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Routine vs exception

Being a business owner can sometimes seem like a thankless task. You’ve got a to do list that never seems to go down – in fact, for every task you complete, you seem to gain another two in its place. You have to be an expert across multiple different disciplines – from HR to marketing, finance to sales.  And no matter how hard you try to please everybody, there’s always someone who’s unhappy with a decision you make.

Sound familiar?

Whether you’re new to running a business or an old hand, we can all find ourselves being a busy fool if we’re not careful. But it really doesn’t have to be that way and actually, adopting this approach could ultimately stop your business from reaching its potential.

One of the things we like to work on with our clients is the concept of routine vs exception. What does this mean?

Let’s start with the routine.

Many small businesses start off with only skeleton staff. In these circumstances it can be easy to muddle through, without really having things such as filing systems, automated documents or good record keeping systems in place. The issue comes when businesses fail to improve their systems when they grow.

It’s all too easy to adopt the ‘it’s quicker and easier if I just do it’ approach. But if there are processes running in the background, allowing the business to operate on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, you won’t have to spend your own precious time seeing these are done.

Yes, it may take an element of ‘pain’ initially, with time required to set things up and train others on where things are/how to operate systems etc, but in the long run, you will reap the benefit many times over.

It sounds simple, but by removing some of the arduous, time consuming tasks from your own to do list, and introducing systems to see that they’re completed with little or no input from yourself, you will not only release time, but importantly, much needed headspace.

This is where the exception comes in…for all the time you’re no longer focusing on the everyday minutia; you can apply to improving your businesses.  These aren’t always big things; they can actually be a series of quite small activities that over time, will mount up to significant results.  Perhaps it’s improving your website content or marketing materials, touching base with clients, doing some staff training or renegotiating deals with suppliers. All things that require the human touch!

There’s little doubt that it takes a certain type of individual to be a successful business owner. And we don’t always start off with the right approach – this often has to be learnt the hard way!


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