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The biggest trap in business: Busyness

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South Africa

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Do you remember what life was like right before you received the message that confirmed your appointment as executive as The biggest trap in business: Busyness? Or before you started your own business? Or before you took over the family business?

Opportunities lay ahead like an orchard of fruit trees ripe for the picking and everything that frustrated you about your career up to that point seemed like it was finally going to change for the better. Right?

If your journey was similar to that of most business leaders, that feeling only lasted for about a year or two. Leading a business does not become easier the longer you do it, even though you become better at doing the things you know.

New levels of complexity arise as a business matures, often forcing business leaders to work on "busyness" - or in the business - rather than working on the business.

It's easy to spend unlimited time reacting to focus areas that others highlight as urgent, important, or both.

It's much harder to figure out how to get - and stay - on top of the things that will truly influence the sustainable profitable growth of a business: purpose, products, processes and progress.

To be able to effectively choose where to spend time, effort and resources it is of utmost importance that business leaders understand what the core purpose of their organisation is.

Running a business to sell it requires a completely different approach than growing it for long-term success. If the purpose is to grow the business then the owner or appointed executive (CEO or MD) need to be crystal clear on:how the business will go about generating the finances needed to secure that growth, what impact the business wants to have on society, and the role the business wants to play in the lives of its customers.

Knowing the answers to these three questions will help any business leader to make decisions based simply on the test of "will this move us towards or away from our core purpose?".

The products and services offered by a business should not just align to its core purpose; it should also be hyper-relevant in a fast-changing world.

Business leaders have to keep an eye on developments across various markets to stay ahead of the curve. Being too busy maintaining the current offering and making no time for exploring (or assigning and monitoring) product or service innovation is a massive risk for any business.

And of course, these purchasing process of these products and services should be as frictionless as possible for clients.

A fantastic product that can only be bought through a cumbersome process that serves the convenience of the business rather than the delight of the client will always be under threat.

In a world filled to the brim with options clients don't hesitate to buy something that might be a little bit inferior but makes it a lot easier on them to complete the purchasing process.

Just because a purchasing process exists doesn't mean it should be left to carry on. Continuous process improvement must remain high on the proactive priority list of any business leader.

Progress in either products/services or processes should not be allowed to just sprout and grow in any direction. It should be strategically driven by the business leader in a direction and at a pace that supports the financial, social and brand purpose of the business.

Progress for the sake of it often ends up just increasing the busyness of the business leader, rather than the business they need to be working on.

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