It was Archimedes that said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Well, the same can be true in business. Learning to leverage your time can make a huge difference to your business.
One of the biggest challenges that business owners have is that their business never truly runs without them being there on a day to day basis. The ActionCOACH definition of a business is: “a commercial, profitable enterprise that runs WITHOUT YOU.” If your business doesn’t run without you, then you don’t have a business, you have a job.
Your time is your most valuable asset. If you waste money, you can spend time to get it back, but if you waste time, no amount of money can get it back. Successful people recognise this and will spend money to save their time; they invest in the services of domestic cleaners and gardeners, online shopping deliveries, labour saving devices etc. because they understand that the time they save is worth more to them than the actual cost of buying these services in.
Successful business people do the same; they invest in people, computerised systems and other types of technology that will save them time. So my question to you is, are you investing in resources that save your valuable time? Just think about what an hour of your time is worth, then think about how you spend your time in your business. If you value your time at, say, £50 per hour and you are spending 5 hours per week doing administrative tasks or book keeping, wouldn’t it be worth your while to hire a part time assistant to take on these admin tasks for £10 per hour, or outsource the book keeping at £15 per hour? You have then bought yourself more time to do more of the important things in your business that will make the most impact on your bottom line. The money you spend can be seen as an investment in your business.
Taking this to the next logical step, what is to stop you leveraging yourself out of the business 3 days a week, or even getting out of the day-to-day running altogether and spending your time doing something else? This could be travelling, enjoying hobbies, spending time with your family, or indeed, building another successful business.
The best use of your time as a business owner is not troubleshooting, being the number one contact for your customers or sorting out the mess your team have made, but is in seeing new business opportunities, providing leadership to your team and mapping out the future of the business.
You have to remember that if you do something once without writing it down, you are destined to repeat it forever, so the key to leveraging yourself out of your business is to have written systems and processes that enable it to happen.
Think of systems as ways of Saving Yourself Stress, Time, Energy and Money. Although there is an up-front investment of your valuable time, in the long run it will pay dividends as it gives you the following benefits:
• You can constantly improve systems;
• Other people can be trained and can then do the work for you;
• Customers will get a consistent service;
• There may be the potential to replicate the business in the future.
If you need further proof that systems can make you money, just look at McDonalds restaurants. These are found the world over all producing the same quality product and service, employing low skilled staff and making very good profits. While I would not expect your business to be as systemised as that, most business I come across can systemise 80% of what they do and train the human element to take care of the other 20%.
The problem is that for most established business starting write the systems is a daunting task. Where do you start and who should do it. Well like most goals the best thing is to break it down into manageable chunks and choose the areas that are most used and can produce the best improvements. I normally find my clients start with the sales and debt collection processes. Then go through each stage of the business bit by bit and delegate as much as possible to those that are currently carrying out the work. I had one client who employed 3 students over the summer to come in and write their entire operations manual for them as part of their university degree, a real Win:Win.
The key to making systemisation work is to make sure your staff are properly educated and trained to use the systems and processes. Your team really is your best asset, and frankly they are the only way your business will truly work without you.
Some business owners tell me that they are scared that if they train their team that they may leave and take their skills somewhere else. I reply that if they don’t train them they might stay!
In addition to people power, you should be looking to use whatever technology is available to make your systems more efficient, such as computerised Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, stock control, accounts, payroll, quoting, estimating etc. Don’t forget you are investing in the future, so always select a system that you can grow into otherwise you will limit your growth.
So stop thinking you are stuck in your business, and start leveraging yourself to the top.
– Kevin Stansfield –