If entrepreneurs were professional athletes, they would be golfers on the PGA tour. Unlike in other sports, in golf there is no coach, no owner, and the responsibility falls squarely upon the shoulders of the individual golfer. The same is true for you. Sure, you may have advisers (in golf, a caddy and a swing coach), but at the end of the day, as President Truman famously instructed via a sign on his desk, “the buck stops here.”
You’re thinking, so what?! What do golf and Harry Truman have to do with my business? The answer is quite simple: you’ve got to make decisions and come up with answers yourself! Truman famously ditched some of his closest advisors and generals during his presidency, and pro golfers are notorious for ignoring their caddies and going with their gut while on the course. In business, you’re basically a solo act with regard to accountability and decision-making.
Conference Yourself In!
Okay, that makes sense. But, how do you come up with your own answers? Well, you have a meeting with yourself! Here are five tips to help you do this:
1. Set a Serious Schedule. Sure, you stay on track and are true to your word with regard to appointments – you’re an entrepreneur and you’re driven to succeed! However, you may be quick to dismiss your own meetings. But, you need to treat these meetings as though they are set in stone. Choose a schedule that works for your busy life. If you think you don’t need a constant check-in, do monthly or quarterly meetings. Some of you may need more rigidity – if that’s the case, do a weekly or bi-weekly meeting. Hold it at the same time and on the same day if possible, as this will force you to establish a routine and adhere to your schedule. Also, throw it on your Google or physical calendar to ensure that you treat it like a real meeting. The idea of these meetings is to give you some time to evaluate the state of your business. Such an important consideration shouldn’t be taken lightly, so treat the meetings with yourself in an equally serious manner.
2. Prepare and Try to Impress…Yourself! Treat the meeting as though you are an employee and you’re presenting to executives. Preparation is key for a self-meeting, as you should have clearly defined goals that you want to accomplish during the allotted time. You should create a slideshow, have and take notes, and, this one may make you roll your eyes, talk out loud about the given topic – talking to yourself can actually positively affect your thought process. If you write things out and articulate your thoughts, you may get some clarity about a nagging issue with billing or determine a better way to market your product or service. Track your progress throughout the meeting and then write down some takeaways and things to work on – do this while the ideas are fresh in your mind. Be official about the proceedings and your results will surprise you.
3. Get a Room! To stick with the theme of being official, get a space in which to hold your meeting! It may seem strange or even silly to get a room for a meeting with yourself, but this will help you focus and enhance your productivity. It doesn’t have to be a meeting room, but you should hold the session in complete isolation. If you are able to get a room, use all tools at your disposal. Run a slideshow on a projector, use a whiteboard to take notes and illustrate points, and move around the room. You should be sitting when writing notes or pondering the takeaways, but you should be on your feet when presenting or brainstorming aloud, as we all sit too much anyway.
4. Ignore Time and Other People. The best part about running your meeting is there’s no one there to make it drag on longer than is required. You don’t have to deal with that one person in your office who makes quips at every moment or who goes on and on when taking a tangent. Sure, those are fine in a general meeting from time to time, but this is meant to be a productive exercise. Turn off your phone, log out of your email, and remove all distractions – tell employees that they cannot bother you unless it’s an emergency. Once you’ve started the meeting, ignore time (unless you have a pressing matter or meeting shortly after this time period), and follow the schedule point by point. Put the watch away, turn your phone over, and don’t look at your computer’s clock. When you’ve exhausted all discussions and covered all of the points, simply bring the meeting to the end. Don’t worry about the time in which it took to hold the meeting. Many meetings go on for much longer than needed, while some are too short to truly accomplish anything.
5. Consider a Trip or Making it a Destination Meeting. If you really want to get a lot accomplished, and have funds to take a short trip, make it a destination meeting. Whether you’re single, married, or have a family, take a brief weekend trip. Just make sure you have some time for yourself – make sure everyone knows that this is partially for pleasure, but mostly for business! Many of the great minds in history came up with some of their best ideas while away from their normal surroundings: Hemingway and Fitzgerald came up with ideas for novels while traveling around Europe, Newton pondered gravity while taking in his gardens, Edison and Ford came up with new business ideas in their neighboring vacation houses in Florida, and Richard Branson takes inspiration vacations to stoke his creative fire. If you’re relaxed and at ease, a great idea or a new take on an old process may come to fruition for you.