Question 6: Want more hours in the day

How effective is your business model out of 10, with 1 being completely ineffective and 10 being very effective and efficient?

I suspect if you are reading this you probably haven’t written down a ten… I suspect you would be sitting on beach somewhere doing your “four hour work week” as per Tim Ferris ( great book, great concept although I suspect in reality when he is not travelling he does work considerably more than four hours a week).

What do I mean by your business model? It is the whole system – the way the business operates, the processes, the brand and the people involved ( whether they are employed or not).
Are you absolutely clear how you secure new customers, retain existing customers and fulfil their needs in the most efficient way possible? Could you replicate what you do? Sometimes it helps to think as if you were trying to explain what you do and how you do it to a new employee and they keep asking “why do you do it like that?”

One thing that can be helpful is to produce a system flowchart for the key processes between different personal involved. The standard format is a an oval represents the start and end, a rectangular box an action and a diamond a decision point. An arrow indicates the direction of the flow.

A system flowchart can even work where you are the only person involved if you “split” yourself into the different roles you take on. For example when I had a request for books I was acting as marketeer & sales person, packer and dispatcher and cash collector sending out receipts as necessary. This was fine when it was first published and I only had a few dispatches a week, but I soon realised that as sales escalated I really needed to outsource it and get it listed on Amazon – which I did. The fact that they take a large slug of any sale was worth it on two points – it reduced my time doing the less productive task of packaging and driving to the local post office at the end of the day and also the book has become available worldwide, so I have a greater number of sales than I could otherwise have hoped to achieve by my efforts alone.

The ideal business is one where you spend the time doing the work that you enjoy doing and where your strengths lie and the rest of the work you delegate or outsource.

Your action point for this week is to work out:

How can you improve your processes to make them more efficient? What can you do to outsource or delegate those tasks that are not your skill set?

The answer I always get is “but I’m in the service industry”. Great! Focus on what you do best and get someone in to take the cash and answer the phone ( or get a virtual receptionist – they are not mega expensive) or automate what you can. Do you really need to send out cheques? Can you do it by bank transfer? The other reply I get is ” but I can do it better myself”. That may well be the case but is it the best use of your time? If you earn £50 per hour,say but can get someone in for £8 per hour a few hours a week to do the filing and other administrative tasks perfect. When you first start I know ot is not easy to do that, but once you have been established any additional hours should be spent building up the business or building up your skill sets and knowledge.
Of course you can’t actually get more hours in a day – if you are working 12 hours a day already are you going to make it 18 hours a day? What you can do though is to focus on your strengths and eliminate, automate or delegate everything else.

How are you getting on? Do let me know in the comment box. If you enjoy these questions do share them with other business owners you know and click on the share button.

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