Focus on your own business. I think we all need that tattooed somewhere on our body. I have the rare opportunity to work with and observe over 100 small businesses as part of my Main Street position. It is a passion and a real love of the entrepreneurial spirit that I bring to this work and any criticism is just observation without being deep in the trenches like they are day in and day out. There is one phenomena that I can’t stop thinking about, and one that I suffer from too, and it peeking my head out from the work that I am doing to see how the competition is doing, see where I am in the scheme of things, and focus on something other than the work I have to do. This can happen because things are going great in my world and I (sometimes stupidly) think I can stick my head up and fix something out there or things are boring or hard in my world and I want a relief (most often it is this).
I see other business people doing this, too. In fact, all the time and what I want to shout at them (and at me) is go focus on your own business. There is so much to do in our own work that there really isn’t time to go poke our heads up and comment, complain or stir up things outside of it. Really. Are your ducks ever completely in a row? My to do list never shortens and the work never ends (not complaining, I love it), but every once in a while it just gets too tough to keep focused on it so I think about all the things “out there” that are wrong. What a total and complete waste of my time.
When you are focused on someone else instead of your own business you will never win the race.
The trick is that we can’t be at 100% all of the time. It’s not possible. We are in it for the marathon – not the sprint. Knowing that we have to find constructive things that we can focus our attention on when we are a bit burned out on our own business. We can’t get caught in the trap of complaining on Facebook, stirring up stuff in other people’s business because of our own boredom, getting lost and forgetting that we need to do our own work… so what can we do when the inevitable urge to glance over at something or someone else comes over us?
8 Tips to Staying Focused on Your Business
- Create an Amazing List of Things That Need To Be Done – this magic list is ongoing and can be added to whenever you have something you think of that needs/could be done, but isn’t urgent. When you start to feel unfocused pull it out and tackle one of those projects.
- Make a To Do List – Every. Single. Day. If you have a to do list you can’t get unfocused. You won’t lose hours wondering where you were (on Facebook) because you have shit to do.
- Get Accountable – Find a buddy that you meet with either online, in person, or on the phone with once a week that you tell you big goal for the week (one thing) and every week you report back on progress.
- Make Yourself Pay – are you getting lost a lot? Every time you see yourself wasting time online put a dollar in the jar. When you start meddling, gossiping, calling a friend so you don’t have to do your actual work – put a dollar in the jar. Just like a curse jar once you see actual dollars on your desk you might realize that time equals money and you are wasting it. Up this by giving that money to a charity you DO NOT support. That alone will help you get focused.
- Have real work hours. One of the issues I see is that entrepreneurs don’t have real hours. Even if they have a brick and mortar business that closes at a certain time they often bring that work home with them. It might be cool for you, for a while to work 18 hour days, but that isn’t sustainable over the long haul. Start having real hours and devote your time off to your real life. (You know, work life balance!)
- Remind yourself they aren’t better or have some magic you don’t have. This is a biggie for entrepreneurs. It’s so easy to start focusing on your competition that you forget to run your own race. I’ve seen amazingly, crazy shit in my work. People focused on what the business around them puts out in their trash, the hours that they keep, the number of deliveries they get… all focused outward. There is no time to focus outward when you are running your own business. You can SCHEDULE actual time in your business to do competition analysis. Other than that… stay focused on what YOU are dong.
- Set your timer. Set your phone timer to go off every single hour and check yourself where you are and what you are doing. Are you working on your business or are you obsessed by some comment someone wrote on Facebook? Get back to work.
- Pay Yourself for Being Focused. This doesn’t have to be some huge amount of money. In fact, it can be a buck. If you plan to work an 8 hour day (because you scheduled your work) you give yourself $1 for every hour you work. At the end of the day you should have enough to get coffee in the morning. If you come up short you can figure out where you are missing time.
Dude. The distractions are real. The feeling that the competition is creeping up ahead of you can feel terrifying. Maybe you aren’t doing so great and the distraction of worrying what other people are doing seems like real work, but you know, in your heart, it isn’t.
I want you to consider that every Facebook comment, gossip session with your neighbor, complaint to your coworkers – have they ever amounted to you getting more business or doing better work.
I’m not Sherlock Holmes, but I’m guessing no.
You need to get back into you and your business every single day. This an be hard to maintain, but what you have to bring the world is your own secret sauce. We need it. We don’t nee you distracted by the guy next to you. Get totally into your work and let’s see what amazing things you accomplish.