20 Days To Improve Your Business

Each Monday for the next 20 weeks we are going to focus on one activity you can do today or  over the next week to build yourself a  better business.  These short, actionable posts will show you what steps you need to take to take your business to the next level.

This is Day 1 – Block Out Time

At Google its engineers are routinely allowed to block out 20% of their time to focus on their own pet projects. Some of these projects have grown into major products such as Google Docs and Google Mail.

Even the CEO routinely takes out 20% of his time to work on personal projects. In fact an article in the Financial Times quoted CEO Eric Schmidt as saying that 20% time was vital to the success of Google saying:

“Twenty per cent time acts as an “escape valve” for employees who have “control freak type managers”, he said. “It serves as a check and a balance over bad managerial behaviour… You’re going to be more creative if you have some control over your time.”

When you are your own boss you have total control over your time.  But it might not seem that way thanks to all the interruptions.  Phone calls, meetings, instant messages and emails all disrupt you from focusing on your business.

So you need to start thinking about focusing on your business and  creating your own 20% time to look at opportunities to grow your business.  Yes, we are talking one whole day to focus on your business. Where you focus on strategy, research new projects, review your competitors, read an industry report or a personal development book. Or even look at making changes to your business model or operating costs.

Fundamentally anything that could take your business to the next level. You could even schedule lunch with a client or a supplier on this day to learn more about their business and see if they can help you identify opportunities.

Start with 10% time

In the short term you might find it difficult to block out a whole day all in one go. So aim for half a day at first and make this the same day each week. Because if you keep changing it around you’ll never stick to it.  If you’re struggling to find half a day, start with an hour. Then next week add 2 hours and work up to it until you have a full day scheduled.  If you can’t do this maybe try two half days, but on the same days each week (eg. Wednesday and Friday afternoons)

When you start going through your calender make sure you block out at least 12 full days (or equivalents) over the next 3 months and protect this time as if your life depended on it.

Because this is the time that you’re working on your business and not in your business.

When you’ve got your head down and your nose to the grindstone, it’s difficult to see where you are going. So taking time out to look at the fundamentals of your business will pay dividends time and time again.

You know in your heart of hearts that you need to be spending more time working on your business, so this is the opportunity you’ve been looking for  to do something about it. Schedule that time in your calendar now.

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