Get Ahead with CEO Sprints

It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks of running your business and forget to take time out to work on those things that are important for moving your business forward or making it more efficient.

One easy way to make progress on those bigger-picture goals is to regularly set aside time to do a CEO sprint. 

A CEO sprint is time specifically set aside to work on tasks or plans that relate to your overall business, not just the paying project in front of you on your desk right now. 

An hour is a convenient time block to set aside — most people try to schedule CEO sprints a few times a month or even as often as once a week.

What should you do in a sprint?

Decide on something you can do in about an hour that relates to one of your larger business goals. Brew a fresh cup of tea or coffee, turn off your phone, silence your notifications, close your social media windows, and do the thing. 

Here are some examples of things you could do:

  • Set up a mailing list your customers can join through Mailchimp or a similar program. (Remember that you cannot simply add any random email addresses you have to a mailing list; you need your contacts’ explicit permission.)
  • Research potential new markets.
  • Make a list of five potential clients you could contact next week.
  • Watch a video or take an online class to learn a new skill. 
  • Test-drive a new piece of software to see if it has potential for helping you run your business better. 
  • Learn how to do one advanced trick with the software you use in your work every day (e.g., wildcard find & replace in Word, pivot tables in Excel) and practice with it. 
  • Create a PDF you can send to clients that will help with some aspect of how you serve them (e.g., what to expect when you work with me, how to review a document with tracked changes, X number of tips for doing Y).

Sprint with friends

Motivation can be hard to come by when you work on your own. 

Put out a call among your fellow solo biz owners to do a sprint together so you can keep one another on track and celebrate your wins. 

This week is the seventh annual business retreat for my mastermind group (the Quad). Among the things we’re doing this week are a series of CEO sprints. At the appointed time, we state our intention for the hour to the rest of the group, and then we get to work. At the end of the hour, we check in to see how we did. Because we’re meeting virtually this year, we put out the call in our professional community (we’re all editors) to join in if they like. 

Your turn

Make a plan to do a CEO sprint sometime in the next week. Set a goal, focus on the task, and pat yourself on the back when you’re done. 

Do that enough times, and it becomes a habit that consistently moves your business forward.