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We all have things that have been on our to do list for awhile. Tasks that get regularly delegated to the bottom of the pile. Maybe it’s getting your bookwork up to date, sorting out your taxes, systemising your new client process. Whatever it is, these things are on your list for a reason and they’re probably important (if they’re not delete them and be done with them – too easy!)

So here are my top tips for avoiding procrastination and tackling those big important tasks that never seem to make it to the top of the priority list:

1. Break it down into manageable chunks

“Build new website” is a pretty unmanageable task and the sheer enormity of  it is enough to make you put it off until another day when you have the energy to tackle such a task. But what if instead your to do list said “Ask friends and contacts for web designer recommendations” or “Create list of 10 websites you admire and list the things you like about them”. These are small manageable tasks that you could easily achieve. And that’s all you need to do, keep breaking it down into small tasks that you can easily complete and tick off your list.

2. Just spend 10 minutes on the task

Got a big presentation to prepare or report to write? Tell yourself you only need to spend 10 minutes working on it – just get it started. Getting started is the hardest part, once you’re going you probably won’t want to stop and before you  know if you’ll have knocked off a big part of your task. And even if you only do 10 minutes, at least you’ve started, you may have done the outline or worked out a plan which will help you the next time you sit down to do it.

3. Make the task fun

What can you do to make the task more enjoyable? Got a months worth of receipts to file? Why not crank up the music, make yourself a nice cup of tea (or pour a glass of wine!) and get down to it.

4. Do the big important things first

It’s easy to fill our day with busy tasks. There are always emails to reply to, social media updates to post and a hundred other busy tasks which can fill our day. If we spend an hour or two in the morning to work on the stuff we really want to get done then gradually we will make our way through our important task list. If we wait until we have a spare moment,  minute or hour it may never happen. If you need help avoiding online distractions check out my list of 7 Tools to Increase Your Productivity Online.

5. Phone a friend

Accountability works, find yourself a buddy, tell them what you want to achieve and set a time limit. This works best if you choose someone in a similar position to you who has their own business tasks they need to get done. That way you can motivate each other. Check in at the agreed time and see what each of you has achieved.

6. Reward yourself

Promise yourself a nice reward for finishing certain items on your to do list. Perhaps a walk and a coffee once you’ve phoned 3 clients or a manicure if you get all your bookkeeping up to date.

7. Ask for Help

Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Maybe you’ve been putting tasks off because you really don’t have the skills to do it yourself or you find the process scary and confusing and don’t know where to start. Maybe it’s time for some expert help.

Or perhaps you do have the skills to complete your tasks but you don’t enjoy it, you find it boring and draining and you’d much rather focus your energy on something else. That’s ok too. Perhaps it’s time to outsource some tasks to a virtual assistant, bookkeeper, copywriter or designer?

I hope these tips are helpful in motivating you to tackle those tough items on your to do list. Take action now, choose an item that has been on your list for a long time and decide what tips you will implement to get it done.

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jar of money When I hear people talking in person, online or in the newspaper about the money they make in their business they are nearly always talking about revenue. All these people who mention six figure businesses or $10,000 weeks or $50,000 product launches. 99.5%* of the time they are talking about revenue. Also known as income, sales, turnover. That is the $ value of the sales they have made. Which is great, because revenue is super important. Without strong sales or revenue numbers it is impossible to make a good profit.

And profit is the really important thing. Profit is what you’re left with after you deduct all your costs from the revenue numbers. Profit is the amount of money you take home. Profit is the money you actually make from your business, the money you get to spend on important things like shoes and rent and food (in no particular order!).

And as all business owners know there are many costs incurred in running a business. Expenses like fees paid to your web developer, graphic designer, photographer, accountant, bookkeeper, lawyer. Money you’ve spent on marketing and advertising. The costs of stock or inventory, shipping, storage. Fees for your web host, your software licenses. Money spent on training programs and business coaches.

So what does all this mean for you? A couple of things:

1. Understand that when you hear someone else’s revenue figures that you are not hearing the full story.

You don’t know what it has cost them to achieve that revenue. Is a six figure business a success? Well that really depends what their costs are. Many businesses with high revenue figures come with high costs as well and often you only hear half the story. The sparkly, shiny, really high revenue half!!

2. Understand your own revenue and profit figures.

High revenue is fantastic but you need to factor in the costs as well. What has it cost you to make that revenue? Is it worthwhile? Is your overall profit increasing? You could probably greatly increase your sales with a big investment in advertising but is spending $5,000 on advertising to get $5,000 in additional sales worthwhile? Possibly not. This where you really need to understand your numbers and your marketing return on investment…..but that is a lesson for another day.

And then there is Cash.

Cash is the actual money flowing in and out of your business. Cash receipts from sales made, cash spent on expenses. Sometimes the cash flows through your business at the same pace as sales come in and expenses are incurred. For example if your clients and customers pay you when they place an order then the cash coming into your business is probably equal to your sales revenue. But at other times you might have great sales or revenue figures because you have invoiced a client for a big job but the client hasn’t paid yet so your cash is tight.

Cash is super important because businesses need cash to run. Revenue and profit on paper is nice but if the cash isn’t coming into your business on a regular basis to allow you to pay your bills then its going to be difficult to stay in business even if you have great sales.

In my previous corporate role I often had sales people who were surprised that the company wouldn’t pay them commission on sales to clients who hadn’t paid their bills. “But I sold it” they would protest. The thing is, if a client doesn’t pay, the sale is not worth anything. Pay attention to the cash in your business and if sales are good but cash is tight then you need to look at your processes and policies around cash collection. What can you do to make sure people pay you quicker?

So the moral of the story…..focus on your own business and understand what your revenue and profit numbers are. Look at how you can grow revenue but also focus on what is costs you as all revenue is not equal. And finally watch the cash flow in your business.

*: ok so I made that figure up, but you get my point

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