How to Stay Focused and Grow Your Business
Experiencing a lack of focus in your business? In this guide, we’ll show you how to establish better habits in your routine to help you concentrate. Learn 17 actionable tips for how to stay focused when starting a business.
Having a successful small business takes guts, money and time.
It also requires focus. Something that can be difficult to come by in this day and age of extreme sensory overload.
Distractions are everywhere. This is especially true if you’re working from home. If you struggle with staying focused, every day can feel like an uphill battle of dodging external disturbances that easily steal your attention.
So, how do you stay focused on your business goals? Here are 17 tips for how to be more focused!
17 Actionable Tips to Stay Focused & Grow Your Business
Think of your ability to focus as a muscle. It needs to be trained!
And in order to do that, you’ll need to learn some exercises.
We got together with some of the successful small business owners in our network and on our team to build this list of 17 straight-forward and actually actionable tips to flex that concentration muscle.
1. Clearly Define Your Distractions
First things first, identify the problem.
What are the things that distract you from working on your goals? The ones that you can anticipate at least.
Notifications on your phone? Monday morning street cleaning?
Find the sources of your distraction and write them down.
No really. Making an actual list stops these annoyances from buzzing around in your mind, and puts them down on paper.
Turn your distractions into a to-do list. And as you find specific ways to eliminate them, cross them out.
It’s kind of like defining your target persona. You can’t figure out how your product or service can best serve your customers until you understand their pain points. Figure out your distraction pain points before you try to tackle them!
2. Organize, Prioritize, Optimize
A lack of focus is often the result of a disorganized business. If you’re handling everything (which small business owners often are), it can be difficult to prioritize the activities that will generate growth.
It’s important to first get organized. And you can do this by thinking of your business activities in two categories (keeping in mind, this is very generally speaking):
Administrative activities are the tasks that keep your business afloat. These tasks are things that can likely be automated or delegated.
Growth activities are the tasks that are going to drive your business forward. Marketing outreach, strategizing, collaborations, fundraising, etc. It’s different for every business, but these are some basic ideas.
With these two categories in mind, you can gauge what is most important for your short-term and long-term goals, and begin to prioritize accordingly. Build a schedule that favorably supports this concept.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by planning to accomplish high-priority items at the end of the day, or when you’re not mentally operating at full capacity.
After prioritizing comes optimizing, and that can be done by finding ways to work smarter, not harder. This might mean outsourcing work, delegating, adopting software to automate certain tasks, etc.
3. Automate What You Can
While our phones and devices can be a primary source of distraction, they can also be a huge help when it comes to staying focused. Automation tools are designed to help us work smarter to save time.
Many of your daily activities for your business can be automated. From project management to appointment scheduling, letting a software take over certain administrative parts of your routine can greatly reduce the number of interruptions causing you to lose focus.
Here’s a perfect example. Answering every customer call throughout the day can be disruptive. But of course, you don’t want to risk earning a bad rep for never picking up the phone or missing out on a potential lead.
A virtual business phone system is a great example of a small business automation tool that can make your life a whole lot easier. By setting up an automated phone system to answer your calls and direct them to the right place, you can eliminate the number of interruptions in your day without sacrificing customer satisfaction or losing business.
Other must-have automation tools that we think are crucial to staying focused as an entrepreneur include the following:
Appointment Scheduling Automation
Enable your customers or clients to book appointments straight into your calendar with an appointment scheduling tool like Calendly. This allows you to spend way less time on managing your schedule and more time focused on the important stuff.
Plus, you can set blocks of time during the day that are off-limits for meetings, so you can designate those hours to take care of the things that need your undivided attention.
Organize your projects, set goals, and track your progress with a project management tool like Asana. This is like having a virtual planner with smart features that help you see everything going on in your business from a birds-eye view. The ability to manage all your tasks, projects, goals and progress in one centralized place can make a huge difference in improving your organization and focus.
- Text Automation
Enable your customers and clients to reach you via text. It doesn’t take a mobile statistics report to recognize that modern consumers prefer text. It’s convenient and fast – especially if you have a simple request or question.
