There are two types of rules: rules we set for ourselves, and rules that are set by others. As children, others set most of our rules for us. However, as adulthood approaches, we have to become responsible for setting our own rules and holding ourselves accountable. We set these rules with the purpose of making our lives more fulfilling. You’ve heard these phrases before:
“No carbs after 9pm!”
“No dessert before dinner!”
“No TV during the day!”
“No beer before liquor!”
“No coffee in the afternoon!”
“No checking email after 6pm!
Typically these rules are unwritten, and typically we are the only ones holding ourselves accountable for following them. The objective of declaring these rules is simple: we want to give ourselves boundaries that will guide our paths to success.
Just as these personal rules are helpful in enhancing are personal lives, another set of rules is important to entrepreneurs in helping us achieve more satisfying results. And just like “personal rules” vary from person to person, “entrepreneur rules” vary from entrepreneur to entrepreneur.
Here are three steps for creating some new rules for the new year:
Step 1: Assess the current state of your business and assess your strengths and weaknesses.
Are there parts of your business that you are unsatisfied with? Are you an unbalanced entrepreneur needing some rules to help you manage your time more effectively? Do you need a rule to help you balance your work life and your personal life? Are you a disorganized entrepreneur in need of some rules to help clear the clutter? Are you an overwhelmed entrepreneur in need of some rules to help you simplify and delegate? Are you an unfocused entrepreneur in need of some rules to help you maintain a sharper focus through the day, week, or month? Are you an entrepreneur, focused on growth, who needs some rules to help you focus on revenue producing activities?
Step 2: Create rules that allow you to minimize your weaknesses and accentuate your strengths.
- Lacking personal time with family or friends? Make a rule so that every Tuesday and Wednesday, you turn off your Blackberry and make plans with a friend … no matter what!
- Email constantly disorganized? Create some folders in your inbox, and make a rule that every time you get 10 new messages in your inbox, you will organize those messages and put them in the appropriate folders.
- Bringing work home with you? Make a rule that you cannot discuss work at home on certain days of the week.
- Desk a mess? Create different organizational bins on your desk and make a rule that each new piece of mail will be sorted into its appropriate bin or file folder on the same day you receive it.
- Communication issues when you delegate tasks? Make a rule that you won’t assign a task without having your employee repeat back what he or she is supposed to do.
- Spending too much time on the wrong areas of your business? Create a list of “Key Result Activities” for your business. Make a rule that you have to do at least one of those activities each day before 10 am.
- Not recognizing the progress within your business? Make a rule that you have to reward yourself with a nice dinner, a massage, or even a small bonus after reaching a milestone within your business.
- Having trouble explaining your business? Make a rule to practice your 30-second elevator pitch at least once a week.
- Trouble concentrating while working from home? Make a rule that you need to work at a coffee shop or other location at least two days per week.
- Slacking on tracking numbers? Make a rule that you will only invest in trackable advertising without committing the time to measure the return on investment.
Step 3: Write down your top 3 rules for 2010, hold yourself accountable, and make adjustments when necessary.
Although our personal rules are usually unwritten, my suggestion is to write down your “entrepreneur rules” for 2010 and put them somewhere you can see them on a daily basis. The rules I gave are just examples, however, many of the topics I brought up are common areas that entrepreneurs struggle with.
The goal of this exercise is to create new habits that will be beneficial to you and your business in the long run. Stating these goals as “rules” gives us a language we have been used to since our parents and teachers gave us rules as children. We know rules are not supposed to be broken.
Make sure to set up appropriate systems to hold yourself accountable. There are many ways to hold yourself accountable, but the first step is to make a commitment to yourself to prioritize these rules and to realize the value that following them will have in your business. The second step is to pick an “accountability referee”, a person who will help you to hold yourself accountable. There are many different people in your life who could serve as your “accountability referee”:
- Will you use friends or family? For example, will you tell friends and family that you will no longer check your Blackberry on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings?
- Will you hire a coach in 2010 to hold you accountable?
- Will you join a mastermind group?
That leads me to the final piece of step 3: make sure you have time for adjustments. It is extremely important as an entrepreneur to leave some time to work ON your life and business versus IN your life and business. I call it a weekly life audit. This is an uninterrupted scheduled meeting each week with yourself to review all your objectives. By spending this time each week ON your life and business, you will naturally discover the areas of your life that could benefit from some adjustments. Think that’s a great idea but you will never be able to pull it off? Make a rule. “Weekly life audit with myself every Tuesday at 11am.”
What are your new rules for the new year?
Zak Kraft is a personal coach who helps small business owners focus on the key result areas of their businesses. His coaching program helps them to think bigger, to achieve more consistent results, and to spend more time on the parts of the business they truly enjoy. Check him out @ www.growthtopia.com