So what can a business owner do to “find” the time to focus on what is most important to their success and survival—increased sales and profits?
The following are the steps I recommend to every business owner I am coaching when they say they have no time for the changes they have identified as vital to their success:
- I always start by having the owner track their time in detail. To do this, the owner simply writes down everything they do on a pad or a calendar for a week or two. Be sure to mark down how long every job takes.
- Then the owner must decide how much an hour of their time is worth. A simple way is to decide how much they wish to make (or what they would pay to replace themselves) and divide this by 2,500. This is 50 weeks at 50 hours per week (Sorry—I don’t know a business owner who doesn’t work at least that much in a year). So if you want to take home $100,000/year, you need to make a profit of $40/hour.
- Analyze your time and highlight anything that you are spending your time on that occurs on a regular basis and has no direct impact on your customer or your bottom line. Highlight items that you are doing that you wouldn’t pay someone else to do at the hourly rate you calculated in #2 above ($40/hour in our example).
- Eliminate as many of the things identified in #3 as possible.
At this point, the business owner usually laughs at me and tells me, “Sounds great, but I can’t because (fill in any of the 100s of excuses you can come up with here).” My response is always the same: “If you want to be successful, you must! Otherwise, you will continue to have the same problems you are having now.”
Once you identify those items that you shouldn’t be doing, figure out how you can:
- Delegate it to one of your employees
- Outsource it
- Eliminate it in total
This is not a one-time exercise though!
I keep a red Post-it note on the corkboard right above my computer screen that says:
How can I get someone else to do this?
This is a reminder to myself that I should only be working on those things that will directly increase sales and profits.