Text automation opens up an entirely new way to connect and appeal to your customers, and can help reduce interruptions in your day. Set up auto-responders to answer your customers’ questions and keep them satisfied until you’re able to get back to them with a tool like cloudphone.com.
For more automation tools that can help you save time and improve your focus, check out our blog 13 Must-have Small Business Automation Tools.
And keep in mind, a lot of small business owners think “software” and think “expensive”. But many automation tools and cloud phone services that are designed for small businesses are reasonably priced. Plus, you’ll end up saving money in the long-run when you’re able to stay focused and accelerate your business growth.
4. Set Goals
Yeah yeah, setting goals is pretty ‘Start a Business 101’. But if you’re reading this article in search of some tips to help you concentrate, then maybe you need to revisit your vision board. Besides, it’s always smart to get a fresh perspective on an age-old strategy.
For the sake of this article, let’s rethink the way we’re setting goals from the lens of staying focused. In other words, let’s bring our goals back down to earth a bit.
As new business owners, we have a bad habit of creating schedules and setting objectives thinking we are superhuman! We forget to take into consideration the setbacks that might occur. Stuff happens, right?
We think we’re able to accomplish everything at once, and feel an urgency to make something out of nothing as fast as possible.
So the first thing to remember when setting your goals is to be realistic. By setting achievable goals at first and then building up from there, you’re less likely to fall behind and experience stress – which is a major cause of distraction.
In order to set realistic goals for your business, start with a list and highlight the top 3 items that are most important to your business. And in order to know what is most important to your business, you need to establish your top priorities.
5 EXAMPLE SMALL BUSINESS GOALS – BY QUARTER
- Create and launch 1 inbound marketing campaign.
- Gain 1,000 new followers on social media.
- Increase traffic to your website by 10%.
- Increase income by $1,000 per month.
- Launch a new service, product or offering.
5. Work When No One Else is Online
Wake up early! Early bird syndrome is a shared characteristic among successful people.
This is not only because it’s scientifically proven that we’re most productive in the mornings after we’re well-rested, but also because you’re less likely to be disturbed by calls, emails, or other notifications.
Mornings are great for working on creative tasks that you would put in the “growth” category we mentioned above.
6. Avoid Multitasking
Whatever you do, don’t multitask. Trying to juggle several tasks at once or work on the go is counterproductive.
Multitasking can cause you to take twice as long to complete a task! And it can actively lower your ability to concentrate! Focusing on one task at a time can take a little bit of practice, but it is well worth it.
7. Create a Schedule – and Stick to It
Working for yourself is great, but that means it’s up to you to stay disciplined and vigilant. Sure, there’s no one breathing down your neck, but now you’re the one that has to hold yourself accountable for meeting deadlines.
Setting a schedule for your week is essential to keeping your focus and working towards your goals.
As we mentioned above, the way you set up your schedule should be based on how you’ve organized, prioritized and optimized your to-do’s. Balance your calendar between the priority level of your tasks and your own energy level. Don’t leave something important until the end of the week when you’re already running on fumes.
Balance your calendar between the priority level of your tasks and your own energy level.
8. Tackle the Harder Tasks First
What’s the first thing you do when you start working? Check emails? Respond to Slack messages? Busy work?
Instead of trying to knock out all of your admin tasks first, try to tackle the harder ones when you start your day and leave the more mundane to-do’s for a little later.
Our minds are the most clear, focused and cognitive at the start of the day. That’s when you’re going to have more fuel for higher priority tasks that require more creativity and involved problem-solving.
By tackling a high priority item first, you can avoid wasting your fuel on repetitive busy work.
Again – this is why waking up early is helpful because it allows you to fit in some heavy-lifting early on and still ensure you’re available when the rest of the world clocks in.
9. Batch Your Activities Based On Thinking Style
Another useful tip for how to be more focused is batching your activities based on the cognitive skill required to complete them.
For example, if your to-do’s include writing a blog and a newsletter, try to allocate time to knock both of those items out one after the other. This allows you to stay in the same mental lane and maintain your focus.
The moment you switch gears to another activity that requires a different style of thinking, you lose focus and have to reestablish your concentration.
Get in the zone and stay there by batching like-activities.
