If you want to see the power of small things and what they can achieve in the long run you only have to visit a glacier, go to the beach, go into a cave, or go on holiday leaving a dripping tap behind.
A glacier that moves on average 10 inches a day will rip a path through a mountain over centuries. The surf will erode land over centuries one wave at a time. Dripping water falling inside caves will create stalagmites and stalactites over centuries. A house can be flooded from a dripping tap if left long enough.
While your life span as a human is not measured in centuries, we can still achieve great things both personally and in our business doing the small things right consistently.
The problem is we’re crap at doing the small things right consistently. Most of us are impatient, and we want everything now and are willing to take shortcuts to do it. Or we think doing what we need to do in one big burst works the same as doing the small things right consistently.
Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day for a month is much better for your teeth than brushing your teeth once a month for the same amount of time in total (122 minutes).
The TRUTH (caps because it’s a universal truth, not my truth or your truth) is …
The only shortcut is skipping straight to the thing that works for you.
And the sooner you do the thing that works for you, the sooner you can enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Every time you decide to buy into somebody else’s advice on how you can have a great business, or be a great business owner, that change has an impact on you and your business. As I’ve discussed in another rant about how small business is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle where you don’t know the big picture, more often than not you end up wasting more time and money distracted by the things that changed, or had to change due to whatever you changed. And sometimes, you end up with more problems than you started with (even if they are different problems than the one you may have supposedly ‘fixed’).
I know this because I have chased rainbows looking to get where I wanted faster, when I should have just focused on the basics and got them right. I put my trust in other people to help me with my business and ended up worse off than when I started, wasting a lot of time and money in the process. In the end, the only real upside was I learnt some expensive lessons about what I shouldn’t have done.
What are the small things you need to do right, consistently?
There is no one answer to this question that works for everyone because every business and its owner is unique. Some of the things that I need to do in my business and do right consistently might be bad for you. And the same applies in reverse.
However, there is one basic rule that’s true for anything in life – you gotta get the basics right before you can do more. Try running when you haven’t learned to walk – doesn’t work out so good.
Business is the same – you gotta get your basics right before you ask more from your business. And that starts with getting your foundations right.
Building strong foundations
These are the basic building blocks from which your business can grow.
Just like a house that is built on soft/shaky ground making it more likely to fall in a storm, a business is the same – shaky foundations means business failure as you try to grow.
What makes up strong foundations for any business?
- Pay all your costs – if you give this to an accountant, administrator or bookkeeper, make sure you know your numbers and you keep an eye on them every week/month – your numbers will change over time, and you don’t want to be caught out not meeting your costs.
- Know and pay all your taxes – even if you give this to an accountant – make sure you KNOW what your taxes are and when they’re due, and make sure you put something aside to pay for your taxes from day one!
- Get something back from your business for your effort – but make sure your business meets its costs, including tax first.
Once your foundations are in order, you can start working on making sure that if something does go wrong (which is likely), you can survive whatever it is – your resilience.
Once you get your foundations right, you can focus on building resilience to help you weather any storm that may come up in your business:
- Get what you’re worth from your business for your effort
- Build up cash savings of approximately two to three months of your costs
- Pay all your debts on time and avoid credit card or overdraft debt
It is important to note, only once you have your foundations and resilience built up should you look at taking bonuses for you and/or your team to help you achieve whatever is important to you.
Taking bonuses for you and your team when you can’t meet your costs is asking for trouble. It’s like trying to run when you haven’t learned to walk. Too many business owners think they deserve bonuses for their hard work, or they’re entitled to them as a business owner – you are only entitled to them when you have earned them – i.e. your foundations are in order, and you have built your business (and maybe personal) resilience.
The path from foundations, to resilience to bonuses
It’s important to note that the foundations and resilience points are not always in a straight line. You don’t always go from one step to the next.
It is entirely possible to have your foundations sorted, and you’re building your resilience only to find you’ve got taxes to pay you didn’t know about (or planned for), or your costs have increased, and you’re no longer meeting your costs … back to foundations you go.
This happened to me. Since starting my business in 2008, I have been in the foundations phase of my business three times (when I started in 2008, again in 2013 and again in 2017).
But doing the small things right (like building your foundations and resilience), and staying on top of them consistently will result in you being able to use your business to contribute to your life and whatever is most important to you.
So how are your business foundations? Do you know what your costs are? Are you putting something aside for your taxes? Are you getting something for your effort? Is what you’re getting for your effort worth it? Do you have a resilience war chest built up to help you get through if something unexpected happens?
If you need help to understand and build your business foundations, building resilience, or being able to take bonuses from your business, give me a call or send me an email.