business personal

Self-Improvement For Small Business Owner – Part II

This is part II of the series (read Part I of Self-Improvement for Small Business Owner).

When you talk or read that goal management is good – you are not making any real progress. Even more so – the more you talk, the more you waste your time. So if you really want to start going – here’s a first step at organizing your goals.

Remember how I talked about dividing your goals into three categories? Hope you do, because, being a geek I have done half of the work for lazy you. The following link will open a Google Document in a new window (you can click on the picture as well for the same effect):

Goal Matrix by
Goal Matrix with Color-Coding

This colored thingy is already broken down into 9 color-coded areas. Once you write your goals in each of the areas, you should start associating your goals with these colors. Now, I am not saying you should use these colors to brain wash yourself, however, if you feel certain colors would represent your goal/priorities better – feel free to copy this chart into Excel or Calc and change them around. The idea is to have three colors for each priority and distinguish between a long and short term by intensity (saturation, if you will) of the same color.

Why? Good question. Ideally, your short term goals must lead you to achieving your long term goals. So by coding short-term goals in the same color as your long terms you implicitly suggesting to yourself that that’s why you are doing this. As an example, take running 10K distance (that’s one of my long term goals for now). I know that I can’t just get up and run 10K, because somewhere around 3 – 4K distance I break down. So I set a short term goal to get an extra 5 minutes to run every week. During my workout yesterday I had a 30 minute run instead of 25 as of last week and I have successfully broken my dreaded 4K barrier. Maybe I stick to 30 minutes for the next week or maybe I will increase it to 35. In any case – running an extra 5 minutes makes a perfect deep-blue colored short term goal, at the same time reminding me that colored in sky blue goal of running a 10K run is getting closer every time I achieve my “+5 min run”.

Aside from that there is one more use for this matrix, which I will talk about in the next part of the series. Stay tuned.

business personal

Self-Improvement For Small Business Owner – Part I

Self Improvement and Time Management - Recently I had a chance to take couple of instructor-led courses. One was on time-management, the other was on managing your goals. Even though I had a pretty good idea on how to do both, I still heard a bunch new things and another bunch was definitely a welcome refreshment. I already wrote about my new strategy in this post, so it all falls into places steadily.

Let’s start with time management. One of the most important things about owning a business is knowing how to manage your own time. If you got to the point when you don’t have time to solve the problems that take all your time – you know you’re in trouble. Take it from the person who’s been there, done that and haven’t even got a T-shirt. And it’s a pretty obvious thing – no matter how hard you try there’s still same old 24 hours in each day, so you have to make do with what you got. Twice harder if you have a family. That’s when goal management kicks in.

Classic goal management approach is simple – you divide all your goals into short-term and long-term goals on a time scale and into “must-haves”, “should-haves” and “nice-to-haves” on priority scale. This matrix should give you an idea of where you must be, should be and rather would be in short and long term. As I’ve said – pretty simple.

Now comes the tricky part – you have to stick to it. If you have never done this before – it’s twice as hard, because you keep forgetting what you have to do because you’re doing something that you’d rather do and it’s much more fun. Again – I know because I’ve been there too.

All this brings us to a simple conclusion – any entrepreneur must have nerves of steel to impose a very strict time and goal discipline onto himself. There is plenty of tools to help you do that, but for me most of them didn’t work – I had to come up with my own way of doing things. More on that – in next posts.

business technology

How To Delegate Your Tasks or A Story About Brand New Branded PC

Dell Desktop Studio XPS 435 There’s a brand new thing I just tried. Having around 16 years of IT experience under my belt (out of 14 years of official work experience overall) I just did something I haven’t done in a long long time. I just ordered a brand-name PC. I did bought two or three custom-built PCs before at computer fair, but never ever in my life did I purchase a brand-name desktop before. All my PCs were custom-built, from carefully researched and hand-picked components. But there’s something I have realized recently.

I realized that I don’t care. Or rather – I don’t have time to care that much. Instead of spending countless hours researching why certain memory brand is better then another, which letter in motherboard name means what feature and which revision supports what I am just going to order pretty much same configuration for pretty much same amount of money. If there will be a difference – it will justifiably offset by the work I’ll be able to get done instead of doing a research. In fact, I really believe that I will be able to earn more money in time I saved by not doing a research then I will be able to save by doing a deep and convoluted research.

This all comes as a part of my new (i.e. new to me, not to the sane people of the world) time management strategy – to manage my time with more scrutiny than ever. Down to a 15-minute intervals, if not less. Buying a branded PC instead of spending an estimate of 20 hours doing research should yield those 20 hours to earn money. If I can charge half that time to the median of my regular rates I would probably earn about $300 – 500 on top of covering an overpayment for this branded PC. Being able to delegate the responsibility of building and delivering a PC to my home allows me to concentrate on money-making activities instead of money-saving ones. What’s good about it is that there’s certainly a ceiling on how much money you can save. In the case of a spherical horse in a void space you can save only as much as you make. There is, however, no limit on how much you can make, so making money by default is much more profitable, than saving.

Time management, on the other side, is a bit different creature. You cannot make more time since there’s only 24 hours per day and only 7 days in any given week. Trust me, I checked. You can, however, save a lot of time by delegating second and third-grade activities (“should do” and “nice to do” things) to other people or institutions. Having custom-built hundreds of PCs I didn’t come easy to the idea of purchasing a PC off-the-shelf. Having been a small business owner for just a few years easily justified the rationale behind delegating this activity.