Overcoming chaos in your business is the key to success for entrepreneurs, according to bestselling author and business coach Dave Crenshaw.
Speaking during a recent Entrepreneurs’ Organization UAE Chapter event in Dubai, where small and medium businesses account for between 33% and 64% of the GDP and between 45% and 62% of employment, the public speaker walked the audience through the necessary steps to “defeat” chaos and build a focused business.
Common causes of chaos, which Crenshaw describes as the “haphazard allocation of your resources toward that which is of variable value”, range from pursuing too many opportunities at once to problem employees and poor delegation.
While Crenshaw, author of Invaluable: The Secret to Becoming Irreplaceable, acknowledged that most entrepreneurs are “addicted” to opportunity, he advised against juggling multiple businesses at once. “It is not bad to pursue opportunity but it is costly to pursue opportunity,” the American author said. “It delays cash flow return – you are tying up two sets of investments at the same time.”
The business coach also said switching from opportunity to opportunity impacts quality and stress levels. “When you as an entrepreneur are trying to juggle too many different things at the same time you are going to get inconsistent results. If instead you can focus on what is most valuable, that is the pathway to success for entrepreneurs.”
Other lessons and ideas explored during the two-hour seminar included balancing building your business with leading a healthy lifestyle, to which Crenshaw presented his interpretation of the Harvest Strategy – a strategy based on the ultimate harvest, “the elusive big ‘pay day’ where [business owners] get to relax and finally enjoy the fruits of their hard work and sacrifice,” explained Crenshaw.
However, he added that the problem with the ultimate harvest is that the reward is so far off into the future that CEOs and business leaders “burn themselves out” or “lose steam”. Rather than wait until “pay day”, he encouraged the audience to reward themselves and their family with a series of mini-harvests to keep motivated - from booking a vacation to going for a walk. “It is not worth it in the end, it is worth it now,” he said.
According to Crenshaw, entrepreneurs and business owners spend less than 20 per cent of their time in the most valuable position, and juggle five different positions at any one time. This, he believes, devalues ones business. Instead, he advised business owners to delegate.
“What are you doing with your other 80%? You’re doing the work of your middle manager, a receptionist, someone running errands, when you could and should be spending your time doing the work of a CEO – the figurehead, the spokesman, the visionary,” Crenshaw said. “Focus on your most valuable positions – the two positions you do the best and would cost you the most to have someone else do – and everything else we delegate.”
His advice to entrepreneurs looking to delegate is document the job at hand instead of just telling people verbally what to do, demonstrate how the task is done, and set a deadline.
The overarching theme of the day, however, was focus. By focusing, Crenshaw said entrepreneurs are more likely to spot market trends and growth opportunities ahead of the competition. “The best entrepreneurs that I have worked with are able to take advantage of trends because they are so focused. If you’re trying to run three or four business at the same time, you’re going to miss out on those trends because it is too much. But if you focus on one industry, study it and become an expert in it you will naturally start to see things appear.”
The same focus, said the author of The Focused Business: How Entrepreneurs Can Triumph Over Chaos, should be channeled into identifying – and marketing to – your target market. His advice? Know what you should be selling, look at past history of the customers who have been buying your product or services and then profile those customers.
“What every business should do is pick [their] message and say it all the time and never ever move from it. The ones that say too many different things at the same time are the ones that struggle because they can’t focus.”