For me, one of the biggest challenges of starting an online business is that so many successful entrepreneurs make it sound easy. They share big numbers like, “I got 1000 subscribers in 24 hours” or “I made $4,670 in my second month of blogging,” or “I went from 2,000 to 200,000 visitors a month on my site in less than a year.”
These entrepreneurs usually have great intentions. They show you their amazing results because they want to help you get there, too. But here’s the reality: Running a business is complicated. It’s impossible to boil down success to a single strategy. And a strategy that works for one person’s business won’t necessarily work for you.
After studying online business success stories for the past year, I’ve realized that even before implementing strategies, successful business owners are doing something different from the rest of us. They’re managing their time ruthlessly using the following framework.
- They set clear goals, so they know how they should be spending their time.
- Then they prioritize, ensuring that they finish the right projects as quickly as possible.
- And finally, they focus solely on those goals, without letting distractions pull them away.
These three habits are awesome precisely because they aren’t a one-off strategy that only worked for one person. Instead, these habits are a framework that can help anyone grow a business.
To illustrate these habits in action, let’s take a look at Mariah Coz’s planning system.
Mariah is the founder and CEO of Femtrepreneur.co, a multi-million dollar company that helps women start and grow online businesses.
Mariah is incredibly transparent about her struggles, her successes, and her planning process, which is why it’s so easy to analyze her system. In blog posts, on her podcast, and in a recent workshop she hosted, she talks about how she plans for her business and how focusing on one project at a time has helped her grow her business quickly.
Let’s take a look at how she gets it all done.
She Prioritizes Projects With the Highest ROI
Mariah is open about the fact that she wants to do a million different things for her business. That’s one of the trickiest parts of running business, right? You wake up each morning so excited to work that it’s hard to stay focused on just one goal.
Back to Mariah: She acknowledges that she wants to do a million different things, but, what sets her apart from the rest of us is that she doesn’t actually try to do it all.
She starts her planning process with a brain dump, where she lists all the potential projects she could do in a year.
And then she does something that a lot of us forget to do.
Here’s how she does it:
She thinks critically about each potential project, using eight criteria to assess and compare the potential projects.
Her eight criteria all boil down to one critical point: Do the work that gets you results as quickly and easily as possible.
Here’s an example:
If you can write an ebook in two weeks with the skills and resources you currently have, you’ll be setting up a new income stream that can work for you in the background while you tackle other projects.
On the other hand, if it takes you a month to start a podcast because you need to buy recording equipment, learn how to produce and edit a podcast, and book guests, then starting a podcast should not be your top priority. In fact, if you don’t have a revenue plan for your podcast, then it might never be a priority.
From experience, Mariah has learned that she needs to prioritize the highest yield tasks because her time is a limited resource.
As a solo blogger or business owner, time is your biggest limitation, too. You can always make more money, but you can’t add more hours to your day.
Those projects that all felt equally important and fun and interesting to you? Well, some of them are going to be more effective for your business than others. It’s your responsibility as a business owner to identify those high yield projects and work on them first.
Follow Mariah’s lead: Be ruthless, and prioritize projects that you can complete and send out into the world quickly.
She Focuses On One Project At a Time
After Mariah chooses her top priority projects, the projects that will have the biggest ROI for her business, she schedules each project into a calendar.
And here’s where it gets interesting: Mariah (and her team) only work on one project at a time.
The idea of working on ONLY one project at a time feels scary and ineffective, but Mariah emphasizes that focusing on one project at a time has literally changed her entire business.
“This is how our team gets so much done,” she said.
In the past, Mariah admitted, she would multitask and work on several different projects at once. But “trying to multitask meant that nothing got done.”
Focusing on a single project at a time? That’s how she gets results.
To recap, here’s what Mariah does:
1. She prioritizes.
She intentionally works on projects that will get her results as quickly and easily as possible. And she says no to everything else.
2. She focuses.
She works exclusively on a single project until she finishes it.
In sum, she has rockstar time management skills. Time management is about using your time effectively so that you get the important stuff done. And I think we can all agree that Mariah gets the important stuff done.
“That’s it?” you’re probably wondering. “Then why is it so damn hard for me to get the right stuff done?”
Well, it is hard! Mariah is the first to admit that it takes immense discipline to prioritize and focus. Remember, she wants to do a gazillion different things with her business. But she doesn’t.
And she used to multitask, thinking it would help her be more productive. But it didn’t.
If you’re committed to growing your business, then you need to prioritize and focus.
Time management isn’t about how much time you have free, but how effectively you use that time.
If you’re ready to grow your business intentionally, sign up for my free time management mini course. This 5-day email course will help you set effective goals, prioritize, and stay focused. Plus, each lesson takes less than 10 minutes to implement, so you’ll be a time management rock star in no time!