Business owners have a lot on their plate. It's hard to stay focused on strategy and long-term goals when the daily firefighting distracts you on an hourly basis. As a product owner, I face the same problem. It reminds me of the adage "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," except I like to chant "Don't let the urgent be the enemy of the important."
To make sure my day includes things that will help my business's long term goals, I made a list of five things I strive to do every day.
Here's my daily business checklist:
- Think like my customer
- Look at my key business metrics
- Read or listen to customer feedback
- Talk to someone on my team
- Imagine being my customer
I know, numbers 1, 3 and 5 are all really similar. Maybe my list should be three things a business owner should do every day, but I think understanding my customer is worth mentioning at least three times, because it is far more important than any other thing I do. In a business that sells services, knowing how your customer feels, thinks, and experiences your service is the best way to ensure you are doing the right things.
My other two points are also important, but more internal-facing.
First, business metrics.
When I first heard that phrase many years ago, I pictured Wall Street analysts poring over annual reports, but I have come to see that ‘metrics’ are just a way to measure progress. When I draw my child’s height on the doorjamb, I’m tracking a “metric.” In a business context, it’s important to look at the important ones for your business every day.
Maybe that is how many new customers you got this year, or how many sales calls you made. Possibly it’s the average time each customer issue took to resolve. However you measure your business, you should look at that measurement every day. That way, if it’s moving in a direction that’s negative, you can work to correct it quickly.
Secondly, talk to someone on your team.
...and I mean talk, not email. Personal check-ins are vital to knowing how business is doing. It’s not a number, like the business metric, but the mood of your employees can give you an early indicator of the mood of your customers. If your employees are unhappy, the next thing you know, you’ll see your metrics starting to dip too. Asking how someone’s day is going is also an easy way to make employees feel valued and connected to their company.
I hope my list is useful to you in staying focused every day on five quick things that will impact your long-term business!