Work Fast | Think Slow

There is a growing trend in businesses to work fast.

To work in short sprints. To get tasks over the line and stop them from lingering. The prevalent software development working-practices of ‘sprints’, ‘scrums’ and all things ‘agile’ are starting to spread across other industries. This is good.

I think that there is a lot that other fields of business could benefit and learn from agile working practices.

However, the same principle does not apply to ‘thinking’ about a problem or task and how to solve it.

Work fast – Yes. Think fast – No.

Thinking and doing are two very different animals. Doing can be done fast only if we have invested the time upfront to think it through and plan it.

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes solving it.”

– Albert Einstein

And so this is where the danger lies. Diving into tasks with little forethought. Eager to get the task done. Things can then rapidly start to go awry or even break-down completely. We need to take the time out to think slowly first. To adequately prepare for the task at hand. To have conversations. Determine expectations of all stakeholders. Learn from previous similar tasks. Set deadlines, responsibilities and outputs.

Think slow and then work fast should be the order of the day.

There’s Nothing Like a Deadline to Get the Job Done!

The run up to Christmas always demonstrates how much we can get done when we have a deadline. It’s a bit like when we’re about to head off on holiday and we’re amazed about the amount of work that we can get done when we put our heads down and get to work.

There’s nothing like a deadline to get the job done!

So this makes you think about how important setting a deadline is in the first place. If we did this more often with tasks, then we could get more done in a shorter amount of time, leaving us with more free time to do the things that we want to do.

Work will always fill up our time if left to its own devices.

Parkinson’s Law states that a task will fill the amount of time that you allocate for it. We’ve all experienced this phenomena, right? Where we set to work on a task to complete and it takes a full day (and we just about squeeze it in) then later on that week, we have a bigger task and less time (say a morning) yet we still get this task done. How did that happen…?

Errr, it’s in the deadline.

Whatever time you allocate (assuming that you allocate any time at all…?) then the task will invariably fill it. On the flip side, if you had set up say a couple of hours to get a task done, you would more than likely get it done entirely or at least get the majority of it done within that two hour time frame – as opposed to perhaps a full day or even longer if you let it have an open end.

Maybe that should be our New Year’s resolution –  to set deadlines (hard meaningful deadlines) for every task and to get it scheduled in our calendar with a set amount of time to complete it. We can then have more time to enjoy the finer things in life (but just don’t set a time-limit on those things ;)).

You Just Need To Crunch The Numbers

Sometimes you have a hunch that business isn’t going right. The cash in the bank is not building as it should. Customer numbers seem down. Yet you seem to be adding more staff.

Something just doesn’t feel right….but your intuition usually is right….

At times like this, you just need to sit down and crunch the numbers. 

It doesn’t matter whether you have some fancy software or a pen and paper. All work as well as each other, as long as you set the time aside to work through the figures. To find trends or blockages. Or costs that have got out of kilter. Percentages such as gross profit and net profit allow you to get a handle on how the business is performing. Mapping forward likely revenue (income) and costs helps you see where you might end up…

None of this is rocket-science in running a business but it’s easy to overlook – as you get caught up in the day-to-day running of it.

Tomorrow is a Friday. Take out a pencil and paper and start to jot down your revenue to date and costs to work out your profit (or loss) for your financial year so far. Then take it from there.

Poke. Prod. Challenge yourself and your business to do better over the next 12 months.

Essential Technology Work Tools (Nov 2018)

Here’s our preferred current core ‘technology stack’ at work:

Trello

Trello is our core project management tool.

It has become our central dashboard to running our business. We are power-users at our Firm so we track everything into and via Trello.

All tasks are set up as cards and passed through the Kanban-style workflow process. Boards are linked to other boards so that everything can be seen at the touch of a button.

We know internally where all work is up to, what’s outstanding and what’s been done – all clear from one central dashboard.

Slack

Slack is the ’email-killer’.  It is a great way to communicate both internally and externally with clients (in shared channels).

So much more intuitive and user-friendly than email.

Gmail

When you have to use email, it’s still the best out there.

We just use the normal Gmail client user interface. We’ve trialled different ‘front-ends’ but keep coming back to Gmail primarily due to the add-ons and extensions that can be built in (e.g. into Trello, Slack, Loom etc).

Zoom

The best way of communicating with clients for calls. It can be used both for video and teleconference calls. So much more reliable than Skype. Nice integrations with Google Calendar to set up Zoom meetings directly via calendar invitations too.

