Start-up Confidential: JFDI school of management – not so bad after all…

Stop making excuses and do it! How’s our secret start-up doing since being put on the naughty step in a bid for better self-discipline?

Ask an entrepreneur what they see as the best thing about running their own business and you are likely to get similar answers: freedom, autonomy, proving your ideas are better than someone else’s – normally the people you used to work for.

I’d agree with all that. As a business owner I am entirely free from a range of tedious timewasting activities I had to do as a leader in my old business.

No days spent knocking up monthly reports which never made a difference to the success of the business. No endless rounds of internal emails. And glory be! No having to put up with people who were underachieving and only still in the business because the person at the very top wouldn’t countenance even a conversation about letting them go.

But after a year running my own business I realise autonomy isn’t always the friend of the entrepreneur. The reverse of having the choice of spending time doing the things I love and enjoy, means you can also make the decision to bump the things I find tedious to the back of the queue.

So returning from the Easter break I implemented a highly unfashionable JFDI performance management regime on myself. It’s a deliciously simple scheme which consists of:

  1. Writing the actions for each area of the business which need to happen each month: finance, marketing, sales, clients and people
  2. Prioritising them
  3. Marking out the ones which I would enjoy and the ones which I would find tedious but knew were important
  4. Creating weekly targets and allocating specific time slots when I would do them
  5. Most importantly, creating a new rule of always ensuring I do the dull stuff before the things I enjoy. Every day.
  6. Doing any actions I have missed in a new Sunday evening “JFDI slot”.

I’m still getting used to it, but the JFDI approach is already paying dividends. As an example, instead of starting the day with the creative social media, blogging and online marketing tasks I need to do, I quickly research and find two new prospects, send intro emails and add them to the marketing list for follow-up.

I am also finding the prospect of having a mountain of dull tasks to on a Sunday evening is a powerful motivator to get them off the list early in the week – sometimes there is nothing like the naughty step to help change behaviour.

The JFDI approach hasn’t just speeded the pace in which I get things done, it has made me find better ways of doing them: from hiring a new specialist for some of the time-consuming client work to lining up part-time marketing support to keep the new business machine purring.

The JFDI school of management may not get the best out of your teams, but every entrepreneur has to recognise that autonomy can be their worst enemy. Sometimes it pays to just f*cking do it and stop making excuses.

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