Four tips for playing the long game in business, from Victoria’s Small Business Woman of the Year

long game in business

Own Body founder and director Fiona White. Source: Supplied.

Competitive sports are in my blood. I grew up on a tennis court, played competitive netball for 20 years and trained with the swim squad up to five times each week. I’ve always understood that goals require work, training and guidance.

This mindset has been key to maintaining my momentum over the years. I am a passionate problem-solver and starting my business was no exception. Initially, I saw a need in the healthcare system and set out to fix it.

As you might imagine, it wasn’t as straightforward as I had hoped.

But I stick at it, because I believe there is always a way to improve and overcome challenges.

I hope by sharing what helps me ‘keep on keeping on’, I can help fellow entrepreneurs to supersede the plateau and reignite their passion.

Start at the end. What’s your purpose?

If you see yourself in a business rut, I recommend you stop what you’re doing and immediately buy Simon Senek’s book Start with Why. I came across it a few years ago, at a time when I was questioning whether running a business was really what I wanted to do with my life. It was just the ‘rocket’ I needed.

Without purpose, we can’t set goals. Without goals, we lose the thrill of the chase. Inspiration to change is eclipsed by the comfort of routine.

Spend some time removed from the business to deeply examine why you do what you do and what you want to achieve, remembering your motivations may have changed since you started the business.

Set aside a whole day, take a holiday if you need to.

The important thing is that you start at the end.

No one ‘has it all’. What you are prepared to sacrifice?

Now that you have established your purpose, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. What key actions need to be implemented? What has the potential to block the path to your destination?

If you want to be the biggest and best in your field, you should probably expect to work long hours, invest in R&D and travel frequently. Time will become a precious commodity, so you’ll need to Marie Kwondo your personal life. Keep the essentials and consciously consider what you can do without.

Conversely, if your priority is moulding your business to function around your family, be clear with this priority. You can now approach solutions with the intention to outsource responsibility and accountability of key tasks, accepting that the cost is likely to profit direct control.  

Set mini goals, get regular wins

It is well established the reason behind social media addiction is the rush of dopamine delivered to our brains when we receive an alert. Our brains are wired to seek these happy hormones, and little wins are no different.

Set small, achievable tasks and make a point of ticking each off the list.

I have tried every task tracker on the market, but nothing beats a handwritten list sitting next to you on your desk and a big ol’ cross through each the task you nail.

Seek external inspiration

You don’t know what you don’t know.

I’m a big believer in listening to your team and their ideas, but even that can only get you so far.

Networking for me isn’t about schmoozing or making sales. I love connecting with people in different industries, finding commonalities and learning new ways to tackle challenges.

Podcasts are also a great way to fire up your creativity. My current favourite is Superwomen… we ain’t by Janine Ellis and Margie Hartley.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting still, silently listening to every word. Podcasts don’t take a second out of my day: I listen in the car, at the gym or while cooking dinner. We recently bought a Google Home device which has transformed an everyday task into bonus productive time.

Revision and re-evaluation fosters renewed focus

Own Body is yet to see a year of less than 40% growth. Processes we implemented last year are now obsolete and goals set three months ago have pivoted. Rapid change commands presence of mind and focus, but sometimes, it’s all too easy to sit back and let things tick along.

Set weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings with your leadership team to consciously review your actions and outcomes, ensuring the goals are current and tied to the purpose.

For me, this was the hardest step to take. I worried about the short-term cost of paying my team to take time out of the ‘doing’. But these processes are like training for game day. Sure, you could rock up and probably do okay, resting on your laurels, but we all know that’s not how you win.

NOW READ: “It was exhilarating”: Everything that happened in my first 90 days as a business owner

NOW READ: “Survive, learn, grow”: Three lessons on innovation from remote business owners in the Northern Territory


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