A lot of people jump into business after reading “The 4-Hour Workweek” and assume that it’s all going to be roses and butterflies; sipping umbrella drinks while lounging around on the beach (or riding a horse?) while your money rolls in. Of course, if you actually read the book (shocker!) you’ll find that there is actually some work to be done.
The book itself is great and has tons of lessons. The problem is that this “business is easy” myth is perpetuated by the unfortunate spread of online scams like the Empower Network (yes, I’ve been on an Empower Network hating streak lately).
Let’s get something straight: business is not easy.
It can be simple. And we often tend to over-complicate things. But it sure as hell isn’t easy.
There can be a whole series of books about issues that businesses face, but this is a blog post…so I’m only going to talk about one:
Unlike what some people may have you believe, business success requires work. You have to be productive.
There are is no magic software or app. There are no magic networks. There is no magic pill.
Sure, there are tools that will help. But in the end it’s up to you. So how do you improve business productivity?
This is the biggest issue that business owners face because if you’re not going to do what needs to be done yourself, you better make sure that someone does.
That leaves a lot of people in the “I have to do everything myself” camp. That can be overwhelming, to say the least. And when you have so much on your plate, it’s easy to not do anything at all.
This is a topic that has been covered plenty in this past. But I don’t think it can be talked about enough because this can truly make or break your business.
So how do you improve your business productivity?
Before we get started (no pun intended) check out this video made in partnership between ASAPScience and Gregory Ciotti of Sparring Mind
There are certainly many takeaways from this video. But the biggest one for me is to just get started.
As it turns out, you can trick your brain into being productive just by starting to do something.
Once I sit down and get started on something I can sit there all day and work on it until it gets done. It’s usually the getting started that’s the problem. So having watched that video, it makes me feel good to know I’m normal :).
But how do you figure out what to work on?
Create a “Workable” To-Do List
In general, people are terrible with to-do lists because most to-do lists are terrible.
Most to-do lists are overwhelming and intimidating. They inhibit productivity rather than aiding it. So creating an actual, useful to-do list is a skill all on its own.
So how do you create a to-do list that’s useful?
Here are three different approaches:
Simple Prioritization Approach:
Sean Malarkey runs a very successful information product business. To say he gets a lot done would be an understatement. How? By using a very simple method of prioritizing tasks. He explains it in his own words here:
Cost-Value Prioritization Approach:
I wrote this post a while ago. It describes how you can prioritize tasks, but it takes into account both the investment (time, effort, money) in the task and the predicted outcome in terms of business results.
Using those to factors you can prioritize your tasks to get the biggest results out of the least amount of investment:
Another guy that gets a ton done in his business is Steve Scott. He not only has a six-figure affiliate marketing business and a popular blog, but he has also recently taken up Kindle publishing with quite a bit of success.
Steve breaks down his tasks in terms of weekly tasks and monthly tasks. He also breaks down this tasks in terms of project-based and routine.
And, in true lifestyle-business form, Steve includes personal tasks on his to-do list (because let’s face it, you still have a life to live outside of your business…sort of).
Get Some (Inexpensive) Help…
So after all that it might come as a surprise to you when I tell you that the “4-Hour Work Week” lifestyle isn’t necessarily a myth.
Tasks do have to be completed. But it doesn’t mean that you are the one that has to be completing them.
Outsourcing can save you a lot of time on the technical, methodical and sometimes downright exhausting everyday tasks of running a business.
For example, Lewis Howes (Sean’s Malarkey’s business partner) has openly admitted that he doesn’t necessarily write all of the posts that he “writes” around the internet.
On top of time-savings, outsourcing your work can be ridiculously cheap while avoiding the legal and tax ramifications of bringing on a full-time employee (we just passed tax day so you know how fun those laws are).
The key is to hire the right person and train them to do the right thing.
You can find people to work on a project-by-project basis on sites like Odesk and Elance. But if you want to hire someone full-time that will actually care about the direction of your business as a whole, there is a better option.
Check out Replace Myself, where you can get access to training and best practices for outsourcing. I believe that when you join you also get free access to the biggest network for cheap, educated outsourced workers (people that can help propel your business forward).
The Real Demon (Fail Quickly)
I think the importance of getting things done is pretty clear. But don’t underestimate the importance of getting things done quickly.
Entrepreneurs are often idea people. The best way to see if an idea is a viable one is to put it into action.
The problem is that the fear of failure often holds people back. But failure is not a bad thing. It just means you move onto the next idea.
There is actually somewhat of a correlation between how fast you put things into action, and the likelihood of running a successful business.
So don’t fear failure. Embrace it.
Now go fail at something…
This post is part of the awesome Word Carnival. Read more posts on this month’s theme: Vanquish Your Nemesis: A Guide to Conquering Small Biz EvilsBusiness Productivity: The Business Demon Lurking Over Your Shoulder by Eugene Farber