Small Business Stress Buster: Completion not Perfection
Completion not Perfection
I frequently meet with business owners and executives who feel overworked and undervalued. Many of them are highly gifted and are in fact contributing a huge amount of work, energy and brilliance to the companies they own or work for. The problem is that many business owners and executives are contributing the wrong effort, energy and brilliance to their companies. These professionals are working hard, but their clients and employers are just not getting the value they truly want and need.
>>> The business owners who spend hours designing the perfect logo for their yellow pages ad, but do not write a simple, clear headline that lets their prospective clients know why they are different and better than the competition.
>>> The dedicated administrative assistants who spend hours making spreadsheets to track the number of calls a new ad generates and where they are coming from when it turns out that the department that placed the ad is interested in the amount of revenue the ad generated, not the volume of calls.
>>> They are also countless other gifted individuals who are working hard to offer value, before they are clear about what value they should be offering, how they can most easily offer that value and when they should be saying to themselves "job well done" and moving on.
You cannot get completely around work-effort is simply part of the price of success. However, hard work is not always a sign of professional success. Sometimes hard work is just hard, and unnecessary. In fact for many business owners and upwardly mobile executives too much hard work can be a sign of starting to veer off track. In short, too much hard work is suspicious. It tells us we have lost sight of the true value we are offering.
Ask yourself, though, if all your hard work is really paying off. Can you see clear evidence that the effort you are expending is getting you where you want to be?
For many professionals, the answer is no. We work all the time, but often find we're spinning our wheels. Crafting a personal vision and making sure it's aligned with the goals of the company you work for can help, but often the answer is much simpler than that.
Stop Moving the Goalpost
Too often, the nearer we get to meeting our goals, the larger we make them. When you are about to achieve your aim, try to accept and celebrate it instead of asking yourself what else you can or should add on to the original goal. Instead of trying to do everything there is to do, and do it perfectly, take the time to discover what it is that gives your co-worker, boss or customer ultimate value. Then focus on that to the exclusion of all else. The point is not to eliminate all the items on your to-do list. It will never happen. The point is to provide exceptional value. When you have delivered the value, you are complete.
This idea goes against the grain for many of us. After all, we want to be the best at what we do.
Stop for a minute to consider what that means from your internal customer's point of view. Are you writing detailed reports nobody reads, or spending money and time developing systems and procedures that are never used? Are you busy trying to save your employees or coworkers from hassles or responsibilities it would be in their best professional interest to learn to deal with effectively on their own?
To be the best, you need to focus your talent and energy on the things your internal customers value. You also need to trust yourself enough to move on to your next customer or project when the value is delivered. Continual communication is attractive. Continual customer placating or "fussing" about your work is not.
Use The Five Keys to Greater Productivity and Profits:
1) Get clear about why the company pays you. What is the ultimate benefit of what you do and how does that help your company make a profit and deliver its ultimate benefit to its customer?
Don't focus on everything you can do for your company, focus on where you can have the biggest impact on company goals and bottom line. When you look at your business from your internal customer's perspective, you may find that some details matter very much, while others do not. Why spend hours tracking the number of calls in response to an ad when the Marketing Department really cares about the dollar amount of sales generated by the ad?
The key to "completion, not perfection" is knowing that you cannot be all things to all people, and then consciously deciding what you can and will be and to whom. How do you know when you have done exactly the job you have set out to do? How do you know that the company received what it paid you to provide? When you know those answers, you'll find you don't need to be a perfectionist. You simply need to deliver on the promises you make.
2) Stop trying to impress people and serve them instead. Businesswomen often expend energy and money to do things like "look professional" and "improve credibility." While these strategies may help your employer understand you can deliver what you promise, they are irrelevant if the benefit of what you do is unclear or unattractive, or if you are not delivering what others expect from you. Learn the difference between benefits, features and your "image" then keep 90% of your focus on the benefits you deliver.
If you are a web designer, the graphics on your web page should be impressive. If you are an accountant, a clearly communicated specialty in a certain type of accounting and a fast return phone call when people inquire about your services might be more impressive (and less costly) than a fabulous web design.
3) Write out your top ten personal values. Ask yourself, "Where am I acting in ways contradictory to my values?" We often engage in unproductive work when we are covering for the fact that we have taken on the wrong work in the first place. Make sure your work truly reflects your talents and your values, and you will find that the quality speaks for itself.
4) Remind yourself why you chose this business or career. Write out a single sentence that describes the emotional, financial, lifestyle or intellectual rewards you want from your work. Read this every day. You cannot serve others and provide them with ultimate value unless you first serve and value yourself.
5) Delegate as often as possible and choose the projects that are most closely related to the core benefit you provide your employer. Your job is not to do every project or task in the organization. Your job is to be part of a team that gets it all done. Talk to your supervisor to find out how you can align your job so the company benefits the most from your unique talents. Reorganize workloads or reassess tasks when the company isn't getting the powerful results it needs.
After leaving you with these five tips to ponder, I am tempted to come up with a zingy one-liner, or great client example to top off this article, but that might be moving the goalpost. I've said what I need to say. Now I challenge you to see if you can put it to use in your life. May you and your company profit from it!
Mari Geasair is a speaker, writer, and business coach. She has owned several profitable businesses of her own, in addition to helping hundreds of individuals succeed professionally. Visit her web site at http://www.mycreativeprosperity.com/ for more resources for making your professional success easy. Also check out her small business training by telephone for the home business builder who wants to avoid the most common traps most enetreprenuers fall into. Small Business Smarts: http://www.mycreativeprosperity.com/Dream-Builders.html
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