Do you ever feel like you are just rolling from one thing to the next?
Or perhaps you find yourself being interrupted by team members for lots of small clarifications about what direction they should take next?
Or maybe you’ve just realised that a whole 6 months has passed and you aren’t really sure what you’ve achieved...
To easily find your sense of purpose in the day-to-day of running your business, it really helps to know when the next check-in will be and to have a predictable rhythm to the running of your business.
A common perception is that meetings eat up valuable working time and achieve nothing, and that can definitely be true... if you aren’t smart about how you approach them. Be clear about what you want to get out of the session, what preparation is needed to make sure the time is used well and have a clear agenda, so you don’t get lost on the details of the day-to-day.
Here are some of the rituals that I think are essential to help your small business run like a well oiled machine:
Annual strategy session:
Have you set your strategy yet? It doesn’t matter if your time frame is 12 months or 5 years, it makes a BIG difference if you are all clear about what you are working towards. Plan the session for the same time each year and prioritise it. If you are unsure about how to go about it, book an external facilitator to help you make the most of your time. Outcomes from your strategy session should include defining the top priorities for your business and how you are going to achieve them. You can always work out the measures at a later date, so long as you have some clear goals.
Quarterly/regular strategy check-ins:
Are you making progress against all the important initiatives that will help you achieve your strategy? What have been the obstacles and the challenges, what is working well, what timeframes need to be adjusted, what has been completed that you can celebrate? These don’t have to be quarterly, but they do need to be regular. If you work in a fast changing market, that might be too long between check-ins.
Weekly or monthly check-ins:
With you and your leadership team (if you have one). This is about corrections, updates, blockers and wins. Again, the frequency depends on the external influencers of your market and how quickly or slowly things are being progressed. Don’t waste time talking about things that can can be resolved in the normal course of business.
There are lots of other ways to to help your business find a rhythm. After all, rhythm is all about a pattern… like one of those clapping games my daughters play at school, the more you practice them the better you get. What’s yours? Perhaps you have a rhythm to your day and some important rituals that help you get things done and make the most of your precious time. I know lots of people who set aside times and days of the week for certain tasks. Perhaps there is a work social event on a regular basis that allows everyone to come together in an informal way and enjoy each other’s company outside of the pressures of the daily grind. Maybe you have more formal processes in place, with all of the above, and other elements like cascading team meetings or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you measure against regularly.
There are definitely those of us who don’t like structure and would rather ‘keep things loose’… perhaps to be better able to respond quickly to the curve balls that come up in the course of running a business. After all (I hear you say) isn’t it better to be flexible and not have too much structure in place so we can deal with them? It is true, you might take a few days or weeks to address a crisis, and it might sound counter-intuitive, but I strongly believe that the better rhythm you have in your business, the better you are at coping with the unexpected. You and the team will all be clear on the strategic intent, you’ll have regular avenues to communicate about what is happening and whether you are back on track or not. It can be a long way back from a trip down a rabbit hole… just ask Alice!
For my husband and I, who both run a small business from home, it is our strategy development sessions, regular strategy check-ins and the monthly conversation about cash-flow, clients and prospects that keeps us on track… or at least aware that we are off track once in a while and we can do something about it! I encourage you to take a look at the rhythm of your business and ask yourself, are there regular check-ins and touch points for keeping on track with the strategic aspects of the business…
What are the things that are the most important part of the rhythm of your business? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.