Do The Hard Stuff First


Last month I attended the Ugurus 10k Denver event. It’s a mastermind group of digital agency owners I joined last year. We meet in person annually and twice monthly online to help each other grow and learn.

My mentor, Jonathan Hinshaw, gave an excellent presentation on getting things done that really stuck with me. He said, “Do the hard stuff first”.

What Is The Hard Stuff?

The answer is different for everyone. For me it’s keeping my sales pipeline full of new opportunities.

The reason it’s hard is because I’m basically a shy person (my close friends are rolling their eyes right now, but it’s true!). Keeping my pipeline full means regular outreach.

Thankfully I have a strong professional network that sends me referrals, but it’s not enough. That means reaching out to total strangers is required to build my business.

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

So I have to get over it. All the time. And it’s hard. I use a CRM tool called Capsule to help me manage my sales process. It’s good to get everything out of email and organized into a trusted system. But that’s not the hard part.

What’s hard is connecting directly with leads I find via LinkedIn and other channels. I avoid it like the plague.

Jonathan would say those are the ones to tackle first. And he’s right. But I find every excuse imaginable to avoid them. Instead I need to feel the fear and do it anyway. But how?

First Things First

It’s all about priorities. No leads = no sales = no income. For any business owner or consultant, keeping the pipeline flowing has to be top on the list.

Because it needs to be first and I keep putting it off, I’ve designated Monday mornings as my prospecting time. I’m writing about it here to hold myself accountable. Hope you don’t mind 🙂

What About All The Other Stuff?

All the other stuff you need to do to run your business is definitely important. But you have to leave room for the hard stuff.

As a solo practitioner you’re going to wear many hats – sales, marketing, operations and finance. You have to do it all or at least make sure it gets done.

Think 80/20 Rule

I like to remember the 80/20 rule when it comes to doing the hard stuff. The 80/20 Rule is Pareto’s Law, which states that 20 percent of effort yields 80 percent of results and vice versa.

Spending 20 percent of my available work time on sales each week will likely generate 80 percent of my future income. That’s why I have to do it first.

Doing it on Mondays will give me a great sense of accomplishment and create momentum for everything else on my to-do list.

That means existing clients will get even better service since I won’t be so worried about my next payday. See how it’s a virtuous cycle?

Weekly Accountability

Now it’s official. I just blocked off Monday mornings for outbound sales. While it’s great to have a goal, what if life gets in the way and knocks me off track?

This happens to everyone. The only thing we can control when unexpected events happen is how we respond to them. That’s it.

Once you get a plan in place, be flexible and plan for changes. That way you won’t be totally blindsided when life shakes up your etch-a-sketch.

Yes, it’s easier said than done, but flexibility will make a huge difference in your ability to be consistent. If Monday doesn’t work, Tuesday will.

Your Turn

What about you? What’s the hard stuff in your life or business that needs to be tackled first? Get it done and tell us about your success in the comments. As always, thanks for reading!

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