Ah – time to plan…when is there ever enough time to stand back and just think? I may sound like a broken record, but putting a non-negotiable block of time on your calendar for CEO time is the only way this is going to happen.
As entrepreneurs, especially during growth surges, it is easy to get sucked back into working IN your business (“ I just need to get this DONE!”), rather than ON your business (“What is happening in the big picture?”). Your best bet for getting out of the weeds is to plan some think-time.
I’m sure you have a strategic plan for your business or you wouldn’t have made it to year two or beyond. So, let’s assume that’s a given. You also need the discipline of doing a weekly check-in. Pick a time in your schedule when you are at your clear-headed best. For me, that’s early morning, and Friday’s are the day when I’m winding things up. So, Friday morning is my weekly CEO time block on my calendar. I don’t’ take calls, check email, schedule meetings. I’m booked for a solid two hours, sometimes three.
What do you do during your CEO time? Pick a few of these ideas or rotate through them throughout the month so you hit them all:
- Update your KPIs. Establish what your key performance indicators are and update these at least monthly. This is not just for revenue, but any measure of progress that you deem important. How many strategy sessions did you have? How many client meetings, new email contacts, web visits, and new social media followers did you have? Did you attend any networking events?
- Monthly – Take a look at your profit and loss statement. How are you doing? Are you making a profit? Here is where it comes back to the bottom line!
- Plan – Long and short range. If your 3 to 6-month plan is nailed down, then revisit and make adjustments as necessary. Start making notes about the next 6 months – the first stage before actually setting things in motion. You may have set aside some ideas and projects for later. Start building one or two of those into the next planning phase.
- Set your specific goals for the next month. Can you contact five potential partners for a collaboration, schedule at least one speaking gig, attend one new networking event?
- Build organizational culture. If you have a team, this would be the time to plan team-meeting agendas, team events, and think about the areas where your organizational culture needs to improve.”
- Plan for scaling – Next stage of business. Think about it now as you are growing. Keep on eye on that org chart (fledgling as it may be). Will you need additional team members? What additional professional services will you need add – legal counsel, CPA, salesperson or manager? Are there areas of your biz that are ripe for outsourcing
- Build Playbooks – Processes for scaling. For anything you do more than three times, write down your process in detail or film a training video. Create templates, email copy, or scripts that you can just cut and paste or reuse repeatedly to save time.
- Check in with yourself on your own performance. How am I doing? Am I delegating enough and doing it well? Am I aware of customer needs? Am I on top of team needs and performance? Are you truly spending 80% of your time on things that will move the needle in your business, or are you spending too much time on busywork? Re-visit your top priorities – do they still hold?
Pixar studios did a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film “Finding Nemo.” A few of the lead animators and story creators attribute the success of the movie to “story think time”-cut to a picture of them asleep at their desks. Don’t sleep! But do plan your own story think time, or what I call CEO time, into your schedule today!