Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Allyson Lewis @Allyson7Minutes Allyson has spent the last 29 years developing and teaching concrete, actionable business ideas all over the country. As a successful wife, mom, business owner and time management expert, this wasn’t pie in the sky talk, it was survival as she learned to juggle priorities. In her latest book, The 7 Minute Solution: Creating a Life with Meaning 7 Minutes at a Time, Allyson Lewis shares strategies to help you Prioritize, Organize and Simplify® your life for greater meaning and productivity. Enjoy the worksheets, webinars, and more — subscribe to the downloads for Member Tools area of her website www.The7MinuteLife.com
Smallbizlady: Why is understanding the power of 7 Minutes important for Small businesses?
To experience a more meaningful life, you must consciously choose what you will pay attention to each moment. In business, what you focus on determines your level of fulfillment, productivity, and success. Most of the actions that consistently empower businesses are micro actions, actions that take less than 7 minutes to accomplish, yet in their simplicity, they are often overlooked. When we as business owners, become very focused on microactions, they get us moving. They are the starting point, and the difference between being stuck (doing nothing) and taking action and moving forward. Making small changes, microactions, in your thoughts, expectations, and actions can compound to make monumental changes in your business life. If you focus on microactions, deliberate small steps, tiny steps, because they are doable, achievable, they do not overwhelm you and your business moves forward. Prioritize, Organize, Simplify â„¢ is the first concept The 7 Minute Solution focuses. Setting in motion microactions each day such as:
- Outline a daily plan of action for specific business tasks to engage forward progress
- Thank a co-worker or customer for their service or efforts
- Build time each day to catch up or finish a task that may have been waiting for attention
- Eating your meals, and drinking water, with time for short breaks for snacks…choosing health
Microactions add up, they compound in business and in your personal life. They train your brain to succeed by repetitive awareness of paths to success.
Smallbizlady: How can getting control of your time & your MORE meaningful life improve business success?
Neuroplasticity is the capability of your brain to create new neural connections, to rewire itself for success or failure. When we strategize, organize, and simplify what we expect of ourselves each day in time management, we teach ourselves literally how to succeed in business. When we set small actionable microactions in our daily routines, we focus on five values based microactions before eleven o’clock. Those five focused actions literally in ninety days give us the opportunity to have 450 small changes towards goals we specifically identify. How many of us would find tremendous value in 450 consistent steps towards success every 90 days. Business success can be learned, business success is dependent upon hundreds of microactions that allow for customer service, sales, follow ups, accounting, etc. The majority of problems that hinder small business success are solvable, inactivity or lack of consistent action on the tasks you do know how to do, often are more destructive than the challenges business owners face that they are unsure how to accomplish.
Smallbizlady: What would you advise entrepreneurs and small business owners to do to simplify 2012?
The requirements of small business can be overwhelming if a lack of focused attention on the priorities of your business are not engaged. There are literally hundreds of things you can list that are a part of your success in business, but if most of us are focused, it boils down to five things:
- I think the first priority for every small business person should be to take the 50,000 foot view and it begins with thinking.
- Taking time to think without distraction or taking time to think with FULL attention will allow you to clarify your strategic plan.
- With your strategic plan, you can set boundaries for a clear path that leads to a meaningful destination.
- Next, prioritize your plan into high value activities to achieve your objective, take seven minutes each day to create a written daily plan of action so you will be much more likely on what is most important to your success.
- Finally, you cannot do 100 activities a day. Commit to accomplishing 5 high value activities before 11 am each day. We call these completing these your 5 before 11.
There are hundreds of microactions to support those five steps, but until the first sale is paid for, business is about finding out what you do, connecting clients who need what you do, and how to deliver that product, service, or consultation for a profitable payment. It is very easy to spend an inordinate amount of time wishing you had clients, but when you shift into a specific, measureable, actionable expectation goals each day such as “I will greet each person with smile and “How can I assist you?” or “I will call 10 of our clients to see if they need assistance and to make them aware of our current offer” we move from overwhelmed to on target for success. Imagine how doing 5 of these actions before 11 a.m. each day. How many of you have actually called, or checked up on 900 of your clients or potentials in the last 90 days? Could you see the value of consistent achievable microactions for your business?
Smallbizlady: What is the biggest mistake you see small business owners making about their time usage?
The mistake I believe most of us make until we are aware of the issue is to over-schedule and over estimate what we can accomplish in a day. Just as we cannot play 24/7, we also cannot plan to work effectively without time for life as well as work. We need time for meaningful relationships, health, fun, play, etc. So many business owners are beginning from the position of a side job or second job as they build their new business. My own career as an author, speaker, and facilitator is on the side of another full time role. I had to learn to truly become aware of the high value activities I could engage with my authoring. There were many overwhelming things that could simply keep me making circles with no result until I learned that by focusing on what the high value activities are for the outcomes I desired, I could truly simplify how much time effective actions take. It may take you all month long to worry about how a website should look, but it may only take visiting 6 websites of business websites you enjoy using, or ones that are like your business to know what you do and don’t won’t as you design your own. In my own experience, after 7 minutes of looking, browsing, and thinking about it, I was prepared to find out how to engage those qualities into my own. Did I complete a new website in 7 minutes? No. The website took longer, but I didn’t spend weeks and weeks thinking about needing it, I began where I was and we went forward in small, incremental steps until it was where it functioned in a way that was supportive.
