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How to create more time so you can grow your business

Dont' get burned out

Typically business owners try to do it all themselves. When you start out, that’s par for the course, but if you’re still doing it all two years down the line (or more), then you are probably feeling a bit frazzled or burnt out.

And your business possibly isn’t growing as you’d like it to.

Even if you’ve tried to improve how you’ve worked to be more efficient and it’s not er, worked, here’s another way to look at your tasks to identify what you can:

  • Keep doing
  • stop doing
  • make more efficient or
  • give to someone else to do

Or, in brief, do, ditch, develop a system or delegate.

The diagram below covers most activities a business owner does day to day.

The five Ds to help you prioritise your actions to grow your business

Diagram 1 – What you should do, ditch, delegate or diminish

 

 

I’m betting that most people will be spending not enough in the ‘Important but not urgent’ section.

Would that be fair?

I am guilty as charged too!
I’m bang on with client delivery and doing all the admin tasks but it’s too easy to get distracted by Q4 activities (even if I pretend it’s research for Q2 activities).

The ideal is that you spend a decent amount of time working on your business – i.e. sitting firmly in Q2 above. Some experts say you should be spending 75% of your time here. Which is all very well if you have employees who are involved in the ‘doing’. But let’s be realistic, until you get yourself to that point, it’s not feasible. But do try and aim for the equivalent of a day a week. More on how to achieve this below…

How much time do you spend in each quadrant?

My challenge to you is to calculate how much time you spend a week in each quadrant. And be completely honest with yourself. Use a timesheet to mark down all your activities – all of them! And then categorise them into one of the four quadrants above.

Are you shocked at the results?

Let’s look at each in turn and see what can be done to try and rebalance where you spend your time

Q1. Important and urgent

These are actions that have a deadline, or are a crisis or emergency that you do have to deal with, or may help towards achieving your long term goals.

These could be client delivery activities, dealing with an angry client or prepping for an important meeting.

These you have to do.

Q2. Important but not urgent

This is the most neglected area for business owners, yet is the most important one.

These are the actions that are due later but don’t have a deadline and that will definitely help you achieve your long term goals. They include things like strategy and planning for your business, creating a lead magnet to attract prospective clients, or writing a proposal or on-line course.

Because they don’t have a deadline, they are very easy to put off. A client phones or you get an email and that’s it, you’re distracted. And let’s face it strategy can make people feel quite faint, so it’s easy to drop in favour of something more enjoyable.

But stop!! This is the area where you should be spending more of your time if you want your business to grow.

Ah yes, Karen, but what if a client calls, surely that’s more important?

More important than your business? Seriously? When my clients tell me this, I ask them if they were with a client and another client called them, would they drop the one they are seeing to deal with the caller? No, of course they wouldn’t, and neither would you, not unless it was critical.

You’d quite happily tell them you were with a client and could you call them later and they would be happy (and probably very apologetic for disturbing you) to wait.

So why can’t you do this for your business? Treat it with the same respect as you do your clients. If you find it difficult to do, then I suggest you lie – tell them you’re with a client!

Have I made my point clear on this? Good, let’s move on…

So what can you do?

  • Allocate time in your diary every week and honour it
  • Get yourself an accountability partner
  • Put a timer on and get your head down to do that difficult work until the alarm goes off and then treat yourself to a break
  • Organise a JFDI day with colleagues where you spend a day working on business development activities, but dial into one or more other people to share what you’re doing and commit to doing it

Q3. Not important, but urgent

This is all the day to day stuff that usually has deadlines, but doesn’t really move you towards your long-term goals.

This includes your invoicing, doing your accounts, putting your business cards into your CRM and the other myriad of ‘stuff’ that you get distracted with. These tasks make you feel like you’ve had a busy and productive day by doing them, but you haven’t actually moved your business forward.

This is the stuff you need to diminish, delegate or develop systems for.

Let’s look at diminishing or delegating first – what actions can you take?

Outsource

You don’t have to employ people full time at the beginning, but you should, at a minimum, have an accountant and if you have a high volume of invoices, a bookkeeper (who can also do your VAT return for you).

If you haven’t got a VA (virtual assistant) yet, why not? They cost £20-£25 per hour and even a few hours a month can pay dividends.

Here’s a quote from someone who attended my talk on how to increase the profits in your business without increasing your sales:

‘Karen, because of you, I hired a part-time book-keeper/admin person and someone else to look after some customer success ‘stuff’ and to be honest, it’s been transformational. Seems silly to say, but I was getting way too clogged up on minutiae.’

Developing systems

This doesn’t have to be complicated – here are some examples:

  • Have repeat calendar entries for standard meetings and activities
  • Automate monthly retainer invoices
  • Automatic credit control (your accounting package sends out overdue invoice reminders rather than you having to do it)
  • Using the functionality of any systems you have e.g. automated email funnels that get sent out automatically when certain actions are taken e.g. someone signs up to your newsletter.
  • Setting up workflows in your CRM system to remind you of tasks, so you don’t have to think about them

Q4. Not important and not urgent

Or the time-wasting/procrastination quadrant as I like to call it.
None of the stuff here helps move your business forward, or it’s due much later, if at all. It’s all just distraction and fluff.

It’s those webinars you watch that claim they are going to change your life (they aren’t, I promise). Or those useful ‘must read’ articles on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn that lead you down a rabbit warren of other interesting articles until suddenly you discover you’ve lost two hours.

This is where a lot of time gets wasted which should be being spent in the Important, but not urgent quadrant.

This is the stuff you need to dump, delete or diminish substantially.

I’m not saying give it all up, but I would recommend no more than an hour a day if you must.

Other actions you can take:

  • Unsubscribe from all those emails you get because you gave an email address for a lead magnet and now you are bombarded daily with the latest (not) ‘life-changing’ offer
  • Close all non-relevant tabs on your laptop so you’re not tempted by the ping of a notification
  • Switch off the internet for a period of time so you can concentrate
  • Turn the volume of your phone down, or put it in a different room

If you’d like more detail on the above, you can find it in my e-book – How to increase the profits in your business without increasing your sales. Click here to download it

Or if you’d like to understand how you can get your processes and systems working better for you, let’s chat. You can book a 30-minute call with me, at a time that suits you here 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.

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