Focus on the Inner Business


As an entrepreneur, I feel like I am always thinking about my business. That does not necessarily mean I am focusing on the correct things though. Since I am a sole-proprietor, I take on many roles. Those roles require my focus to be in several different places – normally all at once. It is always a challenge for me to allocate time for both project work and the internal work of my business. Since the customer is waiting and paying, project work seems to often take priority.

Focusing on the internal business can seem daunting at times. There never seems to be a shortage of to-do’s, from writing a blog post to paying quarterly taxes to creating marketing materials. It actually seems easier to stick with the project work sometimes!

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I started using a simple model to keep track of the internal workings of my business. Of course, I created a template to help me simplify the inner business. Each category is equally important and they all rely on one another.

Sometimes it can be painful to look at business finances – especially in the early phases of starting a business. BUT you need to know where you stand financially, so you can plan for tomorrow and feel secure in today. Even if its simple tasks such as following up on an unpaid invoice or budgeting for a new color set of your favorite markers (they were so pretty, I had to get them!)

Having a great product or service is only half of the equation. The other half is putting it into the hands of potential customers. If they don’t know about you, how can they buy from you. This category is a challenge for me which means I normally have a long list of to-do’s in it!

Operations is really about the processes and resources necessary for you to do your work. Do you need new software or equipment? Are you clear on your processes? Is everyone else? How many people does it take to run your business and what are their roles? What are the day-to-day tasks that need to happen to keep you in business? List them all here!

Core values, goal planning, mission statements,  Oh My! If you aren’t clear on the direction your business needs to go or what it stands for – how can you hire new employees, project financials or even sell your product/service?! The answer is: You can’t. Being very clear about your business strategy is a key to success.

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Try out this free template and Get.To.Work – on your inner business!
Leave a comment and let me know how its working for you.

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Stop the Octopus Mind

OctopusMind - EmilyMarko.comI am so amazed and fascinated by the complexity of our brains. One moment, my thoughts can be at a stand still and the next, I am drowning in endless thoughts. Most likely neither occurs when I need it to! Three ‘clock in the morning seems to be a perfect time for my brain synapses to go off like fireworks – each one sparking a new tangent of thought. Yet, when I have a block of time reserved for idea generation – my mind is blank or more accurately so overwhelmed it just shuts down.

It ends up that short-term memory can only hold a small amount of information – around 7 items at one time. As thoughts pop into our mind, memory starts to fill up quickly so older information gets “deleted”. The cool thing is if the important information is repeated enough times, we can transfer it to our long-term memory. The key is to be sure it is etched in there so the same thought doesn’t take up space in short-term.

Have you ever felt like there are just too many things that need remembered, but think it can be dealt with later? You made it important enough, but Later might not be so ideal – remember the three o’clock wake up I mentioned. I call this the Octopus Mind – the thoughts become out of control and start to overwhelm you.

I have learned to stop the Octopus Mind by acknowledging the thought. By doing this the thought is given a place to store in your long-term memory so short-term can be freed up.

Try it some time, when your brain seems full grab a piece of paper and start writing down all the thoughts. Once you get those down, you may notice even more new thoughts are coming in. I say keep it coming until you can’t think of anything else.

Works every time for me. I actually keep a sketchbook on my nightstand so I can easily capture what I am thinking and get back to bed.

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Is there a certain time of day you struggle with an Octopus Mind?
How do you keep track of all your thoughts?

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Time to Simplify

Simplify -

The morning after I dropped my daughter off at college, I woke up and completely de-cluttered and organized my bedroom. I spent a good hour constructing a divider system out of an old shoe box so I could fit pens, nail files, chap sticks, etc. in a container. Then I tackled my jewelry for another 3+ hours, sorting into Fix, Keep or Sell piles. I searched for how to’s on creating a sliding knot so I could fix a necklace my son made me. I cleaned and organized my jewelry to keep or sell. I did not talk. I did not think. I just focused on the simple task of putting my room in order and finishing a few tasks I meant to do – one day.

I didn’t stop there though. I tackled the back yard and garage before the weekend was over. It wasn’t a planned thing, my body sort of went on this auto pilot cleaning spree. I definitely had a long to-do list with higher priorities. But some how I knew I HAD to simplify as many ways as possible and as quickly as possible. As much as that weekend was a physical space, it was also very much about my head space.

The week leading up to my daughter’s move-in day was chaotic, trying to balance my workload, her list of to-do’s and the elephant in the room – my little girl was now a young adult leaving to begin her own life. How was I going to deal with that?! Ha! Well I just ignored the elephant! I knew it was not a wise decision, but I was concerned I couldn’t just cry this out quickly and be done with it. It was too overwhelming and big – sort of like the mess piling up in my garage was.

So it all hit me after the big day. Somehow though, by reducing the “stuff” in my home I also reduced the uncomfortable feelings I had about my daughters departure to college and how this would transform our household. Not only was my physical space simplified, but my mind was quieted that weekend.

I mentioned my big purge weekend to Kelley of Fern&Edge and she confirmed the power of a clear and simplified space. And she got me thinking about what was next on my Simplify List. I have been struggling with sticking to my work schedule. I actually find myself using my laptop at my dining room table most days. Maybe because my office is looking more and more like a storage unit these days? With the transition from summer to school and missing his sister, my son’s behavior has been less than ideal. He has slept in my daughter’s vacant room most nights – because he misses her or maybe because it is quite possible a Lego bomb exploded in his room, seriously.

So it is time to simplify some more physical space and head space.

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What is on your Simplify List?

Have you found a connection between your physical and mental space?

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