Smallbizlady: The favorite thing I learned from your book, is your 5 before 11 rule? Can you explain that?
The five before eleven process engages five meaningful high value activities into your day before eleven a.m. Those microactions are focused on supporting the life you seek to live. By making them a priority, you are actively seeking to support the MORE life you identify as your goals to living and supporting a MORE life.
Smallbizlady: How did The 7 Minute Solution come to be?
The 7 Minute Solution became the roadmap of my journey to create more meaning in my life. The Seven Minute Difference, the first book in this trilogy of tools, focused on how to make time for life. After six years of focusing on how to get more into my day and helping businesses function effectively, I realized I wanted more than just more things done, I wanted MORE purpose, MORE joy, MORE family time, MORE meaning, MORE focused life goals, not just more done. I wanted to learn how to bring more sustained attention to the values and life engagements I have identified as important to me. Completing a project, task, or goal using sustained attention carries an emotional reward. When you complete those tasks your body rewards you with chemicals called endorphins that give you a sense of well-being. I wanted that sense of well-being to exist in my daily life in many areas of my life.
Smallbizlady: Why isn’t simple time management enough?
Each of us have passion driven purposes and we are empowered and happier when we engage them daily . Meaning and purpose are different for each person. Knowing what is most important to you is the beginning of the MORE life. You probably already know what you truly think is important, but you may not have approached your to-do list with activities that support those values in mind. As we learn to focus on those values, and provide supportive systems to engage those values in our daily life activities, we begin to live our values. When we live our values in our daily existence, our lives reflect more joy, more fulfillment, more success, more of the things and activities that we appreciate…a MORE meaningful life.
Smallbizlady: Why is it important to use a daily planner in business?
When you work in microactions that identify measurable, doable goals, you can improve your income, business, and enjoyment of life. We become what we repetitively do, think, act on. If we focus on the lack of clients without making microactions to create a new customer list or base, we continue to be in lack. If we use a system planner to help us focus, stay on priorities, and review success actions daily, we move our business forward and our life begins to support our desire for success. When we choose high value activities and write them down, we hold ourselves more accountable to measuring the microactions that lead to progress on our goals.
Smallbizlady: How can the 7 minute solution help with goal setting?
What would it be like to step back for a time and THINK? How different would your business and personal life be if you could consciously plan what to pay attention to consistently? Goal setting is about focusing your attention to success in business and in life. Knowing why you do what you choose to do will give you a harness to unlock the power of intention. If your intention is to increase customer repeat business, setting micro action goals such as verbal appreciation to each transaction, a followup call, email, or thank you postcard, and/or customer reward based surveys to check how you are doing may be appropriate goals to support the desire to have more repeat interactions. By knowing the macro goals, the micro actions become very easy to focus and move forward with as you engage the 7 minute solutions.
Smallbizlady: How does your first book The 7 minute Difference compare to this new book the 7 Minute Solution?
The first book was about the “what” actions for time management, new book shares how and why to do those actions. The 7 Minute Difference was about what time efficiency would look like in business. After several years of training and the changes in real time media 24/7, I realized that a new path would have to include choosing value based activities with the understanding that a MORE life for me was more than simply performing in business. I wanted MORE meaning, MORE fun, MORE time with family, MORE giving and other activities that have a high emotional payoff for a meaningful life. This book gives you the “HOW” and “WHY” of how to implement that learning.
Smallbizlady: Do you have tools, free materials or a planner to review for small businesses?
It is my goal to provide as many tools in as many modalities of learning for people who want to find their MORE life as a service to our readers. Our online version and applications for ipad and for smart phones are underway. We are constantly developing, updating, improving and providing new resources for those who seek them at absolutely a “no strings attached” model. You can download the first chapter of the book, use tools to support your desired changes and even download the planner with no expectation of purchase. Of course, we believe once you learn The 7 Minute Solution concepts and tools, you’ll never want to be without them! Our team members are as diverse as this audience in age, background, and culture, we know the value of developing the tools so that each person finds one designed for their learning style and experiences.
What would your final advice be for small business owners such as yourself?
Take the time to truly think through what it is that is the MORE life for you. Set goals, talk about what matters with those who matter to you. Work through the steps to finding your purpose with the tools we provide for free in Member tools. Take time to Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify your life goals and activities. Your life is truly worth taking the time to consider.
FREE OFFER: Would you like to receive a download of Chapter 1 and the free member tools such as our Daily Progress Report Planner? The 7 Minute Life materials are at http://www.the7minutelife.com . We would love to you’re your MORE life goals personally and professionally for 2012 on our Facebook wall. www.facebook.com/the7minutelife (and know that one of MY goals is to give MORE away this year, so keep checking back with us for MORE gifts we’re giving away!)
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/S797e
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of MFE Consulting LLC, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine recently named her one of the Top 20 women for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also the author of the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. (Adams Media 2010)