What is the most important business tool you use in your business?
If you’re a web designer then you might think it’s your computer?
If you’re a plumber, then you might think it’s your wrench?
If you’re a painter and decorator, then maybe you think it’s your van to carry all of your gear around in?
If you’re struggling to think of what’s your most important business tool, then Forbes.com have a helpful list: 30 Terrific Tools For Small Businesses maybe it’s one of them?
But actually, you’d be wrong.
So what is the most important business tool?
The Most Important Business Tool Is Your Calendar
Whenever I coach a new client I ask them to tell me about what they want to achieve out of their business. I ask them to tell me what their business priorities are for the coming year.
Most of the time my clients usually say to me that they want to grow their business and take it to the next level. They often express this in terms of numbers of new customers they want to add or a certain level of income they want to reach, or maybe they tell me a certain income they want to earn this year.
Then I ask them what their typical week looks like.
I ask them to go through their diary or calendar for the last week and tell me what their week entails.
Nine times out of ten, I find that when I go through their calendar with them, day by day or hour by hour, I find that they spend a lot of time dealing with the stuff that happens when you run a business.
You know, taking calls, processing orders, attending meetings, dealing with staffing issues and of course the hundred and one other issues that occur in any busy business owner’s week that you simply didn’t expect. Stuff happens I get that.
But what I find is that these business owners are barely spending any time at all on what they say are their business priorities for the year.
And no surprise, if you aren’t spending any time working on your business priorities, then chances are, you aren’t going to surprised with the results.
In other words, if this is you, then your business is owning you, not you owning your business.
You are your calendar
The only thing you control is your time. If you say that something is business priority then you have to make it a business priority. And you make something a priority by spending time on it.
If your not spending time on your priorities. Then guess what? These aren’t your priorities.
The calendar never lies.
A calendar (or a diary) is quite simply the most important business tool you can use to grow your business.
So like all tools, you need to put it to good use.
So the first step to making something a priority is to block out time.
Schedule Time To Work On Priorities
And the easiest way to block out time is to use your calendar by scheduling the first hour of your day to work on your priorities. Working on your priorities need to be like saving money. Save the money first, spend what’s left. Not the other way around.
So it follows that the first thing you do each day is to spend time working on your priorities. Because if you don’t spend time on your priorities up front, chances are something else will get in the way which means that before you know it you’ll be squeezing in working on your priorities to the time that’s left and we all know what that means.
There’s no time left to work on your priorities.
Remember: The calendar never lies.
If it’s not on the calendar or in the diary, it’s simply not important to you.
Do A Weekly Review
Just like any other tool you use in your business might benefit from a little maintenance, so will your most important business tool.
At the end of each week, spend some time going over your business priorities that you’ve set yourself and ask yourself the following question:
“what is the one thing that I can do this week which will take me one step closer to achieving my priorities?”
Then write it down.
Then guess what?
Put it in your calendar or mark it in your diary. Now. So you don’t forget it.
Then make sure that you make it a priority for the week ahead.
Secondly, whilst you’re reviewing the week ahead check to see what you don’t need to do. Do you really need to attend that meeting? Do you really need to call the supplier and tell them they delivered the wrong thing last week? Whatever time you can free up, make sure that you use that time to work some more on your priorities.
Just imagine, if you spend just 30 minutes a day (2.5 hours a week) in just 4 months you’ll have spent the equivalent of a whole working week just working on your business rather than in it.
Imagine what your business could achieve in that time.
The weekly review I first learned about from David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Are of Stress Free Productivity which is the most powerful and practical productivity guide I’ve ever written. I’ve adapted Allen’s weekly review to focus mainly on my goals rather than just the tasks that I need to do, but the discipline of having this review each week is invaluable.
I personally do my weekly review on a Friday afternoon as I like to finish the week knowing that I have no loose ends from the previous week which might slip my mind if I leave them until the following week. However, I know many people do their weekly reviews on Sunday night so they are ready to launch straight into it the following day.
The important thing though is to find a day and a time that works for you and schedule it.
Make it priority and put it in your calendar.
Remember, if you aren’t spending time working on your priorities, then they aren’t your priorities.
Decide what’s important to you and turn into a reality by putting it in your calendar.