There’s a decent free plan.

Loom / Soapbox

Good for quick video screen recordings or short presentations. Both are free in their basic form.

Soapbox is provided via Wistia and is marginally better, but the downside is that you can’t download videos unless you upgrade to their fairly expensive annual subscription.

Cloudapp

Great for quick ‘on-the-fly’ screen-grabs and short GIF demos or how-to explainers. Works well with a Chrome extension and lightening fast.

Zapier

A simply awesome ‘bridge’ to make your favourite apps or online tools (like those above), talk to one another.

Really intuitive, with no coding skills required. Automation at your fingertips. Mind blown…

Which technology tools couldn’t you live without in your business?

Sunday Thoughts: What Tasks Could You Take Away This Week?

As I sit here and plan my week ahead, the list of tasks that I need to complete seems to get longer and longer. Week on week.

We all seem to have ever-expanding “to-do lists”!

So at times like these I think to myself: maybe I need to ask myself a better question… And I came up with this question:

What tasks could I take away this week?

Hmmmm, thinking about what I do in a typical week, I need to consider what tasks I could either: eliminate, automate or outsource/delegate?

Writing down a list of repeated tasks on a piece of paper, I add these three columns with these three titles. And start to allocate tasks between the columns where possible. Already I can see possibilities to free up time.

I recommend you try this for the week ahead. See what tasks you might be able to stop doing altogether or automate (using apps like Zapier and IFTTT) or outsource/delegate.

We can’t keep adding more. We need to explore ways to take tasks away.

Rules to Live By #001

Two things you must never delegate or hand over control in your business:

  1. Managing your bank payments to suppliers etc
  2. Sales and marketing activities

The rest is all fair game to be delegated, outsourced or whatever you care to call it…

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

“The Quality of Your Life is Determined by the Quality of the Questions that You Ask Yourself”

If this quote is true, it begs the question whether we have been digging deep and asking ourselves those powerful questions that might help shape our lives…?

Here are a few to get you thinking:

  1. “Who” not “How”? (don’t try to do it all – find those that already have the skills and hire them)
  2. Do you want to work for your business or do you want your business to work for you?
  3. What are your unique skills? What could you do all day and feel in the flow?
  4. If money was no object, what would you be doing right now?
  5. What is stopping you doing that thing that you answered for Q.4. (hint: it’s probably not solely down to ‘money’)

What are the most powerful questions that you have heard or live by…?

FGB002: Modwenna Rees-Mogg talks raising funding |Crowdfunding | CrowdRating

Fast Growth BusinessWe are delighted to bring you this second episode of the Fast Growth Business podcastthis week we are pleased to welcome as our guest, Modwenna Rees-Mogg, founder of leading private investor news service, Angel News, amongst other entrepreneurial ventures including a new venture aimed at entrepreneurs called CrowdRating.

This podcast is brought to you by ip tax solutions | the innovation tax specialists.

Useful Resource of the Week

Our resource of the week is Rapportive – a useful Gmail extension that brings your social media connections, such as Linkedin, directly into your inbox. It is a good way of keeping in touch with existing contacts and for reaching out to potential new connections…

Guest: Modwenna Rees-Mogg: Angel News | CrowdRating

In this conversation, we cover how Modwenna made the transition from corporate financier to entrepreneur and founded Angel News which brings thought-leadership and insights into the field of private company investment – aimed at both investors and entrepreneurs.

She penned a book on crowdfunding: Crowd Funding: How to Raise Money and Make Money in the Crowd – at a time that was arguably ahead of the curve (much of her forecasts fortunately came true!) – and has she since co-launched a new venture called CrowdRating – the ratings agency for equity crowd funding. This new venture will be of particular interest to founders and entrepreneurs who might be considering raising funding via crowd funding platforms such as Crowdcube.

Modwenna shares her thoughts and views on the private company investing landscape (including SEIS & EIS) plus her view that most founders’ investors might be closer than they think….

You can listen below or access via iTunes.

Seeking your input

Please get in touch with your questions and feedback via Twitter: @iptaxsolutions and/or #fgbpodcast

If you are a UK entrepreneur and would like to share your story, please get in touch as above. Also, if you are involved in advising entrepreneurs on building scalable businesses, we would be delighted to hear from you and to get you involved if you’re the right fit.

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