Professional Procrastination: What exactly are you waiting for?
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What Exactly are you Waiting For?

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Guest Blog by: Jordana Megonigal, Co-founder of Flight Path Business Institute

Two of the biggest challenges a small business owner has—and I’m talking about pretty much all of the ones I’ve ever talked to—are prioritization and procrastination. Right off, you’re saying, “Nah, not me. I have my priorities straight.” But hold on just a second.

In real life, a lack of prioritization and procrastination looks a little like this: as a small business owner (and in your case, also a practitioner, most likely), you’re pulled in a million different directions. Staffing and staff issues. Customers (and their issues). Payroll. That problem with the insurance company. Continuing education. Ordering new equipment. Booking a hotel for that conference next week. Dealing with the landlord.

By the time the day is done, you’ve taken another spin around the globe (which yes, feels exactly like a hamster wheel at this point), and have little to show for it. Sure, you’ve solved problems and put out fires, and you’ve probably increased relationships with at least a few clients or patients. But has your business really grown? When you look back tomorrow, will you see that the needle has moved at all?

For most of us, if we’re being 100 percent honest, the answer is a sad, “No, not really.” And that’s not because we don’t care about growth or want it—it’s because when we put it in immediate comparison with the 65,398 things that have to be done now, our own plans take a backseat. In short, we become reactive to the things we can’t control (or should have controlled a long time ago), and not proactive to our real-life goals and priorities.

That new patient referral program? Maybe next week. That video you were going to do to boost your local athletes? Ugh. Try that later, too. In the end, business growth gets put on the backburner, but it’s your stability and profitability that really gets burned. Because I have a hard truth for you: If you don’t prioritize your own business and its growth plan, no one else will. And you know what that means?

If you don’t do it, it ain’t gonna happen.

So how do we stop this hamster wheel? Well, first…stop. Breathe. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help get yourself out of the grind and back into business mode.

Take a break. Nope, not vacation, but a break from the constant stream of busy. That might mean you have to block out time on the calendar as “sick” time, or that you take a full Saturday to go away by yourself and plan. However you need to work it, the goal is the same: get away from the office, away from patients, away from the problems, and use it to vision cast and solve the bigger problems with a clear head and set goals that you plan to stick to.

Stop putting things off. You’ve been wanting to go to that conference for years but can never quite swing it, and eventually you forget why you wanted to go at all. Or, you get a new idea to reach new patients and can’t wait to put it into motion, but then all the “stuff” happens and that great idea turns into a dust gatherer on your mental shelf. Just stop it! There’s an actual business principle that is calling you—the 72-hour Rule. Basically, it boils down to this: if you are motivated toward something but don’t take some sort of action on it within 72 hours of that motivation, you probably never will. The reason? After 72 hours, you’ve already made up enough excuses that tell yourself it’s not really that important—if it was, you’d get on it. Its’ true for diets, it’s true for cleaning the gutters, and it’s true for business. Don’t be that guy. If you want to move the needle forward, learn how to take decisive action and get stuff done.

Get an accountability team together. This team doesn’t have to be super structured, but it does have to include people that will call you out if you start spinning on the hamster wheel again. It could be a peer, or a spouse, or friend, or an employee—but have one or two people who know you, know your goals (that means you’re going to have to share), and will promise to hold you accountable to meet them.

Fill the gaps. Don’t know much about accounting? Hire a really good accountant—one that won’t just do your books but will also educate you about what it all means. Need to beef up your leads for new patients? Hit a local conference or online seminar just about sales or marketing. Have a question about new compliance laws? Find an expert and see if you can get some advice. Bottom line: as a small business owner, you don’t have to be all things, but you are still responsible for all things. Filling your gaps to make sure all areas are covered by good people who know what they are doing (even if they aren’t you) is a great step toward growth.

Jordana is a small business owner and founder, consultant and COO of Flight Path Business Institute, which helps small businesses get off the ground and grow. You can email her at [email protected] or catch her at one of Flight Path’s upcoming JetPack events.