Creating a To-Don’t List | September 19th, 2011

We all have them. To-do lists on our desks, on our refrigerators, and on our calendars. Our lives are ruled by to-do lists. But equally important, or perhaps even more important, are the to-don’t lists.

A to-don’t list is exactly as it sounds. It is a list of items to stop doing.

Creating a to-don’t list requires you to take a hard look at the activities you do on a daily basis that are counter-intuitive to success. It might be that you need to stop the obvious, such as spending time on Facebook, playing computer games, or browsing the internet. These distractions can derail your momentum.

However, there may also be less obvious activities that need to be added to your to-don’t list. It may be the services that you offer your clients that are not beneficial to your company’s bottom line, or the methods that you use to conduct business that are less than efficient. Maybe your business is too diversified. Branching out in too many directions can prevent you from finding your true niche.

For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and also offer catering services, cooking classes, a take-out deli, and your own brand of salad dressings and marinades. Take a look at each activity. It’s important to look at, not just the profitability of each, but also where your talents and passions lie.

Maybe the restaurant is profitable, but you don’t love it. Perhaps you like the take-out deli, but there is a lot of competition preventing true success. The catering may be showing growth, but its just not that profitable. You love teaching people to cook, but its hard to generate enough interest to fill the classes.

When you take a look at the salad dressings and marinades, you realize that you have a product that you feel passionate about and that’s showing steady growth. You are convinced that you could do really well if you were to focus your full attention on it.

So the restaurant, deli and catering service would go on your to-don’t list. You would most likely sell all three to finance more growth in the dressings and marinades business. What about the cooking classes? You might stop doing that, or perhaps you could use it as a marketing tool by creating a series of videos that feature recipes using your products. The videos could then be featured on your company website.

This example might seem a little extreme, but often that’s what is needed for true growth. Un-diversification.

Take a look at your own organization. Have you added more products and services in hopes of becoming a one-stop shop for your customers? Are there activities that could go on a to-don’t list? Make a list of all you offer your clients, and then ask yourself these questions about each:

1. Am I passionate about this?

2. Can I be the best at this?

3. Is this profitable or does it have the potential for profitability?

If you answer no to one or more, you might want to consider adding it to your to-don’t list. By eliminating activities that distract you from your true niche, you can focus on making your business the best it can be.


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