Do You Spend or Invest Your Time?

October 11, 2023

The challenge that I find a lot of business owners face today is that they are so busy working in their business that they cannot see the full potential of their business. So many times I look at a business and think the owner is doing well, only to discover in talking to them, that they are not even earning as much, (when their income is converted to an hourly rate), as their top employees.

A while ago, we had a client who owned a commercial cleaning business. This client used to work each week doing the cleaning himself.   When asked how much would it cost to employ someone to do the cleaning he was doing, he replied “about $600 per week”.   He was then asked how much extra business he could generate if he spent this same time in a week looking for new customers. He said he could generate about $5000 worth of new business in a week.

It’s obvious, looking from an outsider’s perspective that the logical thing for the owner to do is employ a cleaner to work in the business so that the owner can work on the business.

How much mundane work are you doing that could often be completed by a teenager after school? Think about your business.   How much work do you do that could be done by a junior or a temp, or maybe even a semi-retired person?

What are your opportunity costs?   What value do you place on your time?   How much extra business could you generate if you employed someone to do the day-to-day work?

What would it mean to your customers and your business if you were “freed up” to follow up inquiries that haven’t been followed up, socializing with customers encouraging them to come back or phoning existing customers to see if there is anything they require.   The bottom line is you could be spending time on vital sales and marketing, but you’re bogged down doing the day to day, time-consuming, physical work that someone else could be doing.

How much time do you spend developing new marketing strategies, analyzing Test & Measure results, initiating relationships with other businesses and the host of other necessary activities that make the difference between a successful business and an average business?

There is a month’s worth of tasks that a business owner may feel needs to get done in an average day. Successful business owners are those that do the things that are important in maximizing profit rather than concentrating on the “urgent problems” that arise every day.

Use professional advisers to help you in areas that you aren’t an expert in.   Get yourself a competent accountant and hire a bookkeeper; these sorts of people will save you time and money.

For example, if you were to invest in a Real Estate Development, you would take it for granted that you needed to hire the services of a Project Manager to advise you or to co-ordinate the Architect, Draftsman, Zoning Planner, Finance Manager, Construction Manager, Marketing Manager, Sales Manager, etc.

When we get involved in business, most of us do so with little or no assistance at all. Yet “a business” as an investment that – when well managed – outperforms every other type of investment.

Take the challenge and look at your business as an investment.   Look for a return on your invested capital as well as an hourly rate of pay in excess of your top employee’s.

Review what happened last year, analyze the results you achieved, see what adjustments you need to make to obtain the results you require, plan next year and look at what assistance you require to obtain the desired result.

Remember above all else, that time spent working on your business is far more important than time spent working in it.

Too often we meet business owners who are pulling their hair out at the lack of performance and dedication of their employees. When asked what their biggest business frustration is, the generally reply “finding good staff!”

Too often we meet business owners who are pulling their hair out at the lack of performance and dedication of their employees. When asked what their biggest business frustration is, they generally reply “finding good staff!”

As a Business Coach, when I peel back the layers, I find that the cause of the problem often rebounds back to a very defensive employer. The reason – too many tasks are abdicated and not delegated.

What is the difference? Well, when an employer abdicates a task or role, they are abandoning all responsibility. A task is simply thrust at an employee and they are expected to perform (How often do we hear “They should know what to do!”).

The result – the employee struggles, things go pear shaped and the employer steps in to fix the problems. After a while, the employer, out of sheer frustration at the number of problems arising, takes over that role again crying “I tried giving them the job but if I want it done properly I have to do it myself.”

The employee, on the other hand, is now confused because they thought they were doing a good job, sick of being yelled at by the boss and reluctant to make basic decisions.

There are however solutions. The first key to a winning team is strong leadership – and strong leaders delegate not abdicate.

Delegation relies on the owner keeping control of the situation but not the work. The task is explained, training provided, performance measurements set and taken and the responsibility (with consequences and rewards) assigned.

Will the employee still make mistakes – Yes! But they are not left to flounder from mistake to mistake. They are supervised and with the employer’s input – stepped through the process until a solution is found. And at this stage, the employee with the responsibility fixes the problem.

Over time the employee has a clear picture of what is to be done as well as the importance of the task. They have confidence in performing the role and know they if they make a mistake they must fix the problem.

Because strong leaders are keeping performance measurements and have regular performance reviews with their team, each employee knows clearly that future remuneration or advancement through the company depends on their own performance.

The employers, on the other hand, can now trust their employees. There are fewer frustrations, more consistent results and less workload on the boss.   Everyone is now working together as a team and not individual staff. Remember – if you treat them as staff, what you will get out of them is Staff All.

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