What excuses are you creating that hold you back from success?
Most will claim lack of time or money. Don’t we all think we’d be so much better off in life if we had more time and more money. The question I always ask is how much is enough. How much money would be enough money? How much time would be enough time. The common answer to that question is “enough to feel like I can really enjoy life.” “Enough money so I can do the things I want to do” and “enough time to truly enjoy those activities.” I’ve had a massive pendulum swing in my life when it comes to both time and money and I’ve learned a few good lessons.
More time isn’t always that answer.
When I sold my trade show production company in May of 2014 I went from having an office with a staff of 7 that I reported to 40+ hours per week to having no where to be and no one to really answer too (except my husband and children). My entire adult life has been spent with a strict commitment to “working” at least 40 hours per week. In my mind if I weren’t working 40 hours per week I was a slacker and leaving money and opportunities on the table. I sold my company in large part to have the chance to spend more time with my two youngest children. At ages 2 & 5 I wanted to give them a more present mother. I felt that I was short changing them, that my allegiance was divided and that I owed them the joy of having a mother who was present for their firsts in life and their ups and downs.
Starting my business coaching practice
I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to marry my love of business and my love of motherhood. I’ve been given that chance to spend fairly equal amounts of time managing my business development and being present with my children. Its been a great experience, but having come from the 40+ hours per week work mentality it’s been hard for me not to push to spend more time on business development. Growing businesses is my passion and ultimately I love spending my time on this endeavour.
A few weeks ago my husband and I decided that one week per month he’d take on childcare duties and I could dedicate more time to business development. He is also an entrepreneur so I felt the idea was a great chance to spend more time doing what I love. Well, this week came – my full time business development week and it was quite a bit different than I expected. I learned some valuable lessons.
More time doesn’t mean more productive activities
If you spend more time “working” but you aren’t doing the right activities you might as well not be working at all. I spent more hours this week dedicated to business development, but I don’t think that I was any more productive this week than I was in past weeks. The reason? I approached the week differently. I thought, “I have so much time this week. I can do whatever I want,” and I did. I spent a lot of time on the internet. I was pursuing business development, but the internet is such a mass of rabbit holes you can get sucked in and not come out for hours. Time is a mindset.
When working limited hours you set clear tasks and deadlines. You’re aware of what needs to be accomplished and when it should be done. You work with focus. Having this mindset is the difference between being successful in your business development and just spending a lot of time doing not a lot.
Work “on” your business and not “in” your business
As a business owner it is crucial to work “on” your business and not “in” your business. Spending time on menial meaningless tasks is a great way to suck the air out of your productivity. You must stay focused on the tasks that are going to advance your business. I like to always ask myself, is this task moving me closure to my goal of profitability or further away from that goal. Another great question to ask can be, is this a money generating activity. As business owners we can tend to do a lot of really unimportant tasks that are far from revenue generators. These tasks might including spending hours organizing our email accounts, or relabeling our filing folders. They might also include spending two or three times as much time the time as needed on research prior to call. If you aren’t spending a minimum of 80% of your time on tasks that are directly related to sales then you might not need to worry about your file folders, because you’re going to be going out of business.
Identify your biggest time suckers
Create a plan to manage your biggest time suckers tasks. They could be email, returning phone calls and managing social media or other tasks. Set up a specific times each day to return phone calls and answer emails. Don’t plan to check your email every 5 mins. This causes you to go off track and gets you sucked away from a project that is equally if not more important. Check your emails twice per day. Set up a voicemail that tells folks that you’ll be returning phone calls in the afternoons.
Employees can dominate your time
If you have employees they can also dominate your time. Employees and assistance or contractors working for you are designed to make your life easier. They are meant to bring value to the organization. If you find that your VA is taking more than they are offering, it isn’t a good fit. Find someone who is able to quickly learn and comprehend tasks that need to be accomplished thus adding time to your day by taking on individualized responsibility. Make sure as you grow also that you aren’t increasing your overhead by adding employees to handle additional business that is simply going to pay that employees salary. As an organization you must increase profitability overall in order to justify the expense of an additional contractor or staff person. Decide what percentage of profitability makes sense for your organization and then stick to it. If your workload is increasing because you are gain new business and you think you’d like to hire someone analyze how much you’ll need to people this person. Then check to make sure that the increase in business will not only cover that person’s salary, but will leave the company will additional profit. You might decide the company needs to retain 10-20% or more in order to cover the hassle factor of adding staffing.
There’s an art to time management. I’ve found this art lies somewhere among the practice of proper preparation, correct task selection and being in charge of the use of your time as opposed to letting others dictate your time. I found that more time isn’t the answer, its proper use of the time you have.
Value of Time:
- More time doesn’t mean more productive activities- you’re only productive if you have a plan for productivity.
- Time is a mindset
- Work on your business and not always in your business
- Identify time suckers and either delegate or eliminate these tasks
- Make sure your support team is supportive
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