When you’re by yourself in business, it’s hard to figure out priorities and to keep yourself focused, motivated and on track. It’s hard to know what you’re supposed to be doing each day of the week … marketing? Creating content? Accounting?
It can be very chaotic and distracting, and often leads to you being reactionary in your business, as opposed to proactively getting done what you need to get done and making sure you’re meeting your goals and objectives. It’s hard to follow a plan, to prioritize and focus.
In a corporate office, you don’t tend to have this problem because there are all sorts of processes in place and you’re not in charge of everything. You’re usually focused on just one particular segment, as opposed to having to do absolutely everything from beginning to end.
As a result, a lot of people I talk to (and I’ve been guilty of it as well) experience what is known as “analysis paralysis “. You have so many things you could be doing that you don’t know what to do. So you analyze everything to death and never get anywhere.
This is where the concept of “hats” comes into play in your business.
Wearing Different “Hats”
One way I’ve been able to get my focus back is to think in terms of wearing different “hats” within my business. That is, think about yourself as putting on different hats for each role within a company.
In a larger company, these hats would be different people, all in their assigned roles and taking care of their areas of the company. Since you are the only person, you have to do all this yourself … the idea is to pretend you are these individuals, and focus on only the tasks for your hat.
What you’ll find is there’s a lot of hand off between the hats. Think of the processes in your business as a chain. If you have an ecom business, it could go like this:
Business Development hat: Get the samples, negotiate with the supplier
Operations Manager hat: Create the ecom listing on our website, create listing on Amazon, send in product
Marketing Officer hat: Google Adwords, Amazon PPC, Facebook ads
I encourage you to think about being in these roles. There are at least four, and you might find more. They are:
Hat #1: CEO
The Chief Executive Officer is the “top hat” … the organizer and coordinator. The CEO sets goals, directs the other hats (which are all you as well), attends meetings, goes through training and is in charge of decisions on how to allocate resources.
When you have your CEO hat on, the whole idea here is to give out goals to the other hats. Set the direction. Plan out the whole year. Take a step back and say, “Okay, what are the most critical things that we need to do in the next thirty days?” The CEO makes sure that the other hats are on track and making the right progress.
The CEO needs to be asking: Do I have a plan? Do I even know where this company is headed? What will I be doing in six months? A year?
What I suggest is, at the beginning of the month or a day near the end of the month, spend a day being the CEO for your business. Review your plans and goals and make sure you’ve made progress in your business. Then plan for the next month going forward.
Having the 12 Week Year planning strategy is a perfect compliment to the CEO hat role.
Hat #2: COO
The Chief Operations Officer handles all the operations in your company. This role includes being the accountant, and when you don’t have a designated accountant then this is simply you as a glorified bookkeeper.
All metrics in the business must be gathered and published for all your other “hats” to look at. This role is in charge of supplier management, inventory levels, customer service, and all the things you think about when you think of operations. Again, having an ecom business, things to look at include:
- How are the inventory levels?
- When do I need to re-order to avoid going out of stock?
- How are customer reviews? What are the concerns?
- How are my metrics? The visitors to my site? What are they doing
- What is the conversion rate on my Amazon listing?
- Follow up on and respond to the bad reviews
- Product adjustments
- Give feedback to CMO hat
- Create the financial reports
Hat #3: CDO
This is Chief Development Officer. This role is responsible for finding new projects and products that you’re going to take on. They do product research, obtain samples, find out how to make the product, and make initial contact with suppliers.
- Product/Project research.
- Obtaining samples.
- Product design.
- Packaging design (consult with CMO hat).
- Initial supplier negotiation and order.
If you have an affiliate marketing business, this will mainly be building new websites and content writing … anything that develops your business further. If you are publishing Kindle books, it’s writing and developing the ebooks themselves.
Hat #4: CMO
The Chief Marketing Officer is often the busiest one, and the hat you’ll be wearing most of the time. They’re responsible for creating and managing the marketing plans for each product and project. Every single business model needs a CMO. Every single thing you do, you have to market. Otherwise you’re not going to sell it. Some of the tasks the CMO needs to focus on:
- Develop initial marketing plans.
- Optimise websites for conversions and SEO.
- Manage email lists.
- Manage advertising spend/performance.
- Amazon PPC
- Google Adwords
- Facebook advertising
Example Week Plan
You can plan however you need to, but I find the best way to focus is to spend the entire day or at least a half day with one hat. Switching hats throughout the day makes it very difficult to focus and get anything done.
I suggest you split your week into focus blocks that are more or less like this:
Monday – spend part of the day as CEO. Lay out the week. Spend the entire day if you need to at the end or beginning of each month. The second half of Monday can be CDO day.
Tuesday and Wednesday are CMO days. Work on all your marketing, analyse your advertising, create and test new ads.
Thursday is CDO day. Work on project development, write and schedule blog posts, communicate with your suppliers.
Friday is COO day. Analyse your metrics. Check your stock levels. Any customer service issues you need to focus on?
Why This Process Works
This process gives you permission to focus on one thing at a time and not worry so much about the other stuff. So on Monday the CEO says, “CMO, we have a new product coming up. You need to come up with a new marketing plan. That’s the task you need to get done.”
Then on Tuesday and Wednesday you play the CMO role. Don’t think about anything else (unless you have some quick Amazon customer service queries that have to be answered.)
Don’t think about the bigger picture these days. You don’t have to worry about the year plan. You think… “Oh yeah, the CEO told me I’ve got to come up with the marketing plan for the new product. Let’s get to it!” It gives you permission to let your focus be on just one thing.
Without these hats, we business owners have a tendency to ONLY be the COO … that is, short-term “looking busy” without actually accomplishing everything. You know the drill … constantly looking at numbers, checking email every 5 minutes, looking at traffic to your website, checking that new Facebook ad and worrying … and on and on, without building your business or thinking long term.
By wearing different hats, you are forcing yourself to look at ALL areas of your business, and only then can you begin to move forward. Concentrate on tasks the CEO has assigned you, spend a day or a productive block of time doing it, and organize your day to get things done.
At some point, each of these hats will become too much work. This is a good sign. It’s a sign of growth and that it’s time to get help and begin to outsource your hats to actual people … turning your small business into a larger and larger business with multiple employees. Onward and upward!