After I got out of the hot tub at 8:30 the other night, I noticed the water level was a little low. Since the hot tub is on the patio, it’s easy to refill right from the outside hose. So I dutifully trotted over to the hose, dragged it to the hot tub, and started topping it up. It takes a long time for the hot tub to fill, so I left it running and went inside to watch an old movie.
At 10:30 PM, I poked my head outside to call the cat for its dinner. Yikes! The hot tub was over-flowing!
So there I was in my soaking-wet pajamas, bucket in hand, bailing out the hot tub at 10:30 on a cool Spring evening. All I can say is thank goodness I live in the countryside; the only ones laughing at my escapades were the skunks and the possums.
I find when I do something really, really stupid, it often has a bigger message. After I dried myself off, I asked myself, “What is this trying to tell me?”
The pattern I found, not just for myself but for a surprisingly large percentage of my clients that week, was that we were all ignoring the basic watch-dogging that needs to happen when you run a business. Things like balancing checkbooks, looking at monthly profit-and-loss statements, reviewing website statistics, planning for marketing campaigns – we were too busy with what was happening “in the moment” to pay attention to business basics.
There’s nothing wrong with being present in the moment. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable to be full present and conscious to what you are doing. As a small business owner, you also need to be paying attention to the future, while simultaneously looking at the bottom line statistics that tell you how you are doing. It’s a lot of hats to juggle, but NOT paying attention to all these details can be fatal to your business.
So what’s a business owner to do? Find some way to remind yourself of upcoming events and monthly tracking. I created a two-fold system for myself. First, I put a monthly recurring appointment in my Outlook calendar to look at my finances and statistics. Second, I write out all the steps to a project, from concept creation to marketing, and keep that checklist handy so that bits of the project don’t get lost in the zeal of creation. I also share this project plan with my assistant so that she can help keep me on track.
Don’t wait until you spring a leak to discover that you aren’t paying attention to all the details. Write them down and refer to your list often so that you can stay on top of things.
And never leave a hose running into a hot tub. It’s a sure-fire setup to a night of bailing out water!