Note: This is an (big) expansion of an earlier post (see: Time Management for Entrepreneurs).
“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.\0?
– Lin Yutang
Small business owners believe they are extraordinarily capable, able to fix the biggest disaster through sheer force of will, and are able to out-work, out-think, and out-hustle anyone and everyone else in or around their business. This is a strength and a weakness. In many cases, they are right. But it is serious flaw to let those feelings dictate their decisions.
There is an enormous difference in return on investment (ROI) between high-leverage activities and low-leverage activities.
There are times when it is better leave something undone or to have someone do an inferior job at a task you could do 1000 times better so your attention can be focused not on incremental improvement, but exponential growth of your business. This is the core understanding that marks the transition from small business owner to entrepreneur. Many times I’ve watched it be the difference between “doing well” and “millionaire many times over.”
Last week, a coaching client running a one-man reseller shop and billing several hundred thousand dollars per year told me he spent three hours per day answering the phone and writing quotes for computer systems. He wanted me to give him a way to attract new clients. This was the wrong question.
The right question is, “how can you get rid of the three hours per day of low-leverage busy-work, and devote it to high-leverage marketing?”
The answer is to hire and train part-time help. Then, take the fifteen extra hours per week, turn off the phones, lock himself in the office, and work on systematic marketing. One month of this concentrated effort will produce greater business returns than a year of desperately trying to fit the most critical part of your business into stolen moments of days already too long.
Significant business growth is more about purposefully allocating resources than doing more, better, faster. As the person who makes the business move, your most valuable and scarce resource is your time. You must be ruthless with it.
To close this article, my exercise for you is the same I gave my coaching client.
- How much do you want to make this year? Break it down into an hourly amount.
- For one week, track the time you spend in your business. What are the tasks you do, and for how long?
- At the end of the week, go over your log asking the question, “what am I doing that I can systemize, hire someone to do, or outsource for less than what I need to be earning per hour in order to meet my goals?\0?