I’ve been in business for something like 30 years and I’m yet to meet a successful business owner who hasn’t at some time found themselves stuck in a rut and not been able to figure out why.

You probably know what I mean.

There are days and times when despite your every best intention to be organised, focused, productive, engaged and right on your business game, things go kind of pear shaped and you hit a workflow brick wall.

You find yourself:

    • Getting bogged down and overwhelmed with too much to do and seemingly not enough time in the day to do it (whoops … there goes that Pilates class you promised yourself after work, the night footy game with your mates or extra time with the kids, or worse still, all three!)
    • At everyone else’s beck and call with expectations on you to look after them and their needs [insert here: problems, wants, issues, challenges] first.  The idea of other people respecting your time seems rather remote.
    • Easily distracted from the things that you know need doing and you should be focused on in your business.  Doesn’t matter what you do, you feel like you have lost your business mojo and keep heading off on a tangent trying to convince yourself you’re being productive while that little guilt trip voice in your head keeps saying, “liar, liar pants on fire”.
    • Feeling like everything’s too hard and going against you. Nothing’s in flow. You’re spending too much time wasting time instead of clearing your head and getting on top of things.  You’re not as productive as you want to be. You haven’t got anyone to talk to about it.  And to top it all off, your technology seems to want to wage a private war with you. The strains of Tim Finn’s  “There’s a fraction too much friction” drift around in your head.
    • Starting but not finishing things. You’re great at the big ideas and kick ass start to new projects and opportunities. But you’re not seeing them through to the finish or implementation. Somehow something goes adrift along the way and you know deep down that soon you’ll be regretting it and asking yourself “what if I’d finished that”.

If you’re starting to squirm a bit right now, don’t worry, you’re not alone. After all my time in business, I’m still a culprit when it comes to some of this.

Let’s face it – building a successful, sustainable small business isn’t all beer and skittles.  In fact, anyone who tells you it is, is probably blowing smoke up their you know what … and likely yours if they are trying to sell you one of their “7 figure magic pill” business cures.

There are plenty of day-to-day challenges, pitfalls and pressures on small business owners to cause them to hit a workflow brick wall and suddenly find themselves stuck in a rut.

My worst one came when my former Import and Distribution business was going through the roof from $7m to $15m in one year … so it really can happen at any time and in any phase of your business growth.

The trick to getting out of the rut you’re in and quickly turning things around to get your workflow back on track is to understand why you are in it in the first place.

Here are 5 likely reasons and a few simple tips to rectify them:

    • You’re not prioritising the work you need to do and eliminating the non-essentials. You’re not saying “no” often enough … “No, that is not a priority”. “No, I don’t need to do that.” “No, that’s not contributing to the business”. And most importantly, “No, my {insert here: pilates, footy, family } time is more important than working back on this task right now”.
    • You haven’t set boundaries and disciplines around your time. Just like life, business happens by default or by design. You’re choosing the former. It’s time to stand up, take ownership of your time and demonstrate your leadership by putting some rules in place. Prioritise time for your work then schedule time for, or with, others … and stick to it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll be right back in control of your time and people around you respecting you for it.
    • You’re working on too many things at once. It’s time to limit yourself to 3 core projects at a time with 3-5 key tasks in each project. Hit each specific task in 45-50 minute distraction free bursts until it is completed. Only take on one task a day so you stay focussed on moving that project forward. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done.
    • Your work environment isn’t working. Whether it’s your workplace itself, the people (or lack of) around you or the tools you are working with, it’s time to make some changes to reduce the friction that’s holding you back. Spend a few dollars and invest in a new computer or someone to sort out your IT problems. Turn off your phone and email and get out of your office on a regular basis to your favourite place for being creative and productive (refer to the point above about prioritising your time). Schedule time to seek out and have quality conversations with people who can contribute to your business, or invest in a business mentor. Get rid of the friction points and watch the workflow wheels start turning again.
    • You’re trying to do everything. You’re doing everything from start to finish instead of focussing on your strengths and the things you do well then handing the project over to someone to complete. It’s easy to fall into that trap in small business, particularly when cash flow is a bit tight. There’s a tendency to battle on trying to do everything yourself to save a few dollars when all you are really doing is wasting time and money, getting frustrated and missing time critical opportunities. With so many high quality, low cost outsourced services on offer these days there’s no excuse for that any more. It’s time to do your bit in a project then hand it over to specialists to complete and implement … while you move on to your next project.

If you are stuck in a rut in your business right now, then it’s time to take stock, identify your biggest blockers and barriers and implement some of these simple strategies to get things moving.

How does that saying go? If nothing changes … nothing will change!

If you know you need to make some changes and want support and accountability to make it happen, CLICK HERE to book a time with me to help you get back on track.

One thing I have learnt over the years is that business growth and profitability won’t happen while  you’re stuck in a business rut.