Running a small business can be challenging. Throw in the ever-evolving demands of remote work, schooling, and childcare, and it can feel downright impossible. With multiple demands on our time, it’s no wonder we end up feeling overwhelmed.
We can get so caught up working in our business that we lose sight of the need to work on our business. This is why so many small business owners are already behind on their goals by the end of the first quarter.
As 2020, a year of world-shifting events, threw so many into a panic about how to stay on track with business progression, I made the decision to pivot and not pause.
The most important thing I do to manage my business is the prioritization of my weekly plan. The concept, established by Brian Morin and Michael Lennington in their book, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, is designed to increase productivity and avoid the pitfalls of annualized thinking.
Most people work in the context of annual goals and plans; a twelve-month execution cycle. Instead, the 12 Week Year seeks to redefine a “year” to be 12 weeks long. In 12 weeks, there just isn’t enough time to get complacent, and urgency increases and intensifies.
As a certified trainer in this methodology, I use it to help other business owners to reduce overwhelm and create focus, clarity and productivity.
Avoiding the pitfalls of annualized thinking
There are three primary components that help make the 12 Week Year such a game-changer for small business owners. They include scheduling key critical actions for the week, weekly accountability meetings, and scoring effectiveness.
Here is what that looks like for me:
1. Prioritize the week ahead
I spend 15 minutes every Friday prioritizing the week ahead. I draw the actions I have previously identified as the key critical tasks to achieve my goal, and I build them into my schedule. I recognized these tasks are my ‘big rocks,’ my revenue-generating actions. These are non-negotiables I need to complete to move my business forward, and everything else fills in around them.
2. Review the effectiveness of your week
I also spend 10 minutes reviewing my effectiveness for the week. Did I do what I committed to do? Are my key critical tasks having the impact I expected? We can be so quick to blame and change the plan when often. It isn’t the plan that needs tweaking, but our commitment to action. If I am consistently doing what was planned and not seeing results, then I go back to review and adjust the plan.
3. Start every Monday with an accountability call
Every Monday, I start my week with an accountability call with a group of three other business owners. During this call, we share our actions score for the last week, our YTD progress on our goal, and our intention for the coming week, as well as any potential roadblocks to mitigate. It isn’t a brainstorming session, just a quick 20-minute meeting to share accountability. Spoiler alert: Accountability is ownership of our choices.
Create a ripple effect of business results
As a result, I spend 45 minutes every week focused on these three tasks, but the ripple effect impact is exponential. I can be focused on present tasks, knowing I have created non-negotiable time to work on my goals. The worry of “when will I fit it in” is gone!
Sharing plans with peers keeps us accountable, makes us more motivated, and more likely to achieve our goals. That makes my weekly accountability call one of my most important meetings of the week. How many times do you want to show up to a meeting with your peers to report you only got done 30% of the key actions you’ve committed to? It can be the swift kick of motivation we all need at times to keep on track.
“With the increase in demands for my time and energy over the last year, having an effective goal-pacing process I can rely on has made all the difference.”
It is essential for small business owners to carve out time for themselves to work on their business, not just in it. If 45-minutes of my work week can lead to ambitious results, I am more than happy and wholly dedicated to making the time.
If you want to implement the 12 Week Year method, start with three key questions:
- What are your biggest challenges, right now? Are they new or have they been an ongoing issue?
- What is one thing, based on your current challenges, you can act on, moving you toward your greater vision or goals?
- Consider who vs. how: Is this something that needs to be actioned by yourself, or can (and should) it be delegated to a team member, new hire, or outsourced?
Too often we get stuck figuring out the how, when as business owners it is our role to define the vision and empower our team to act. This keeps us focused on our leadership roles, working on key critical activities to move business forward, and prevents us from becoming a bottleneck.
The 12 Week Year methodology offers a way to achieve more productivity than before. It is a repeatable process, and most of all, it is a successful process. We all like success, let’s achieve more of it, faster.
Cheryl Himburg is the owner of Key Element Solutions, empowering women professionals, leaders and business owners to shatter their glass ceiling and achieve ambitious results. Cheryl is an ambitious coach for your personal success and an accomplished catalyst for your career or business growth. A certified mindset and leadership coach, Cheryl leverages her corporate experience and training as a certified NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) Practitioner to empower her clients to go beyond baseline goal setting, to remove barriers, and conquer limiting beliefs. Your next level requires the next level of you. You don’t have to get there alone.
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