Guest Post by Becky McCray
How you spend your time tells everyone what is important to you. When you are your own boss, and maybe even the only one in the outfit, no one tells you when to or how to focus on the most important things. Focus is a do-it-yourself project.
It takes time to develop this skill. It takes all alone, no interruption time. An hour a week would make a huge difference. But an hour a week sounds hard, when you already are working 50 to 60 hours a week, like many farmers and ranchers.
Where can you find the time? Pick one day per week, and
- Use your lunch break,
- Use your windshield time in the tractor or pickup
- Hire or bribe someone to stand in for you for an hour, or
- Give up an hour of evening TV or internet
How do you spend the time? Here are five tasks you can work on during your precious focus time.
- Set a clear vision. Know what results you want from your operation. How so you want it to look in 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years?
- Pick one skill to improve. What’s one thing, that if you were better at it, would definitely improve your bottom line? Spend your hour reading and studying. Not surfing the internet looking for something about it. Do the surfing and searching in advance. Spend your focus hour studying.
- Take a hard look at the numbers. Most farms and ranches keep good numbers, but seldom review them. Take this time to ask those hard questions.
- Decide which tasks you should do personally, which you can delegate. What do you do that uses your unique talents and assets? These are the ones for you to keep and focus on. Delegate some of the other tasks. It takes time to set up effective delegation. If you have other people in your operation, invest the time to make it possible for them to take on more of the “other” tasks.
- Stop doing some tasks. Spend some of your thinking time to make some careful choices. Ask, “what would happen if I just didn’t do this?” Think through the consequences, and give up some things.
If what’s important to you is revealed by your calendar, then isn’t improving your operation’s business worth on hour of focused time per week?
Becky McCray shares more lessons useful for rural business in the new book, Small Town Rules, written with Chicago entrepreneur Barry Moltz. She also owns a liquor store and cattle ranch in Northwest Oklahoma, and is a recognized expert in small business and social media. She publishes the popular website Small Biz Survival, on small town business, and she and Sheila Scarborough co-founded Tourism Currents to teach tourism professionals new ways of marketing their destination. Her professional life is clearly an example of Small Town Rule #3: Multiply Your Lines of Income.