“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” —F. M. Alexander
I was recently in San Diego for a digital marketing conference and had a chance to interact with several noobie-preneurs (new business owners who are making the difficult switch from employee to entrepreneur). Now, my focus isn’t digital marketing, but I do see the value of marketing online and wanted to expand my knowledge in this area, which is why I attended the conference.
Seeing many fresh-faced entrepreneurs reminded me of just how difficult starting a business – any business in any industry – can be.
The Difficulty Of Switching From Employee To Business Owner
Many new businesses are started by people who were great employees for their company in their specific industry. At this conference, for example, there are many people who performed social media tasks for their companies and now want to start their own business doing the same.
But the mindset between being a great employee and a successful business owner is completely different.
Being a great employee does not guarantee success as a business owner. In fact, many of the traits that make you a good employee, such as being a task manager, being able to multi-task, following orders, etc… do not carry over well to being a business owner.
These traits are a big reason why so many small businesses fail. Too many times this scenario plays out: A noobie-preneur creates a new business, is their best employee in the business, doesn’t have time to create systems and processes, can’t delegate to others, is unable to grow, and eventually burns out & closes their doors or sells to someone else.
There’s an old saying that goes something like “I’m a jack of all trades but a master of none“. When you’re an employee, you derive value from being a ‘jack of all trades’.
If you want to succeed in business, you must be good at mastering ONE thing.
Let me be clear: If today, at this moment, your company doesn’t know what that ONE Thing is, then your ONE Thing is to find out.
A great resource for helping you do this is reading Gary Keller’s book “The ONE Thing”.
The ONE Thing Book
The ONE Thing is about getting extraordinary results in every situation by cutting out the distractions and getting small. No matter how success is measured–personal or professional–only the ability to dismiss distractions and concentrate on your ONE Thing stands between you and your goals. Below is a video from his website that explains how simple the process is.
Gary Keller is the founder and chairman of the board for Keller Williams Realty, the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. Keller is recognized as one of the most influential leaders in the real estate industry, leading his company to 30 consecutive years of growth and profitability. He is also a coach and keynote speaker and as someone who’s read his book and taken his course, I can say that he has helped find success narrowing down my ONE thing.
Top Lessons Learned From The ONE Thing
The one theme from the book is that focusing on your one thing is good and all other things are distractions, which is bad. There are a couple of lessons that Keller goes over to drill in this point to his readers, like the importance of prioritizing, the sins of multi-tasking, and the requirement for all entrepreneurs to think BIG!
Everyone Has The Same 24 Hours In A Day
In The ONE Thing, Keller asks a very important question about how some people are able to get more accomplished in a day than others by seemingly doing less:
“If everyone has the same number of hours in the day, why do some people seem to get so much more done than others? How do they do more, achieve more, earn more, have more? If time is the currency of achievement, then why are some able to cash in their allotment for more chips than others?
The answer is they make getting to the heart of things the heart of their approach. They go small. Going small is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.”
For example, let’s say your business is designing custom cakes. You love baking. You hate marketing. Many noobie-preneurs in this situation will focus on doing the thing they love (baking) rather than doing the thing that needs to be done (sales). The ONE thing you would need to do in your business is to create a sales pipeline for orders for your bakery, otherwise, you’ll have nothing to bake. Remember, it doesn’t have to be YOU doing the sales, but your FOCUS must be getting in customers. To achieve this focus, you will have to have a system in place for baking and be able to delegate these tasks to others. This simple process is how businesses succeed. Unfortunately, all too often, business owners focus on doing what they love (baking), don’t hire out, and let sales fall by the wayside because it’s uncomfortable getting rejected.
Prioritizing Your Tasks
In The ONE Thing, Keller says that achievers always work from a clear sense of priority because it’s not that we have too little time, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.
“Long hours spent checking off a to-do list and ending the day with a full trash can and a clean desk are not virtuous and have nothing to do with success. Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list—a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.”
To-do lists tend to be long while success lists are short. A ‘to-do’ list will pull you in all sorts of different directions while your success list aims you in a specific direction. If your to-do list contains everything, then it’s probably taking you everywhere but where you really want to go.
The Sin Of Multi-Tasking
Another lesson to be learned from The ONE Thing is that mult-tasking is a BAD habit!
Here’s what Keller has to say about multi-tasking:
“With research overwhelmingly clear, it seems insane that—knowing how multitasking leads to mistakes, poor choices, and stress—we attempt it anyway. Maybe it’s just too tempting. Workers who use computers during the day change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour. Being in a distractible setting sets us up to be more distractible. Or maybe it’s the high. Media multitaskers actually experience a thrill with switching—a burst of dopamine—that can be addictive. Without it, they can feel bored. For whatever the reason, the results are unambiguous: multitasking slows us down and makes us slower-witted.”
I’ve found in my business experience that those who brag about doing 20 things at once are typically the ones that struggle most in their business. There seems to be some odd sense of pride taken in doing multiple things at once, but the reality is, multi-tasking is a business killer NOT a business builder. Success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything at once. We only have 24 hours in a day. To paraphrase Keller, it’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have. Cut your tasks from ‘multi’ to one, and you free up a lot of time!
Thinking Big & Bold
What does your ‘To-Do’ list look like? If it’s short, succinct, and bold, you’re in good shape. If it’s a list of 20 things that resemble a ‘chore’ list, you need to refocus.
“Don’t let small thinking cut your life down to size. Think big, aim high, act bold. And see just how big you can blow up your life.”
Here’s a simple exercise (going back to the bakery example): if your to-do list is bake 10 cakes today, create a success list and ask the question ‘how can I get to 20 cakes per day’. Make that your main focus and let that vision drive you. See the difference and how you look at things and what actions you take?
Summary of The ONE Thing
Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur the most difficult transition to make. In my opinion, it’s the biggest reason why so many entrepreneurs close their business within 5 years. The key is to utilize your time and prioritize your tasks based on the ONE thing that will help you grow and succeed. If you need help with that, I recommend buying Gary Keller’s book “The ONE Thing”. It’s certainly helped me and I believe it can help you too!
If you’ve read The ONE Thing, leave any comments or experiences below… we’d love to hear from you and share your experiences with others.