The Definitive Guide to Scaling Your Business

How To Grow Your Business Without Sacrificing Your Life

A step-by-step guide for business owners that want to experience true growth and time freedom.

From founder Jeff Hoffman and Maui Mastermind CEO David Finkel.

The information contained is this guide comes from over 20 years of experience building and selling businesses. It will benefit you to stay alert, take notes, and follow the action steps. When applied, these proven principals will change your life and give you time freedom, financial freedom, and piece of mind.

Day 6: Get Your Time Back

It’s hard to imagine scaling your company without working longer hours. As one business owner we talked with put it, “I just don’t have any more time. I feel like the only way I can grow my business is by taking away time with my family or time for myself.” This is a false dilemma. You don’t have to choose between long hours and growth or a lesser business with time. Throughout this book, we’ve encouraged you to focus on those fewer, better things that make a magnified contribution to your company’s growth, knowing that by focusing on less you can accomplish more. Time is one of the most powerful variables you can control in the business success equation. In this chapter, we’ll share a revolutionary new time mastery system we developed for business owners like you. This system will help you free up eight hours every week to reinvest in your business in upgraded ways.

Time Mastery Strategy #1

To upgrade your use of time, first identify what you do that truly creates value for your business.

As a business owner, you don’t get paid for time and effort; you get paid for creating value. So as you build your business, look for ways to create value independent of your personal time. This essentially is what it means to build a business, not a job. If you’ve read anything on time management, you’ve come across Pareto’s Principle, inspired by the work of nineteenthcentury economist Vilfredo Pareto. Commonly called the 80‑20 Rule, Pareto’s Principle states that 20 percent of your actions generate 80 percent of your results (high value) and 80 percent of your actions generate the other 20 percent of your results (low value). This useful distinction becomes the basis of a refined model for using your time to create massive value, independent of the hours you put in. If you take the 20 percent of your actions that generate 80 percent of your results and apply the same distinction a second time, then 20 percent of that 20 percent produces 80 percent of 80 percent of your results. That means 4 percent of your effort (the 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 64 percent of your results (80 percent of 80 percent). And if you can bear with us for one more math moment, apply this distinction one final time. Only 1 percent of your effort (20 percent of 20 percent of 20 percent) generates 50 percent of your results! That’s right—a tiny fraction of your highest-leverage work produces half of all your results.

We want to help you focus your time on the most valuable activities. That’s why we used this distinction to create the Time Value Matrix—a visual hierarchy of the four types of time: A Time, B Time, C Time, and D Time.

D time is the 80 percent of unleveraged, wasteful time that produces only 20 percent of your total return. We call this the “80 Percent Mass.” We’ve given it a relative value of 1. C time is the leveraged 20 percent of your time that produces 80 percent of your results. We call this “Leveraged Time.” It has a relative value of 16 (¼ less input generating 4 × more output). B time is the highly focused 4 percent that generates 64 percent of your results. We call this time the “4 Percent Sweet Spot.” (It has a relative value of 64. That means one hour of B time produces 64 times the value of the same time spent on a D activity.) A time is the top of the pyramid—the “Magic 1 Percent.” Fully 50 percent of your results come from these activities. (A time has a relative value of 200 times that of D time.)

Most business owners have no clue which of their activities fall into these four categories. How in the world can you create more value in the same or less time if you don’t know what activities constitute A and B time for you?

Identify your A/B/C/D activities and learn what you do that truly creates value for your business. List five of the tasks or activities you currently do at each level.

D Time: The 80 percent mass of unleveraged, wasteful time that produces only 20 percent of your total return. Examples of Jeff’s D activities include: reading emails to route them internally, reviewing bills to spot discrepancies, scheduling meetings and calls, reviewing meeting notes to determine required follow-ups, and writing replies to low-level emails. C Time: The leveraged 20 percent that produces 80 percent of your results. Examples of David’s C activities include: delegating to his assistant, dictating a letter, holding a group meeting versus talking with several people one at a time, updating his master to-do list, and sending out an email update to his executive team. B Time: The highly focused 4 percent “sweet spot” that generates 64 percent of your results. Examples of Jeff’s B activities include: meeting with key clients to solidify the relationship, coaching his management team to be better leaders, sharing company stories/successes/challenges in their biweekly staff meetings, reviewing his company’s quarterly progress, instituting a systemic solution to a recurring problem. A Time: The magic 1 percent that generates more than 50 percent of your total results.

