The First Step to Making the Time to Scale Your Business
Content was originally published on Inc.com on January 21, 2016.
I want to follow up on an article I shared last week that featured Diana, co-owner with her husband of a successful contracting business in California.
In that article I shared about the critical decision you must make as the first step to scaling your company.
Now I want to talk about the next step you need to take after that – claiming back a small block of time each week to make meaningful, yet realistic, progress towards reducing your company’s reliance on you.
Let’s start off with this statement – you’re already working more than enough hours to scale your company. In fact, let’s go even stronger – working longer and harder is likely part of the problem and not the path to a solution.
Why? Because the longer and harder you work, the more dependent your company grows on your participation and production. Sure you’ll enjoy a temporary burst of growth, not unlike the temporary burst of energy you experience after drinking a caffeinated can of soda, but it just isn’t sustainable. And worse yet, there is a clear cap to the heights you can take your company if your growth is based on your personal production and participation in the business.
I call this natural limitation the “Self-Employment Trap”. It’s the point at which you cannot grow any further because there simply aren’t more hours in your day, yet now your business has habituated to run needing your heavy involvement.
This brings us to talk about the first “next step” in scaling your company – consistently claiming back a portion of your time with which to use to grow your company and reduce its reliance on you.
One key insight to help you do this is called the “Time Value Matrix”, a unique time mastery model.
But the application of this insight calls for something so basic, so simple, that you could start to apply it this week and start seeing results in less than 30 days.
Understand that in your business there are a few things that you do that truly create a massively disproportionate amount of the value for your company. We call these fewer, better things your “A” and “B” activities.
The tragedy is that most business owners allow their lower value “C” and “D” level activities to completely crowd out the A and B level tasks that could help them scale their companies and get their lives back.
Let me give you an example. Mike owned a successful online retail business selling consumer vaping products. He and his wife grew their company from the ground up, setting up their website, doing their own marketing, sourcing their products, and setting up a Las Vegas fulfillment center.
But of all the things Mike could do for the business, the one thing he did that created the highest value (literally over $1 million of sales during a 12 month period) was to create a proprietary e-cigarette product that the market loved.
But after an amazing year of growth largely on the back of this great product launch, Mike got so mired in the day-to-day of the business that he didn’t have the time to create his follow on product(s), and his sales fell flat.
This is so common that it’s almost a cliché in business – you do the high value thing to be successful with your company, but then you get so busy handling that growth, that you literally stop doing the very thing that lead you to be so successful.
So how can you learn from this story and do things like Mike is now doing? Simple, designate one day a week as your “Focus Day”. During that one day, for the first 4 to 6 hours of the day, set it aside as a dedicated time for you to focus on your highest value activities for your business. This could be working on the design of your next product. Or launching a marketing plan to attract new customers in a scalable, consistent way. Or making a key hire and training your new person to effectively “own” his or her position. Or creating a solid, written job description including “must haves” before you go out to interview and hire for a position.
Here are some tips to make your Focus Day effective:
- Organize what you’ll do with your Focus Day the day earlier, including laying out on your desk the materials you’ll need to immediately get started with your A or B level project first thing upon entering your office.
- Put an automated away message on your email auto-response telling people that you’re unavailable that day, and that you’ll respond to their email the next day.
- Explain to your staff your reason for taking a Focus Day (it helps the whole company grow and develop) and enlist their support in making it happen. Consider getting your key staff to take a Focus Day of their own.
- If you can’t start with a full Focus Day, take a “half day” – but make sure you make it the first 4 hours of the day. If you pick the afternoon you’ll likely get sidetracked by fires and “emergencies” crying for your attention.
- At the end of the week, reflect back on what truly created value for your company from that week and you’ll reinforce the value of your Focus Day as you see its impact.
Imagine the power of taking 4, 6, or 8 hours in one block each week to claim back as your “focus” time. Multiply this discipline by 48-50 working weeks each year. You’ll quickly see the compounded growth and maturation that you can enjoy in your business.
The key is you must start now carving out your Focus Day.
If you would like more on the specifics of successfully scaling your company, here is a link to 21 free video trainings my company created on how to strategically scale your company and get your life back. Click here and access our free Scale Tool Kit today.