10. Skip the TV
Leisure activities like watching TV or scrolling through videos on your phone can greatly affect your ability to focus. Successful people hardly waste their time on mindless pastimes.
In fact, wealthy people spend one hour or less watching TV per day!
Instead, spend your downtime on something more beneficial to your business and overall being. Relax with a good business book that can help you with your goals, or consider taking a course to learn a new skill set!
11. Establish an Accountability Partner(s)
When you’re struggling with maintaining focus on your business goals, enlist the help of others to hold you accountable. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people who are either in the same boat as you, or (even better) seeing the type of success you’d like to achieve can inspire you to work harder.
Join a small business group on Facebook or NextDoor! Or start your own! Host weekly or monthly check-ins at which you’re required to share your progress. This will not only help you make sure you have something exciting to share at each meeting, but it can also foster awesome business relationships that might benefit you in other ways.
12. Leverage the Art of Bartering
As a small business owner, you’re likely working with a limited budget! If that’s the case, it’s time to learn the art of bartering! Trading services is an awesome way to outsource work to save yourself time.
What type of work can you delegate to another small business owner? What can you offer in return? Get creative and don’t be afraid to ask!
13. Quiet the Notifications
This one is a no-brainer. Silence your notifications! Put that nuisance of a smartphone in Do Not Disturb mode and give yourself the peace and quiet you need to get stuff done.
14. Find a Decompression Activity You Like
Decompressing after a stressful day or week is essential to maintaining your mental health, as well as your ability to wake up each day inspired and motivated to push forward.
Starting a business is hard work, but growing your business is even harder! It’s important to find a healthy way to keep yourself in the right headspace.
Meditation is an excellent way to find relaxation and hone your concentration skills. There are tons of great videos on Youtube to help you get started with a meditation routine.
Working out is not only beneficial for your overall health, but can help you stay more focused throughout the day.
Reading, stretching, going for mental health walks. These are all ideal activities for decompressing that won’t have a counterproductive effect on your ability to focus.
15. Try These Known Techniques
There are a number of known techniques, or “work rhythms”, that successful people use to help themselves stay focused and get their work done more quickly. Grab a timer, or use the one on your phone (as long as your notifications are silenced!!) and try these techniques on for size!
Set a timer for 25 minutes. Focus on one thing during that 25 minutes without switching gears. Once the timer is up, take a 5 minute break. Then do it again. After you’ve done several 25-5 minute cycles, reward yourself with a longer break to refresh.
Set a timer and work for a straight 90 minutes. Then take a longer break, maybe an hour or hour and 30 minutes before starting again.
Much like the first two techniques but with this one you work for 52 minutes and then break for 17 minutes.
16. Eat for a Healthy Mind
When you’re running a business with limited resources or help, it’s easy to develop crummy habits – especially eating habits! It’s so easy to put our health on the back burner when trying to get a business off the ground.
But eating for a healthy mind and body is absolutely critical to staying focused and disciplined! If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re more likely to feel fatigued, lack the luster you need to problem solve, and make poor business decisions.
It can be helpful to opt into a meal delivery service, so you can save all your decision making for your business.
17. Don’t Forget to Rest!
Another simple, yet crucial tip for staying focused and improving your concentration capacity. Don’t. Forget. To. REST!
Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep as often as possible can have a direct impact on your business growth. Sleep is one of the most important resources for new businesses that is rarely talked about.
Avoid social events that might keep you out late – even on your days off. Avoid doing anything right before bedtime that might stimulate your brain and hinder your ability to fall asleep. Treat your sleep like it’s literal GOLD!
Being disciplined in the early stages of launching and growing your business will pay off in the long run. Sleep now, build your business now… play later!
Feeling More Focused Now?
Starting your own business is an extreme undertaking. It’s something not a lot of people have the courage to do! So remember to cut yourself some slack. A skill like concentration is one that can be learned, so don’t stress.
When your business is aligned with your values and what you love to do, it’s a whole lot easier to put in the hard work it takes to be successful! So if you’re still struggling to stay focused, maybe it’s time to revisit what you’re trying to build.
We hope that these tips and tricks help you in all your business ventures!
What types of things do you do to stay focused?