Seven Weeks To A Better Business, Part One

By Beacon Staff

Over the last 34 columns, I’ve spent a lot of time making note of good business practices and bad. While quite a lot of the things we’ve discussed are about the perhaps misguided things that businesses do, there’s always a lesson for the smart business owner who is paying attention.

Now, it’s time to start fixing things. Your things.

Doesn’t matter whether you are a butcher, baker or candlestick maker (or perhaps an attorney, insurance salesperson, or Realtor), these things will get you going in the right direction but they will NOT do a darned thing if you just read the Beacon, pitch it aside and don’t actually DO them.

This week, we crank up a seven week series for growing your business.

Week One: Let someone else do the mopping and filing

The first thing we have to do is get our hands on some additional time. Sure, you can get up 30 minutes earlier, but I suspect you’re already going full speed (if not, you need to examine why) and you may feel like you need that sleep. If you have the 30 minutes, all the better.

But…If you are already burned out, or just busy as all get out (doing what exactly? Think about it), then giving you seven more things to do is just going to tick you off. And of course, like most busy business owners, you’ll probably never do them. Something else will come up, or be more important. It doesn’t matter how long they’ll take, you can only put a gallon of water in a gallon bottle.

I can help you do a lot of things, but violate the space time continuum or the laws of physics is yours to take on.

So let’s get started: When you “save money” by doing $8-$15/hour work rather than letting someone else do those things, you don’t save money, and in fact – it costs your business even more. You’re stealing from yourself.

Here’s why: While you are filing paperwork, mopping floors, running to the office supply store, running to the post office, changing the oil in your business vehicles (by hand or at the QuickeeLube) and so on, you aren’t spending time on what’s really important to the growth of your business.

I know, it seems like common sense, but you would be shocked to find out how many small business owners do this.

What should you be doing instead? Things like keeping your existing clients, finding new clients, working on your marketing, improving your products and services, creating new products and services, training your staff, business planning, and similar IMPORTANT work.

Those are the things that your $8-15/hour employee probably can’t help you with.

In most small businesses, there are things that only the owner knows how to do. These are often the highest profit, highest value activities to your business and to your clients. When you spend time on mundane tasks that a teenager could perform, you are actually stealing value from your business because you should be doing work that has a much higher value. There’s nothing wrong with teenagers, they just don’t necessarily know what you do (don’t ask me, ask them, they’ll tell you).

If you are on your own: Find an assistant, even part time. Make a list of tasks for them to do. Let them worry about getting the mail, making calls, etc.

If you already have employees, make a list of these kinds of tasks that you normally do and assign them to one of your employees. Don’t make the excuse that their time isn’t worth spending on filing paperwork etc – their time is worth far less money than yours to your business and your clients, even if the work they do is important.

What to do next: Make a list of items you can easily delegate.

Delegate them today if possible and start getting more valuable work done instead. Let go of the little stuff so you can focus on the big stuff. They’ll do a fine job. You trained them, remember?

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at [email protected].