Now that you’ve identified your current ABCD-level activities, it’s important to understand that what you currently list as an A- or B‑level activity will change. For example, if meeting one-on-one with a prospective client is currently an A-level activity for you, make sure that in the next six to twelve months, you’ve increased the value you create for your business so this activity is pushed down to a B- or C-level activity. Ideally, working with a joint venture partner who can generate dozens of leads for you every month will become an A-level activity, or training your sales team to meet with prospective clients one-on-one, or creating a sales video that generates passive sales. By that point, meeting one-on-one with a prospective client will no longer be important for you to do personally. It will likely still be someone else’s A- or B-level activity, just not yours. This is good; this is growth. And it’s how you both grow your business and reduce its reliance on you. When you get this distinction in your bones and shift your focus from “putting in hours” to upgrading the type of work you do (more A and B time and less D time), the results will be amazing.

Time Mastery Strategy #2 

To “find” the time, focus first on your D‑level activities. 

This one may seem counterintuitive, but the best place to look first to upgrade your use of time isn’t to your A-, B-, or C-level activities. It’s looking at your D‑level activities. Not only by definition do you spend the most time at this level, but it’s the easiest place to make changes because the consequences of dropping D-time activities are small. List all the D-level activities you do on a weekly basis. Keep a time log for a week or two to figure out the time spent on low value D activities. Once you’ve identified them, you can apply the “Four Ds” to get them off your plate

  1. Delete it. Some D activities shouldn’t be done by anyone. Look at the action item and ask yourself what the consequences would be if no one did it. If it’s small, then consider just crossing it off your list altogether. Remember our 1‑­800- Flowers story? If it doesn’t help you sell more flowers, then it’s an activity you can possibly delete. 2. Delegate it. Maybe it’s a task that needs to get done but not necessarily by you. Hand it off to your assistant, a staff member, or a vendor. Anytime you can hand off a D-level activity to someone, you free up both your time and your focus to do more valuable work for your business. This is the surgeon letting her administrative assistant do email responses, freeing up her time to perform another surgery. 3. Defer it. Maybe this task needs to be done and done by you, but that doesn’t mean it should happen right now. Sometimes delaying the action is the smartest choice. 4. Design it out. If you find yourself handling a recurring D activity over and over, improve the process or system to keep the task from coming up in the first place. For example, if you get the same seven customer questions repeatedly, post an FAQ page with the answers on your website. Perhaps you can preempt these questions by giving new clients a “quick start” booklet or instructional video that proactively answers these questions. Designing out a recurring activity is the very essence of building a systems-reliant Level Three business. It simplifies processes and empowers your team to get consistently great results with less and less reliance on you, the business owner. Look closely at your D activities as the place to mine more time. By applying the Four Ds of Deleting, Delegating, Deferring, and Designing Out, you’ll free up eight or more hours each week to reinvest in A and B activities.

Time Mastery Strategy #3

Structure your week to reinvest your “saved” D time in A and B activities.

It’s not enough to free up eight to ten hours each week by clearing the clutter of your D activities; you have to fill your freed-up time with A and B activities. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if you don’t fundamentally change how you structure your week, you’ll find yourself squandering the time you supposedly saved on more D-level “junk.” This brings us to a powerful concept to get more A and B time and minimize the D time that gets in the way: “Focus Days” and “Push Days.” A “Focus Day” is a specific day of the week you set aside to primarily work on a few key A- or B-level projects. “Push Days” are all the other days of the week that you use to just “push” your normal projects another step forward. Focus Days help you create long-term impact on your business; Push Days help you keep your day-to-day operations rolling forward. The key to succeeding with this technique is discipline. When it’s your Focus Day, you need to focus. Don’t get distracted by your Push tasks. We suggest that you set aside a full day each week for your Focus Day and make sure your team supports you in keeping this time clear so you can invest in these high-leverage activities. On your Focus Day, get outside of your normal environment and work on the highest-leverage, highest-value, highest-return part of your business. This could mean building out a baseline operational process to use with new clients, spending the day creating a hiring system to consistently supply you with quality team members for your sales team, or calling on your two most important prospective customers or joint venture partners to deepen the relationship or close the sale.

