A common complaint I hear every day is that “I’d love to do it, but just don’t have the time”. But surprisingly enough, everyone on the planet has exactly the same time. We all have 24 hours a day and 365 and a quarter days per year. However the challenge that most of us have is that we often try to do more in a day than the number of hours we have available.
Our lives today are incredibly busy with ever increasing demands on our time. As a solopreneur or small business owner or manager, there are an endless number of tasks to do each day. You have to find new clients, do the work you already have secured, pay the bills, and so on.
A typical approach to managing time involves identifying your priorities and ensuring the work you need to do is only that which is most important or most urgent. For a small business however, quite often there is still more than 40 hours of high priority things to do each week, so no amount of prioritisation actually solves the problem.
What many people find frustrating is that often they start a small business to give themselves greater flexibility or to earn a better income ten they would have working in a corporate job. Yet, life as a small business owner ends up being more stressful and you end up working longer hours and earning less than you did in your corporate job.
Michael Gerber identified in the ‘E-Myth’, that many people go into business with good intentions, however the majority are technicians and become self-employed. This means that they don’t earn any money when they are not working and the business they establish cannot be sold because it has no value as it cannot exist without the founder working every day. If the founder can’t or doesn’t want to work any longer, the business effectively fades away. Gerber also identified that some business owners make the transition to being a manager who engage others to do the work. He also identified that an even smaller group transition to being an entrepreneur, creating highly profitable, lifestyle businesses where their only job is as owner and shareholder.
The key to reducing your hours, and in fact, the key to creating a successful business is to turn ‘time’ into ‘team’. In Gerber’s words, you need to move from technician to manager.
To start, you will need to keep track of what activities you spend your time doing each day for a few weeks. Only then will you be able to clearly understand where you spend your time.
Next, you need to consider that each type of activity can be split into categories that reflect the value to the organisation. Some work is low value, as it is largely administrative and can often be done by someone with limited skills or education, and therefore people performing this kind of work are often paid the lowest rates. Likewise, there is high value work, that usually is strategic in nature, involves bringing in new business, creating new products or is associated with creating partnerships with others. This is high value work, requiring expertise and skills that only a few people have. Then there is the stuff in between.
Most people rarely consider that each hour of their time has a certain value. In small businesses in particular, many people don’t really account for their time and often do not charge appropriately for their skills and expertise.
I like to think about all the work that people do as either $10/hr work, $100/hour work or $1000/hour work, reflecting the relative value of the work itself. Business strategist Tim Dwyer identifies it as red, blue and black work, assigning colours rather than indicative dollar amounts to each category.
The first type of work you need to let go of is the $10/hour work. Your time is far more valuable than this and you can employ people to perform this work. Its best to either delegate this work to an admin person, or outsource or out-task it. By out-task, I mean hiring a virtual assistant via Freelancer, O-Desk or Fiverr to do the job for you.
A common fear that many people have is that they aren’t making enough money, so paying someone else to work for you just isn’t possible. This is because the prevailing mindset is one of limited resources. Instead, a different perspective is needed. A perspective where the extra time you gain will allow you to find more clients, generate new work or create more revenue. So in the 10 hours that you pay someone else, you could easily generate thousands of dollars, many times more than what you have paid someone.
The next type of work to get others to do is the $100/hour work, which is often the delivery work. By bringing on others that you can train to do the actual deliver, you free up more time and you increases the capacity of work your business can take on. By building a team and engaging others to do the delivery work, you can take time off to have a holiday where you don’t need to worry about the work being done or not.
Often business owners are concerned that it will take longer to develop a set of procedures and then train someone else to do the job then to just do it themselves. Perhaps if this is just a one off, then that might be correct, however, if think about how many people you may need to train over the life of the business then the investment to develop the procedures and training program for new staff will provide an excellent return. Not only will it save time in the long run, but a set of business procedures are incredible valuable assets, that mean your business can operate without you and can be sold to someone in the future.
So how much time do you spend as a technician doing $10/hour work?