There is a principle that is critical to your success in your career and/or business.
Not apply it correctly and consistently and you’re likely to be doomed to mediocrity while running around like a chook with its head cut off!
So what is it?
Being able to separate the urgent from the important and focusing on what really matters.
It’s something I see time and time again with many of our clients when we start working with them. They spend their time fighting fires, handling urgent (and often unimportant) tasks rather than focusing on what brings in the money. In short, running around dodging alligators when they should be draining the swamp. Now I know, it’s often easier said than done.
Michael Gerber of “E-Myth” fame asserts that the vast majority of business owners start off as “technicians”. People who are very good at the technical nature of their profession – be they solicitors, accountants, motor mechanics or bakers. Given this there is often an inclination to try and solve every problem themselves, regardless of the value to the business.
Every business has the metaphorical equivalent of $10,000/hour work, $1,000/hour work and $100/hour and $10/hour work.
In other words some tasks are more important than others to the short, medium and long term health and profitability of the business. For example, for the average small business, $10,000/hour work is about being strategic. Spending time working on your business. Time that’s spent which will massively leverage your results. For example:
- Creating and implementing long term strategic growth plans
- Designing and implementing strategic marketing systems that bring in a steady stream of new business
- Creating products and programs where you do the work once and can sell it time and time again
- Consulting to top clients
However many small business owners spend their time on $10/hour (or less) work and only a small proportion on $100/hour work (selling, delivery etc.). Now I’m not devaluing the $10/hour work. It does need to get done. But by whom?
Are you the best person to do it or could your time be better spent doing $100/hour or $1000/hour work or $10,000/hour work (which only you can do)?
So your first priority is to sort your tasks into those that will help grow your business and bring in the money and other distractions. Separate the tasks into the following four categories:
- Urgent & Important
- Urgent & Not Important
- Not Urgent & Not Important
Then prioritise. Plot each one on the graph below.
Do the urgent and important tasks first. Then the important (usually strategic, long term business building activities). Delegate the urgent and not important and frankly forget about the not urgent and not important.
If it’s important enough, it’ll rear its head again.
If you were somehow able to manage to get rid of all your “$10 per hour” tasks and only do $100 per hour tasks all year, 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, you’d earn $200,000 in the year. And if you shifted just 5% of that time to $1000 per hour work, you’d make $290,000.
A 5% change boosts your income by almost 50%.
Because tiny hinges swing big doors.
Now an obvious question is how do you find someone to do the “$10/hour” work?
Use a “virtual assistant”!
Popularised by Tim Ferriss in “The 4 hour work week”, a virtual assistant is someone who you can outsource your $10/hour (or more) jobs to. A virtual assistant could do anything from handling your diary, answering emails, setting appointments via telemarketing, cleaning your databases, to doing your bookkeeping. Anything that doesn’t require them to actually sit in your office.
The best part is compared with a local, they’re incredibly cheap.
And once you find a good one, very reliable and efficient.
In the last few weeks a number of such firms have contacted me regarding jointly working with them. They are good quality firms and have good HR and project management processes in place. You deal with someone in Australia who manages the people. It’s a great model.
If you’d like to know more, drop me a line. And finally, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to take a helicopter view and work on your business and priorities.
It’s very easy to get subsumed into the day to day stuff. So I believe it’s vital to set aside time each week, leave your “normal” environment and work on your equivalent of $10,000/hour stuff.
Even if it’s only for a few minutes of quiet thinking time!
Which is where a good business coach comes in. Since 2000, we’ve worked with myriad business owners to help them rise above the fray and grow their businesses, often by multiples of 3 to 4 times within a couple of years.
We’ve helped them set strategic direction, prioritise they activities and most important of all, kept them accountable, so what they “intend to do” actually gets done! If you’re finding yourself in a similar position where you’d like to grow, but feel stuck at whatever level you’re on, give me a call on 0414 913 334 and we’ll have a confidential discussion as to how you can grow your business.