If you want to take your business to the next level, it’s important to take time out from the daily grind of paperwork, meetings and answering emails to work on growth strategies.
Of course, this can be easier said than done without the right framework to help you get there.
Management coach Peter Gilchrist, who shared his insights at the PLAN Australia High Performance Conference in March, recommends taking three key steps to accelerate business growth.
Step one: Boost your business awareness
The first step toward faster growth is to increase your level of awareness, both of your business and of your overall daily approach. Simple awareness exercises can help you become aware of the beliefs and habits that could be holding you back, Mr Gilchrist said.
“If there is no awareness then there is no growth. It’s just you doing the same thing over and over,” Mr Gilchrist said.
One simple awareness exercise is to write down some of the easy wins for your business over the last three months, then also take note of what has been hard and what might need to change.
Mr Gilchrist also recommended analysing what you’ve been taught about business, money and delegation, and by whom. Often people adopt sayings they’ve heard in their early childhood such as, “If you want something done properly, do it yourself,” without questioning their merit. Be curious and prepared to change your ways.
Another process is to analyse what he calls your “busyness level”. “How many loans can you write in a month before you feel busy, and what happens after you reach that level? Do you retreat or power on through? Just being aware of what you do can change your behaviour, and let you power on,” he said.
According to Mr Gilchrist, perhaps the most powerful awareness tool of all is meditation. It can be as simple as focusing on your breath and watching your thoughts come and go as you sit quietly for 10 minutes.
“They say creativity comes from the gap in your thinking. And most people don’t have any gap in their thinking from the time they wake up in the morning to the time they go to sleep.”
Step two: More prospecting, less 'stuff'
The next step is to make sure you’re spending enough time on the activities that will make your business grow.
Look at the amount of time you are devoting to tasks like paperwork and answering emails, which Mr Gilchrist likes to group under the heading of “stuff”, and how much is dedicated to prospecting. If you’re not prospecting every day, you’re much more likely to go through lulls in your business.
“What often happens is brokers do some prospecting, get a whole bunch of opportunities, and then they just do stuff. When we’re doing stuff, we’re not prospecting, we’re not working on customer acquisition. So, then what happens is we’re busy for a month, we’ve made some money, but then we’ve got nothing else to go on with. And that’s the perpetual cycle.”
Step three: Find the time
Finally, you need to make sure you carve out the capacity to work on these growth activities.
Mr Gilchrist recommended a daily schedule that gets the “stuff” done early. This is when you attend to all those waiting tasks such as dealing with your in-tray and inbox, checking fees and doing paperwork. Don’t allow any incoming calls or messages during this time.
“If you do shut everything down and you do 8.30am to 10am, you will get most of that done, and it’s a fantastic feeling. Motivation comes from achievement.”
Then focus solely on prospecting. The time needed depends on your business. If you’re a new business, you may need three to four hours. If you don’t have any clients, spend two or three hours. Even on the busiest of days, spend at least an hour.
The remainder of the day is for meetings. Don’t be swayed from your schedule. If a staff member wants to talk during your early-morning task time, schedule a meeting for later in the day.
“Ad hoc is the enemy of your spare time. If you do things as they come during the day, you’re going to pay for it by not getting home until eight o’clock,” Mr Gilchrist said.
The belief that managers should have an open-door policy is an “absolute fallacy”, he said.
“When you are doing your prospecting, for an hour or two hours, your door is closed. The person who gets through is your partner or the prime minister.”
Mr Gilchrist runs two-day management bootcamps for high-performing real estate agents and also works with brokers to help them build their businesses.
Overall, he says that it’s important to raise the bar of your own expectations. At bootcamp, he takes participants through a meditation where they imagine they’ve been away from their business for several months. In their absence, the performance of the business has improved markedly and is “going gangbusters”.
He asks them to step inside the business and notice what the turbocharged operation looks like, to give them a detailed picture to work towards.
“You don’t get what you want in life. You get what you expect and aspire to,” he said.