Why a stop-doing list is crucial for business growth
To-do lists have become a common part of our business lives and help us keep up with the constant demands and never ending list of ‘stuff’ we must get done. And many business owners equate success to the number of tasks they get done. This often means you focus less on the most important tasks – which are often the tasks that provide you with the greatest return.
If you’re like most business owners I work with, you probably got into business to earn more money, have more time and find more freedom. However, many business owners feel like they’ve lost control of their business and life. This is often a result of getting caught up in the busyness trap and believing that working harder is the answer.
To win in today’s fast and ever-changing business environment you must have a stop-doing list! Trying to do everything yourself and thinking you are saving money and/or saving time is often your brain playing tricks on you. You need to be focusing on the most important areas and stop doing the rest.
What I've come to learn is that the fastest growing companies and the fastest growing businesses in any industry – retail or service based, online or offline - aren't led by the people doing the most. They're led by the people who understand what the most important things. In my book ‘The Stop Doing List’ we call this your ‘genius’. Your genius is defined by the things you love doing, that you are good at and that have a great financial return for you and the business.
In my opinion the most important areas for you to be focusing on as an owner of a retail business is buying, marketing and customer service. However, when you look at your to-do list I am sure that more than 70% of the tasks you have on your list are not related to these three areas.
Your stop-doing list will:
- Help you get clarity on what you need to say no to.
- Help you find plenty for your staff to do
- Create more time for you to focus on what will make you money
The aim is to have you create a stop-doing list and then over time either eliminate, automate or delegate these tasks to others. More times than not, this results in great forward movement in your business and inevitably more profit and freedom for you. The reality is that 20 per cent of what we do will bring us 80 per cent of our result. The 80:20 rule continues to be true and will always be true. It's a fundamental law and until we understand that we need to stop doing many of the tasks that are being put in front of us and focus on the most important, then growth will be limited.
A stop-doing list is no longer a nice thing to have, but it's a must-have. To succeed in today's world, you must understand that to create more time to focus on the right things, you must stop doing all the wrong things.
Learning to say no
Success is often built on a reflex habit of saying yes to opportunities or requests that come our way. If you say yes and can’t follow through — not because you don’t want to or intend to but simply because you don’t have the time to do everything you have said yes to — then you inevitably let the person you said yes to down. Learning to say no in the right way will accelerate your success and is a must to successfully implement the stop-doing list system.
Here are five tips to help you say no with more confidence:
- Back-of-the-envelope pros and cons. Making a decision with information in front of you is always easier. By simply writing down the pros and cons of either a yes or no decision enables you to clearly see the implications of your decision.
- Actions speak louder than words. It is important that your actions are consistent with your words. If you are constantly answering yes to things and not following through because you really should have said no, then you will find yourself with more challenges than if you simply said no in the first place. Set yourself some clear rules and boundaries and stick to them.
- If you’re not 100 per cent committed to your answer, then ask for time. Often we are so busy that we are not 100 per cent present when saying yes or no. If you are unsure whether to answer yes or no to a request, then it is reasonable to ask for some time to rationalise your decision. You might use this time to check your schedule or chat with your team before committing to an outcome.
- Calculate the ROI. You must start to associate a real cost to everything you do. Your time is worth money and you need to ensure you are investing it for maximum return each day. When presented with an opportunity, simply calculate the hours you expect the task or project to take and multiply this by your hourly rate. This simple back-of-the-envelope calculation will make the decision easy.
- Share your reason for saying no. Many of the people you start saying no to may not be used to this answer from you. They may feel rejected and this may strain the relationship. By simply sharing your reason for saying no (you simply have too much on, can’t free up enough budget at the moment, etc.) you will generally get a more positive response and maintain strong working relationships.