Will my small business survive? How can my small business survive in this pandemic? Where are my next customers and clients coming from? How will I be able to afford the bills this month? Can I afford to pay the wages of my staff? And many, many more questions in a small business owners head…
Well in all honesty I can’t give you any definitive, positive answers to those questions, but what I can do is help you gain some focus and clarity on what you can do and control and help you see the woods for the trees. It’s a simple question, broken down into three parts, that can help every small business owner take action and move themselves forward, even if it’s only a little bit rather than a cosmic leap. But once you’ve used it, you can use it over and over and over again and it will help you get rid of that overwhelming feeling when things feel out of your control or there is a ton of stuff that needs to be done.
The question is, “ What’s the one thing I can do / such that by doing it / everything else will be easier or unnecessary? “
This question is known as a ‘focusing question’ and is part of the book ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan and dance using it with clients and associates it’s changed the way these small business owners approach issues, problems or opportunities in their business. So, lets take a look at the breakdown of the question…
“What’s the one thing I can do…”
This sparks focus in your mind. “What’s the one thing” tells you it will only be one answer as opposed to a raft of ideas that may randomly bounce a business owners head. (I’ve been there and done that too, so I know they do!) It forces you to think specifically and it will be honest enough to tell you upfront that although your brain wants to come up with 101 answers or recommendations that only 1 will do. You’re not hedging your bets here and so you can only pick 1. And that’s it.
The last part of this section is what’s known as an ‘embedded command’ directing you to take action if possible. It’s not a ‘could do’, ‘should do’ or a ‘might do’ because they all miss the point really. And let’s be fair there are lots of things we ‘might do’, ‘could do’, ‘would do’ or ‘should do’ and never end up doing. The action of ‘can do’ will beat an intention every single time.
“…such that by doing it…”
This tells you that there is a perimeter and criteria that your answer needs to meet. It’s the bit that bridges the gap between doing something and getting the result that want from that action. “Such that by doing it’, lets you know that by doing whatever it is and digging deep, that this one thing sparks a reaction or that something else is going to happen because of the action you are taking.
“…everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
That amazing small business owner and famous greek mathematician, astrologer, inventor, engineer and physicist Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and I could move the world,” and that’s what this bit of the question tells you to find. “Everything else will be easier or unnecessary ‘, is the result of the ultimate leverage test. Think of it like the first in a line of domino’s and when you flick that first one, what happens to the rest?
It’s helping business owners think that if you do this one thing , everything else that you could do to accomplish your goal will either double with less effort or perhaps not even seem as necessary as you first thought. Most small business owners struggle to comprehend how many things that don’t need to be done, if they would just do the right thing. Why? It’s not because they’re daft, but it’s probably because as kids we weren’t taught how to lead, manage or run a small business whilst we were young and malleable, so we’ve now got to a point where we just do what ‘feels’ right and therefore that leads to that overwhelm feeling, because we ‘feel’ that we need to do everything and concentrate on the outcome rather than focusing on the steps to that desired outcome. In effect, this qualifying part of the question seeks to declutter your life by asking you to put on some blinkers and ignore the other distractions.
This question essentially ask you to find your first domino in the process of your outcome and focus on it until it’s knocked over. Once you’ve done that the line of domino’s behind are either ready to fall or start naturally falling in an order that gets rid of the overwhelm.
Conclusion – How Can Small Businesses Survive With One Question?
Simple questions can lead to amazing answers and great results.
The power of this question is to get you focus on what you can do to move forward immediately. It’s the start of a chain reaction for not only a task, but your business and whatever else may well be troubling a small business owner. This means that a business can survive by asking yourself this question, this way and getting you to focus on the first important step that may result in consolidation, pivoting or doing something different.
This question is on double duty.
This question has the power of the big picture that you have in your mind but reducing it to the more important smaller focus point. The bigger picture is the right direction for your business and perhaps your life and vision, the other is about finding the right action for the right time, which is now.
The small focus question has all the power.
Many people talk about why they do what they do, and for many this drags them or pushes them along when times are hard. But it can also be a huge distraction as we become more focused on the overall outcome rather than the steps to get there and this can lead to that awful ‘overwhelm’ feeling. The small focus part of the question keeps you targeted on the most important and immediate work and helps you find that piece of activity that helps you gain momentum to know over that first of the many domino’s. This can also help you put together your most productive work week possible by getting those things done that lead onto the bigger things which lead onto better results.
Extraordinary results come from asking yourself this question at times of stress or pressure, when everyone and everything seems to want your attention and it’s one of the things I help clients with when it comes to building and growing their business through the mastermind coaching or challenge weeks that I do. By being held accountable for one, or maybe two pieces of focused activity, some small business owners have been shocked and stunned at the momentum and results they achieved by using this question when problems or issues have arisen.