Become more efficient in your small business by eliminating tasks that can help you gain more time.
Take a moment to think about what time means to you. Waiting in line isn’t as pleasant as being at the front of it. Being late or early is a bummer over being on time. We long for the past. We aim for the future. When things go wrong, it is the time we wasted that makes it so hard to swallow. When a loved one passes, it is the time we missed that hurts so much. Time is money. Time is each and every person’s treasure. So why do you waste it?
Entrepreneurs and small business leaders tend to pinch pennies. I remember hand washing cars when I owned my construction company to save on costs. In addition to that, I filed my own paperwork, cleaned the office and did whatever it took to keep things running. It’s important to have a solid small business financial plan in place, but the unexpected does happen. Doing all of the above is simply what you do when you are just beginning to grow, right?
The thing is, and I need you to really read this:
You are more valuable selling and upgrading your product than you are doing grunt work.
You chose your profession because you enjoy doing it and are good at it. How would your business benefit if you put five hours each week into selling instead of administrative duties? Imagine what you could do with an hour each week upgrading your product or service instead of cleaning the office or your home. Consider the impact of getting things done in a 40 hour week instead of a 60 hour week on your family or social life. Imagine the extra sleep.
Time is of the essence. Instead of measuring by dollars, measure by time and see how it impacts your decisions. The most obvious example of streamlining processes so that you run an efficient small business, isn’t the only way to gain more time. You might hire a janitor at the office or a cleaning lady at home. Some find that an assistant to make appointments, file or otherwise is the best investment. Others figure out that door-to-door dry cleaning and online groceries add value to their weeks. Whatever it is, as you delegate these tasks, you learn not only how to value time, but how to manage yourself and your team and how precious time truly is.
But how do you ultimately make the decision?
- To start, I like to consider what I believe is a reasonable hourly wage for my work. You can calculate this either from past sales or your present salary or even past salary if you are still too new to know. Base it upon an ideal 40 hour work week.
- After you have this sorted out, figure out how many hours you work to pay for your basic living needs like your home, utilities, groceries, gas, savings, retirement etc. If you are like most households, it should land pretty close to 2/3 of your income. Considering that, the average person has approximately 13 hours of disposable time.
- Then look at the cost of finding others to do miscellaneous tasks. If I make $50/hr and a janitor costs $30, I may be only make $20 for my usual work. That is more than the $50 I was losing in doing it myself, and it will increase my productivity over time towards more profitable ventures. However, an easier way to look at it is: you spend about 40 minutes of work to hire this person and you gain 20 extra minutes. If you are considering an assistant, you might think a little differently. Burdened, an assistant may cost the amount you make each hour which could cut into your own income. But would you be able to increase your personal value to the business (and therefore your own hourly rate would increase)? Perhaps having a few extra hours each day would allow you to land more contracts or sell more products – enhancing your growth.
- Finally, figure out how long it would take you to make up for the cost of this help. Sometimes building a plan and getting a loan allows you to hire sooner than you anticipated. Then you can build your dreams faster!
Knowing the life of the upgrade is essential to evaluating its time-cost added value. $1000 for software that is outdated in two years may or may not be the right choice at this time. If it increases the productivity of your team by 20%, how long would it take for it to pay itself off?
This strategy also works with how you spend money. Instead of the movie tickets for your family costing $50, you can think of it as an hour of your work for two hours of entertainment for your family. Visualizing a new car as costing fifteen hours a month (which is greater than your average 13 hour allowance) instead of $750 in payments changes your visceral feelings about the expense. See how that works?
Everything comes down to the business owner’s value of time. Once you begin to evaluate decisions on time, things fall into place more logically and you manifest the dream of spending your time exactly how you choose.
Heather Chiu is the Executive Director of Transpire Foundation (https://www.transpirefoundation.org/)and CEO of Haltere Corporation. At 19 she started a construction company to help pay for her degree at the University of California, San Diego and grew it into a $3.5 million business over 6 years. She now consults with start-ups, small to mid-size business, and management professionals in organizational strategy, efficiency and workplace training. Her charity teaches under served populations job and life skills ranging from how to work with difficult personalities to how to manage a credit score. Her international business is based out of California.