Here are a few practical tips to help you implement this strategy:

■ Even if you can’t set aside two full days a week as Focus Days like David, you can find one day or at least half a day every week and use it as your Focus Day. If you choose to start with a half day, we strongly suggest you use the first half of the day. You’re much less likely to have urgent fires pull you away from your A and B activities.

■ Generally we don’t suggest you choose the first or last day of your workweek for your Focus Day. Too many urgencies need your attention on those days.

■ Communicate your need for help to your staff so they understand both what you are doing and how it will help the business succeed. Enlist their help. When your team understands how important Focus Days are to the company’s ability to achieve its goals, they will rally to support that effort.

■ Get out of your office and away from distractions. Work from a quiet conference room, a local café, or the lobby of a nice hotel. Bring only the key project(s) you want to work on for your Focus Day. One component of willpower is controlling your environment to best support you. Leave the other work and distractions behind. That way, you couldn’t work on them even if you wanted to.

■ Consider prompting your key team members to take their own Focus Days too. You’ll quickly see the positive increase in production this will bring.

■ Finally, remember that Focus Days aren’t about being off by yourself—they are about focusing on your top A- or B-level activities that truly create value for your company. For many people this can mean meetings, phone calls, or critical email. It’s not time off or time away from the hard work; the key distinction is that on your Focus Day you are primarily doing your A- or B-level activities.

Time Mastery Strategy #4

Work first “above the line” and live by the Results Rule

Most business owners start each day with high hopes. They take a moment to write down the list of tasks for that day—a list that often grows to 15 or 20 items. Then the day hits and they find themselves pulled off track to deal with customer challenges, operational fires, and sales emergencies. Here is a better way to organize each day: When you sit down in the morning (or the night before, if you prefer), choose three bottom lines for that day and write them at the top of your to-do list. Draw a line under them to visually mark them as different and special. Make two of them business related and one of them personal. Your bottom lines are the action steps you’ll take that day that will create the most value for your business. Generally these are A- and B‑level activities. Here is an example of a time mastery to-do list.

Live by the Results Rule

The Results Rule says that by 10:30 a.m., you have either completed each of your three bottom lines for the day or have scheduled a definite appointment on your calendar during which you’ll complete them. This technique is powerful because it pushes you to do what matters most first, and to treat your daily bottom lines with the respect they deserve. Most business owners put off these bottom lines to deal with the urgent requests that come at them during the day. In doing so, they sacrifice far more than they’ll ever know. Avoid this trap by following through on your bottom lines first thing in your day whenever possible. For added benefit, combine Time Mastery Strategy #4 with Time Mastery Strategy #5.

Time Mastery Strategy #5

Every “Push Day,” schedule a “Prime Time” block to work on A or B activities.

Everyone has a certain time in the day when they’re at their best. A Prime Time block is a 60- to 90-minute appointment that you set for yourself at your peak effectiveness time. That’s when you work only on your highest-value items (usually your “bottom lines” for the day). By blocking out this time as an actual appointment on your calendar, you guarantee yourself at least one hour each Push Day to have a focused block of time to create real value for your business.

Time Mastery Strategy #6 

Create a “Stop Doing” List and add to it weekly

Too many people live their lives based on a to‑do list to which they keep adding more and more tasks. But they rarely make the hard choices of what to let go of, what to delay, what to delegate, what to delete altogether. For example, could you delegate vendor issues, or scheduling, or customer-service issues to your staff? Outsource your bookkeeping or computer issues? Hire help to run your personal errands, do yard work, or organize home repairs? Look at your to-do lists from the past 60 days and identify the activities you can add to your “stop doing” list. How much time will eliminating these tasks save you? Each week, pick a few more activities you deliberately choose to add to your “stop doing” list. You’ll find that the items you put on it tend to be tasks you find draining—maybe ones you put on your to-do list out of obligation or inertia. When you get rid of them, you’ll not only enjoy a sense of elation and energy but will truly free up your time for more valuable activities.

Action Steps – What To Do Now:

  1. Get your time back using the six time strategies above.
  2. Continue to Day 7: Set Up Your Strategy Session