Say, for instance, that you wanted to become proficient at playing guitar. You’ve taken lessons and now you want to take your skills to the next “rockstar” level. What would you do? Well, obviously, you would practice playing your guitar—over and over again.
At the same time, what would not directly help you improve your skills? Let’s see…
- Twittering your friends about your new guitar ability
- Reading the top 20 blogs about guitars
- Networking with other musicians
- Spending all day on music message boards and forums
Even though these things might make you feel like you’re working towards your goal, it’s unlikely they will help you become a better guitar player.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that these aren’t effective ways to cultivate your overall music knowledge and ability, but there is a point of diminishing return and it’s likely that they’re merely acting as a distraction keeping you from your original goal.
On a similar note, if you want to grow your business and increase your income, what would you do?
Well, you’d work on the things that directly make you money.
This seems pretty logical, right? Most of us savvy entrepreneurs are thinking, “I spend every free second of my day working to grow my business, of course I focus on the things that make me money!”, but are you really?
I definitely learned this lesson the hard way. When I quit my engineering job and was working on my retail store, I would spend 8-12 hours each day working on my business. I would fill my day with the activities that I thought were industrious—re-decorating the store, updating the website, going to networking events, Facebooking, accounting, designing advertisements, etc.
When I look back on it though, I realize that NONE of these tasks brought in any additional income to my store. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what your store or your website looks like if no one ever sees it. This is where it gets tricky—I felt like I was being really productive every day, but it turned out to all just be busy work.
Of course, what happened? Well, I had to close my retail store after 2 years. Now, think about if I had spent 8-12 hours per day working on things that made me money—marketing, pitching the media, and working to bring more people into the store. Even if I spent a meager half of my time doing this, the results would have been a lot different.
There is a distinction between productive, income-building work and busy work. Even though busy work might include regular activities that that need to get done for your business (accounting, social media, blogging, etc), most of the time it just a large sticky web of distractions.
If you are currently trying to ramp up your business income, don’t fall into the trap of busy work.
I can’t stress this enough. With every task that you decide to tackle, ask yourself: “Will this directly make me money?” If the answer is “no”, “I don’t know” or “maybe”, move onto to the next thing. If you don’t know if something will make you money, think back to whether or not it has in the past.
For instance, if you’re considering attending an upcoming networking event, you might ask yourself the question, “Will this activity make me money?” Well, if you’ve attended 10 networking events in the past and not one of them has led to getting another client, customer or referral partner and hasn’t positively affected your business’s bottom line in any way, chances are that this is just busy work. Take a step back and see how you could use that time in a way that would be more productive.
On the other hand, if networking events are the main way that you grow your client base and you’ve had success in the past landing new customers using this approach, by all means—grab your business cards and go.
Once you get a sense of which business-related activities actually make you money, try to spend at least 75% of your time working on those tasks. Then spend the other 25% of your time doing the busy work that does need to get done.
You will notice a huge difference in your business’s growth when you spend the majority of your time working on the activities that increase your income. And if you continue along this path, you will be a business rockstar in no time.