You DO Have the Time
Content was originally published on Inc.com on February 10, 2016.
“But David, I’m already working 70 hours a week. I just don’t see how I can fit in the suggestions you’re making.”
I was talking with Bob, owner of a successful industrial products company in the western U.S. A decade earlier Bob had purchased the business and had more or less run it as it had always been run. And while the business hadn’t grown, it had produced $200,000-300,000 per year of income for Bob, who, although he did have a small staff, was effectively self-employed.
Bob felt torn because while there was a part of him that wanted something more – more growth, more profitability, and more time freedom, he just didn’t think he had the time to do anything about it. He already had an overly full to do list, and if that wasn’t enough, each day brought new customer “emergencies” and internal operational fires that Bob needed to jump on and put out before they caused too much damage to the company.
But still there was that junior voice inside his head that wouldn’t go away reminding him that the reason he had gone into business for himself was so that he could enjoy a greater sense of control over his time and an increased level of personal time freedom. It was this voice that prompted him to enroll in our Business Coaching Program, even though here he was, at his first Maui Mastermind business coaching event, arguing that he didn’t have the time to implement any of the ideas he was learning. Ironically, at the same time Bob lamented his lack of discretionary time to implement the key ideas, he was very forthright in acknowledging that the ideas clearly would make a dramatic impact on his business if only he could implement them. Essentially he was saying, “David, I see that these ideas would help me grow my business and get my life back, but I’m just too busy mired in the day-to-day operations of my business to find the time to implement the ideas.” Classic chicken and egg irony, and it was costing Bob both in terms of growth and freedom.
Think about this for a moment. How many business owners do you know who, like Bob, are so busy doing the “job” of their business that they don’t make the time to step back and build their business as a business? Too busy to get outside help to make it better? Too busy to try out new solutions to chronic problems in the business?
That makes about as much sense as the person digging a hole who says, “I’ll stop digging as soon as I reach the bottom of this hole.”
Most business owners who want to grow their companies do it by working harder and personally producing more. But the more you the business owner do for your business, the more you’ve got to keep on doing because your business gets more and more reliant on you being there to “produce” for the business.
Instead you’ve got to find a way to do LESS and get your business to do more.
The biggest irony is that once you get on this path, your business will be more successful, more valuable, and more secure.
Let’s go back to Bob. We shared with him several simple time strategies to carve out 4-6 hours per week to put to upgraded uses in his business. Notice I didn’t say we helped Bob “find” the time. There was no time to find. Instead we had to help him claim back some of the time he was already working, trusting that he’d find a way to get the important operational stuff done in the remaining 65 hours a week he was working.
With his reclaimed time Bob started to ask the key questions like:
- What do I do for the company that truly creates value?
- What do I do for the company that, while it takes a lot of time, creates very little value for the company?
- What are our top revenue producing activities as a company?
- What are our least productive and most expensive company activities?
- How can we as a company, “Starve our losers, and feed our winners”?
- Which customers are our highest profit customers and how can we serve them better?
- Which customers are our lowest profit customers and how can we either make them highly profitable or phase out working with them?
And out of these types of questions, and with the humble starting point of those 4-6 hours of time that he was already working each week, Bob consistently started to shift company time, attention, and money away from the lowest producing activities, and reinvest these resources into his best ones.
The results? Today, 4 years later, Bob has grown his mature business by 33% to sales over $2.4 million. Profits are up. Best of all, he’s also increased his company’s “Owner Independence” by 133%.
So while it may be easy to blame how busy you are as the reason why you can’t scale your company, doing so is both non-productive and misleading. You do have the time. It’s hiding in the very hours that you’re already working. You just need to claim back a small percentage of them (in Bob’s case he started with just 7% of his working time) and invest those few, precious hours into upgraded uses growing your business the right way.
For more ideas on growing your business, including a free tool kit with 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, click here.