G’Day FieldInsight peeps. I know you’re still calling us Scheduleflow, but we are FieldInsight now so I will try and use FieldInsight.
Optimism – how much of it do you need?
Running a mechanical services or any field service business has ups and downs, sometimes you nail planning and scheduling and you get a great flow but other times you stagnate.
In the early stages of startups or a small business they require an entrepreneurial mindset. You are always taking risks with small business to get it up and running and then trying to expand and grow.
The well known phases of a small business cover: Start, Run, Grow in to Mature.
In the Start phase you are just getting yourself organised;
- who your customers are and where to find them
- your pricing model
- skills definition
- doing jobs and learning
- costing your services
In the Run phase:
- You are expanding the team – an apprentice or a couple of other skilled team members
- keeping the money turning over
- trying to sort out policies (HR, accounting, purchasing etc)
- Getting a handle on your profit & loss
In the Grow phase:
- Trying to find bigger jobs to charge more
- Hiring more team members
- Looking to partnerships for expansion
- Spending money on finding more customers
- Locking down your expenses to churn a good profit
In the Mature Phase:
- You have been running the business for 10-15 years and its turning a great profit
- You want out to look at the next venture (or retire)
- You may be grooming someone to take the reigns and have the business under management
It’s those milestones you progress through to get in to growth mode and then maturity (when you sell the business) .
You’re in it for the Long Game not the Short Play
You’re invariably hitting multiple types of challenges and hurdles through these phases, in Run you may stumble over the same issues you had in Start but they will have a real impact on your bottom line.
In all phases it is common to get depressed or frustrated or angry when things aren’t going your way. It’s literally the essence of small business and startups.
A good business coach said to me, ‘the nice thing about being in small business and startups is as long as there’s not a disaster you can always get up and start again the next day’
Running a business is like a sports game; there’s no time-out, there’s no 10 punches, there’s no 10 second count or you run out of time.
You might be out, you might be bankrupt, but you can get up and start again, you can always start again. So, normally, hopefully it’s not a knock-out, it’s just a delay, a small delay, a frustration, a loss of momentum.
How to turn it around?
So how do you keep momentum when your emotions are hammered by things not going the way you want them to? Just remember you are actually learning lessons, they’re painful lessons sometimes but invaluable to cultivating success in the future.
My view is it’s actually reliance on a mundane process to actually keep going when things are crap. It requires upfront planning and setting of goals.
People talk about setting goals and you say, “Well, why does that matter? I’ll just work hard and I’ll get there”. The problem with that approach is there’s a lot of randomness to actually what you’re working on and how productive you are.
If you recall a recent posts of ours on maintaining a steady growth trajectory through systemising your job scheduling and job management processes through software.
So, you you start small:
- get better at setting three-month goals
- then try setting monthly goals,
- then weekly goals for you and your team
You need to track those, that way you can plan out your week and ensure you get those tasks into your calendar. Gotta be in your calendar; otherwise you won’t be able to protect those activities you want to work on, those high-value activities, those planning, team-building, leadership, marketing activities.
You have to protect your time
If its not in your schedule – it won’t happen!
In valuing your time it can throw a few people around you off….distractions will come from all areas and its hard to stay focus and not be distracted by the loudest or shiniest thing; ie “I need to talk to you now about ….”; all those people need to know that when you are focusing on an activity/task that is your priority and they can literally ‘take a number and wait’.
You may find more than half of those “I need to talk to you now!” will not need your attention by the time you get around to it (probably because they have learned to take responsibility to resolve). We spoke of employee empowerment in a recent post.
the best matrix of relevance in protecting/valuing you time to complete planned tasks is to use the Eisenhower matrix.
Image courtesy: EISENHOWER, a registered trademark by FTL3
Green: Things to work on that day or Do First
Blue: Schedule it so it gets done in the next week
Orange: Not important – delegate
Red: Dont do it….strike it off
Watch the magic start to happen
If you can build that out the planning to reach 90 days, you will make progress, you will make great progress if you can just stick to your schedule.
It’s like, boring as all hell, you might:
- have a day where nothing goes right and you just feel like you haven’t made progress. Often they’re the days you learn the most.
- You might have a flat day and not get out of bed because for whatever reason you’re on the floor, you’re hungover or you’re a bit injured or whatever.
But having that structure, if in the 90 day plan you will see you had two dud days and
88 days of focus and working on your business, your family, and yourself.
Huge amount of progress.
So as mundane as it sounds, getting your scheduling right for your team, getting your goal-setting right for your company and yourself is at the heart of keeping momentum when things don’t go your way, and they won’t go your way always because that’s the nature of running a business.
Things go pear-shaped, normally when you’re not ready for them and you’re not looking for them but a good plan allows you to get back on track quickly and not have to start from scratch.
Here at FieldInsight we are developing an end to end Playbook on how to run a field service business using software for job and schedule management and these tools will help take you to the next level in growing your business.