Seize the Moment!

Regular readers of this blog will know that I like to be organised (and yes, I do know this is a serious understatement!) however you may be surprised to hear that I also believe that sometimes in business it is right to be “spontaneous”. However, I do use the word “spontaneous” advisedly because whilst to an outsider a decision can appear spontaneous, in reality it is only the timing which is so…

I always think September is a great time to review your business (do you ever escape that “Back to School “feeling at the start of new academic year?) and for me there are two key areas to consider:

Where your business is now – your products / services, customers, demand, competitors, economic conditions, local market issues – all the old faithful tools like a SWOT or PEST analysis that I first used 30 years ago are still relevant today.

SWOT = Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats
PEST = Political / Economic / Social / Technological

Where you want your business to be this time next year – this may be about growing your business or it could be that you need to focus on running your business more efficiently.

This does not have to be a long and arduous process – all this information is in your head anyway – just switch off your phone and take a morning to write down everything you know about your business and where you want it to go.

Then you need to think about how you are going to achieve this – what do you need to do?

The answers will not be a surprise to you – but the trick is to actually make them happen – you don’t want to be looking at the same list this time next year.

Tips I can give you that I find helpful:

• My magazine design / print / distribution schedule is planned 18 months ahead but when I am organising this I always make sure I schedule in regular “project time”, i.e. days where I will be working on one of my major ongoing projects – so no events / meetings or routine magazine work will be scheduled for these days.

• Major projects require thinking time so find a regular occasion when you are not working just to think things through. I “walk to work” on my treadmill most mornings – that is great thinking time.

• I work out of an A4 hardback “Day Book”. At the back, I give each project its own page and when I have a random moment of inspiration I write it down on the relevant page. This way when I come to my allocated day to work on a project I have lots of material already there.

So how does all this planning and organisation relate to acting spontaneously?

One thing I can tell you is that Opportunities never appear in a planned and orderly fashion so when one presents itself you want to be able to grab it with both hands and go with it – but how do you know if it really makes good business sense?

If you regularly review your business i.e. “Where your business is now” you will know the answer immediately, only needing to verify facts and timings, enabling you to take advantage of the opportunity straight away.

Internal projects
relating to improving your efficiency are very easy to postpone – after all no one else knows about them – but time wasted doing something inefficiently could be better spent growing your business.

If you have spent time thinking about the project, have got lots of notes on what you need to do and know who you need to talk to then can I say please just DO IT NOW.

Finally, some of the best ideas are small changes, improvements and moments of inspiration which don’t need complex planning – so if you have an idea for a small change to the way you run or promote your business just “seize the moment” and try it out.

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