Making Mud Makes Hay

September 3rd, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

I’m now formally back. I’ve spent the last four months on a personal sabbatical. I’ve had an amazing summer with my family and with my loved ones. I’ve hiked in the Grand Canyon, spent a month of service in Guatemala, and spent a couple of weeks with my beautiful wife in Europe. 

As I got back last week there was quite a bit of chaos in my business life. Quite frankly, a number of things were somewhat on the floor. I very specifically attacked these three businesses in the following manner. I’m calling this process, “Making Mud Makes Hay”. I’d like to offer some real simple suggestions for when you find yourself overwhelmed, outta control, or not certain if you’re doing the right thing.

#1. Brain Dump. Take everything you know and just start vomiting all over the table (do that vomit on a white board.)

#2. Categorize everything you’ve written into the following categories:
•    What you know?
•    What you don’t know?
•    What the questions are?
•    What are the key levers? What are the levers that can be pulled that are most impactful in the business.
•    What are all the different actions that you can potentially take?

As you spend a few hours brainstorming through this, amazing things happen. Warning: your white board will look like a mess, but despite the scribbles, you actually start getting clarity on the important areas of the business.

#3. List Potential Actions and Levers. Let me give an example. I’m in front of my board right now, and in one of my website businesses we determined that the levers are:
- To get more traffic
- To be more precise in our measurement
- To get better offers at a higher pay out, or to better flow our conversions

Those are the major levers that would really impact the business. We then graded those levers on how well we are doing currently. Then we went and focused on the most obvious lever, which translated into the following:
-    An action list of what we could do
-    What we need to learn
-    What we know that gives us confidence
-    What we don’t know

Making similar lists allows you to go in and explore key things, while ignoring less important areas. I had a business associate that called this selective negligence. Knowing what to ignore in your business, is just as important as deciding what to focus on. Allowing yourself to say, I choose to neglect that because it’s not of importance, is vital for success.

I speak frequently of the 80/20 rule. Thank you Dr. Steven Covey for this powerful concept. Indeed the 80/20 rule revolves around nearly every bootstrap success. The rule is: Twenty percent of effort yields eighty percent of the results.

In this blog post I have included a picture of three white boards. These indeed were three of the brain dumps (making mud) that we did this week. One is a task list or the white board. The second shows the priorities of the actions to do. The third one is the brain dump of something that is very confusing and has us all up in arms–specifically in the SEO industry.

By following this methodology I was able to:
- Get to real clarity
- Get real focused with the team
- I believe that it will yield results.

I have now been back from my little sabbatical for two weeks. Simply by getting focused and focusing on the big balls I can confidently say that the impact has been marked and significant in the form of dollars.
When you get afraid in your business, when you get discouraged or confused–I challenge you to vomit all over your white board. Follow this process. I commit to you it will work and it will make a significant difference.

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