward. Simultaneously, I am constantly raising my team members up with greater responsibilities and our businesses are in a state of constant growth.

Have you started using this system in your business? What is the best productivity / time management approach you have used successfully? Know of any other great ways to gain control of your task list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Want to get more time mastery?

At the Multi Million Maker webinar, Shweta presents some of her best strategies for generating the kind of growth that is manageable and sustainable.

Reserve a spot at the next session and find out if business coaching could help take you and your business to the next level.

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