Below you’ll find an unedited chapter from my upcoming book 40 Rules for Internet Business Success. To receive updates about the book and get a free digital copy of my book in its current form, enter your email address in the sidebar to the right.
A few years back, I became friends with another entrepreneur named Mark. He did a great job of building vertical news websites similar to some of the sites that I’ve built like American Banking and Market News. If you didn’t look too closely, it would be easy to think that the websites he built and the websites I built were produced by the same company. Although we had very similar businesses at the time, he was never able to gain the traction that my company had. For a while I couldn’t figure out what the difference between our two companies was, then I saw how Mark used his time. Whenever I chatted with him on Skype and asked him what he was working on, he would tell me that he was doing things like working on a logo, trying out different plug-ins on his websites, moderating comments or working on the formatting of his articles. Mark did everything himself and spent a lot of time working on his business, but his time wasn’t well spent at all. Instead of focusing on the core components of his business that that caused his company to generate income, he regularly got distracted by ancillary tasks that weren’t directly tied to generating revenue. He also never put together a team or created systems to help run his business more efficiently. While he was spending a lot of time working, he was never that productive because he was working on the wrong things.
Productivity and busyness are not the same things. In this context, busyness is spending time working on your company without regard to what you’re actually accomplishing. Productivity is completing specific tasks that bring you closer to accomplishing your business goals. You must use your time wisely, leverage software and create a team to be truly productive in your business. There are some weeks that I may do as little as 20 hours of actual work, but that doesn’t mean I’m not moving forward in my business. I rely heavily on software automation and my team members to conduct the day-to-day operations of my business. I work on identifying specific tasks that will move my business forward and have my team members execute on those tasks. I also use software tools to automate regular and repetitive tasks. For example, I use ManageWP to automatically update WordPress and related plug-ins on my websites instead of manually running updates on each site. Instead of keeping track of individual revenue and expense items, I use software to automatically compile and categorize transactions from Stripe, PayPal and my bank into a book-keeping system so that I always know how much money my company is or isn’t making without having to manually put reports together.
Focus on Key Revenue Generating Tasks
In order to make sure that you stay focused on the activities that matter the most in your business, take the time to identify the specific tasks in your business that are directly tied to generating revenue and spend the majority of your time on those tasks. In other words, what tasks needs to happen in order for your company to make money? The tasks that are most closely tied to revenue generation will vary depending on what type of Internet business you start, but they will certainly include key marketing and sales activities as well as product delivery and support. If you knew the vast majority of your new customers would come from referrals from your existing customers, you would make sure to spend a lot of time working on collecting referrals even if it meant some other less important things didn’t get done. For GoGo Photo Contest, we know that the activities that are most closely tied to revenue generation are bringing awareness about our product to animal shelters, helping shelters that have expressed interest in our contest setup their contests and educating the shelters we partner with how to promote their contest well. There are a lot of other things we could spend our time doing, but as long as we do those three things well, we will have made money. It’s okay to let little bad things happen around the edges of your business. Nothing bad is going to happen if you forget to moderate the comments on your blog or if you don’t get around to tweaking your website’s design. Don’t do peripheral tasks well at the expense of doing you key revenue generating tasks poorly.
Eliminate Distractions When Working
When you’re working on completing a specific task, make sure to stay focused. You will be able to get twice as much work done if you focus on completing a single task at a time and removing all potential distractions. You can get rid of distractions by putting your phone on silent, turning off email notifications and closing programs that are likely to interrupt your work such as Skype. You might also consider using a program that will prevent you from accessing social media sites for a set period of time like Anti-Social (www.anti-social.cc) or LeechBlock (addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/leechblock/) so that you won’t be tempted to take a quick break to check Facebook or Twitter. If you want to measure your productivity and set goals for avoiding distractions, consider using a service like RescueTime (www.rescuetime.com) which will monitor your computer use and tell you what programs and websites you spend the most time on. RescueTime will tell you the hard truth about how much of your computer time you’re actually working and how much time you’re spending playing games or on Facebook and Twitter.
Improve Productivity with the Pomodoro Technique
Consider using the Pomodoro Technique if you’re having a hard time staying focused or motivating yourself to work on your business. The Pomodoro Technique is a simple system that will enable you to do short sprints to get work done while mitigating distractions and burn-out. To use the Pomodoro Technique, identify one thing that you want to get done. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on nothing but that task until the timer rings. When the timer rings, take a five minute break to clear your mind and repeat the process over again. After you’ve gone through four Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break so that your brain can recharge. This system will help you stay focused because you know you have a break coming up at the end of twenty-five minutes and you are scheduling time to clear your mind in between sprints of working. To learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, visit www.pomodorotechnique.com.