Highest and Best Use

Why You’re Not Spending More Time Doing The Highest-Value Activities In Your Business

When I was working in commercial real estate, we had a term for the best thing you could do with a piece of land in terms of the ROI that it would yield – it was called “highest and best use.”

With a given piece of land, you could do any number of things, but only one thing would maximize the value and use the land to its highest potential. And because land is in limited supply (like your time), it’s important to make the most of what you have…

Sometimes, the land started out being zoned for one type of use and some work had to be done to re-zone the land to make it possible to realize its true potential.

The same concept applies to your business.

You and each of your employees have certain skills, talents and knowledge which together create something commonly referred to as your “magic power” or as Dan Sullivan calls it, your “unique-ability” – the thing you can do easily and very well.

Your Unique Ability

When you’re doing what you do best, it’s hard to compete with you, and you create far more value than you would if you were spending your time working on lower-value activities.

Because you only have a finite amount of time and energy each day, it’s important to spend as much of your time as possible operating within your magic power.

But, there’s a good chance that some work needs to be done to free you up to realize your true potential.

The Opportunity Cost of Not Focusing On High-Value Activities

Every time you have to switch and do something of lower-value relative to what you do best, you’re reducing the amount of potential value you can deliver to your business. The same applies for your employees.

That’s not to say that a lot of the things you are doing are low-value – just that they are low-value relative to what you are capable of doing.

Think of it as an opportunity cost.

What may be low-value for you will be high-value for someone better suited to that specific task. What you may not do magically, one of your employees (or future hires) might do easily and enjoyably.

If you task a highly-creative, big-picture thinker with spending half their time doing the accounting, not only will they not enjoy what they’re doing, their real talent will be under-utilized.

Let’s assume that your magic power is coming up with new ideas for products or services that your company can offer to current and future customers. You may be the best person in the company at coming up with the the product or service, how to package it, and how to position it so it will fly off the shelves.

Here’s the All-Too Common Reality

Now, let’s assume instead of spending the majority of your time doing that, you’re almost overloaded with doing other things…

Let’s assume that you’re spending the majority of your time managing projects, dealing with the constant fires that are springing up, dealing with performance issues, dealing with customer issues and keeping all of the plates spinning so your business will continue to operate and deliver a quality product or service.

At the end of the day, you look back and realize you spent the vast majority of time operating outside of your magic power.

Why you need to focus on what you do best

You could have created far more value, but you’re out of time and it’s time to go home.

If that’s happening with you, chances are, it’s also happening with your employees. And every minute you spend operating outside of your magic power is a minute that could have been spent to create more value, revenue and profitability for your company.

The Challenge You’re Up Against

You’re likely already working a lot of hours and doing your best to keep everything together.

How do you free up your time and the time of your employees to do what you do best?

If you’re busy working in the day to day operations of your business, the answer isn’t always clear. You’ve been doing things the best way that you know to do them given your current perspective and resources.

What’s commonly overlooked is how your business model needs to grow and evolve as your business grows. What may have worked to get traction and get the company off the ground may be the very thing that runs the business into the ground as you grow.

By the same token, your roles and responsibilities need to grow and evolve as well. Wearing a lot of hats, figuring things out on the fly, and shooting from the hip is often a pre-requisite in the beginning, but becomes a burdensome liability as you grow.

If you want to focus on what you do best and create as much value for your company as possible, you have to create an environment where that’s possible.

Where to Look

As a consultant and mentor that focuses on strategic business growth, it’s been my observation that the key to unlocking growth, reducing overwhelm, and creating a business that grows sustainably (where you and your people can focus on what you do best) usually boils down to two key components: people and processes.

Obviously, it’s critically important to have the right people in the right positions. That’s a given.

The challenge is knowing whether you have a people problem or a process problem.

I’ve come across my fair share of employees who weren’t a good fit for the companies in question, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a business owner or manager point to an employee as being the problem, only to discover the real culprit was the systems or processes (or lack thereof) that were causing the chaos, dropped balls and problems.

Personally, I’ve been party to major transformations as a result of improving the way things are done (the processes) and making sure the people are crystal clear on the new way of doing things (communication – which is another process).

In the most extreme case, I went from almost being forced to fire a caustic employee who was making the lives of his co-workers miserable to watching him become the superstar he was always capable of being given the right environment.

What To Do Next

If you default to asking yourself how the system or processes are at fault, you’re on the right path.

After all, you don’t have to look any further than McDonalds to realize how much you can achieve once you have your model, systems and processes dialed in to set your employees and your business up for success and growth.

And if you do have some people that aren’t a good fit, consider that they are where they are as a result of a series of processes, including your hiring process.

If you’d like to discuss what’s happening in your business and how you can free up your time to focus on your highest-value activities, apply here for a strategy session.

Jason Ayers

My mission is simple - to transform the lives of business owners who have built a job for themselves instead of a wildly successful cash-producing asset. Your business should be your servant and not your master - an economic engine that fuels your lifestyle and your legacy. If you're ready for a change, I invite you to a conversation to discover how you can transform your business and your results.