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Focus is purposeful and planned

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November is National Novel Writing Month: although I have no intention of writing a novel, I do aspire to write a book one day. So, rather than spending November working on a great novel, I will focus on writing blog posts every day for the entire month. I have missed two days already, but that was mainly because I spent much of my weekend battling a raging beast that screamed, hit, clawed and jumped about like a lunatic: also known as my teething two-year-old. So, here we go – one month of writing.

Seeing as how my weekend was full of distractions I thought it would be fitting to start with focus. As an entrepreneur focus is one of your biggest allies. As I write this post I am doing so with purpose, planning, and focus. I woke up before everybody else in the house. I attempted to wake up before everybody else in the house (I’m a husband and father of two), I opened up Word and began writing; I have yet to check Twitter, Facebook, or email. Essentially, I planned to be here this morning at this very moment, with little to no distractions so I could write this post.

The same must be true when pursuing important projects in your business. Intentional chunks of time must be set aside in order to get them done. It can be really easy to let the small day-to-day operational things in the business drown them out. Sure, running pay roll, paying bills, reviewing the books, and keeping track of sales are important, but the truly important projects are things that will help your business grow and move forward. It’s those things you must apply focus to.

When you have focus you have true steadfast determination to get a tasks or project accomplished. This determination includes cutting out the fluff: anything that distracts or prevents you from quality work. Some examples include: emails, phone calls, social medial, staff interruptions, unplanned meetings (which should never happen), and a general failure to plan.

I have found the most important method to focus on projects and important tasks is to plan them. I use the KanBan system for work flow/to-do management; I schedule critical components of projects in my calendar, as is it were a scheduled meeting. I will even work remotely at times to avoid random in-office distractions.

Essentially I have found that focus is 100% purposeful. If you find your day constantly filled with distractions it might be time to make some intentional changes that will help you focus and master the art of productivity and getting things done.

Strategic planning in Arkansas

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Relaxing in a Kammok Hammock!

Relaxing in a Kammok Hammock!

After reading a recent post on A VC about strategic planning, I realized this was something we haven’t done much of since starting Bearded Brothers. Sure, we had a general mission. We knew the general direction we were going, but we had no timelines set for those, and had never discussed the how.

I had asked Fred (of A VC) in the comments of his blog what he would suggest for a startup like us that is “too busy” to take time for these meetings. His suggestion was to just take a weekend retreat and spend time hashing things out. So, we did just that.

Chris and I also thought it would be a good opportunity to spend time together not just as business partners, but also as friends and to relax a bit. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas was our destination of choice. We chose this because it offered Rock Climbing (my favorite activity) and Disc Golf (Chris’ favorite activity).

We spent our mornings doing activities, and our afternoons and evenings discussing the business. We not only got to have a bit of fun and escape the grind, but we also got a lot done in terms of planning the future of the company. The 10 hour drive from Austin was especially beneficial for this.

In some ways our trip was a parallel to our journey with Bearded Brothers. Our first day there, the weather didn’t cooperate. The plan was to go climbing, but rain was keeping that from happening, so we decided to go on a hike instead along the Buffalo National River. The result was discovering a 50ft triple spring fed waterfall! Pictures, and video of this can be found on our Instagram feeds: Caleb SimpsonBearded Brothers.

This was something we would have never seen if something hadn’t gone wrong. Similarly, throughout our growth when things have seemingly gone wrong, we are inevitably led to a waterfall. For example, we have been in several different kitchen spaces since we started, all of which were affordable and accommodating at the time. But, with every space something would go wrong that lead to us having to find a new space. Each time this happened we had to go through the frustrating experience of finding (very hard to find) kitchen space in Austin and repeat the required health inspection processes. But at the end of each hike, it ended up leading us to a waterfall – a new bigger space that accommodated our growth. Our latest move is to our very own 7,500 square foot production facility/office!

We also left our trip refreshed and recharged – ready to get back to the work of growing our business! I highly recommend startups invest time in strategic planning. But at the same time be careful not to turn this into a business plan, which I feel is not worth anybody’s time. The clarity you will gain from these meetings is amazing! Strategic planning will give you clarity of mind and help you set goals, which gives your business something tangible to shoot for rather than driving around aimlessly.