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One of the biggest challenges that business owners often face when in business for themselves is how to become and remain profitable. Solopreneurs, especially, have issues with this whole idea of profitability. We tend to be hard workers with a passion for what we do and want to deliver an excellent product to our clients.

When instead of working on their businesses (i.e., its purpose, direction, strategy, structure, systems, people, goals, and accountability processes), most solopreneurs are trapped working in their businesses, slaving away and grinding it out. They focus their efforts on things that help them to “stay busy” without focusing on doing things specific to generating “business,” the smart choices, the income producing activities that will help grow your business. As a result, they end up majoring in minor things.

What is the difference between Business and Busy-ness?

Business = commerce, the activity of buying and/or selling something to make a profit.

Busy-ness = the state of being busy with many things (tasks) to do.  Busy-ness keeps us from performing income producing activities (IPA).

Most small business owners confuse activity with accomplishment. They confuse “busy-ness” with results, hard work with smart work and perspiration with purpose. Instead of working on the “business” side of things, many small business owners amass a bunch of tasks that merely keep them busy under the misconception that working harder is the solution to becoming profitable. The more the business grows, the harder they work, and the more imprisoned they become. Rather than building a business that can virtually run on its own, they heap for themselves a list of things to do. They unconsciously cage themselves in a job that they call a business!

Here are a few ways to avoid busy-ness and refocus on business:

  • Make a list of what are the effective activities you need to focus on and spend your time being efficient in those areas.
  • Make a list of all the ineffective activities you find yourself doing throughout the day, like web browsing for example, and eliminate those activities or outsource them for dirt cheap
  • Stop! Take a day and truly analyze yourself and what you do throughout the day then get organized by getting your priorities in order
  • Write down some long-term goals for your business and  break them down into smaller goals
  • Analyze yourself and your time each week to evaluate your productivity business and marketing plans
  • Systematize your company by creating, documenting and continually improving all your key processes, procedures and policies.
  • Step back from it all and just enjoy what you’ve created!

The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto Principle is what we know as the 80/20 rule, which basically implies that 80% of input comes from 20% of the output. As a business owner, the principle suggests that the bulk of your daily activity, in terms of time, is trivial and that only a small amount of your time and daily activities actually contribute to your wallet. The principle allows us as business owners to look at the work we do on a daily basis and literally cut out the wastage. It allows us to focus on what we are doing that gets results, and to note the “busy-ness” that is keeping us from being productive in any way.

Apply the 80/20 principle to  your business or your line of work by asking yourself the following questions:

Which 20% of my sources or activities are causing 80% of my problems?

Which 20% of my sources and activities are bringing me 80% of my desired results and happiness?

-Which 20% of my network is producing 80% of my referrals?

 Get serious!

If you want your business to succeed, it’s time to make it happen! Become more purposeful in managing your time and focusing on the income producing activities that contribute to that 80%. Eliminate the “busy work” and create a realistic action plan for achieving your business development goals. Your business should have systems in place for measuring and controlling certain activities that contribute to your strategic goals.

Need more help? Get a follow-through partner to hold you accountable. Hire a business advisor or growth coach to encourage you along the way. Figure out the support you need to ensure that you build a network to support you in all of your “business” goals.

Okay. You’ve spent enough time reading this blog. Time to get back to work! (smile)

“Measuring busy-ness is far easier than measuring business. Busy-ness might feel good (like checking your email on Christmas weekend) but business means producing things of actual value. Often, the two are completely unrelated. What if you spent a day totally unbusy, and instead confronted the fear-filled tasks you’ve been putting off that will actually produce value once shipped?”

-Seth Godin, Entrepreneur, author and public speaker