Can You Really Work Less While Growing Your Business?
If you’ve ever started a company, then you know that it can demand a tremendous amount of effort and time, often at the expense of your personal relationships, nutrition, sleep and health.
That level of sacrifice and effort is often worth it if it has a defined starting and ending point, but what happens when your business continues to demand tremendous amounts of your time and energy?
And, how can you really start scaling up your businesses when growth means you’re going to have to put in even more time and energy?
For a minute, let’s consider that we’re floating above your business – looking down at the timeline from when you started until now…
In the Beginning
In the beginning, you wore a lot of hats.
In many cases, a lot of what you were doing was new, which means the time required to get those things done was hard to estimate and often took longer than expected.
You were fighting hard to get your business off the ground – to prove the concept and make it work.
And after putting in a lot of work, time and resources, you reached a point where your company was no longer fighting to prove itself (but it was still demanding a lot of your time and energy).
Your mindset shifted from proving your business concept to thinking about how you could maximize potential.
This is a critical point on the timeline.
The Critical Point That Can Limit or Enhance Your Efforts to Grow
Up to this point, your business required your involvement in all or the majority of the decisions and the work. The main limitation was the amount of time that you could put in.
But as growth continues, your current way of operating will or already has started to grow beyond the limits of your time and your energy.
All of that zeal and enthusiasm you had initially gave you the energy to put in the time and energy required, but you may already be noticing how that level of output isn’t sustainable long-term without paying a high-price in other areas of your life.
Putting Out Fires
The amount of fires that need to be put out and the amount of guidance that you need to provide start to outpace the amount of time you can realistically provide, especially in light of the tremendous amount of energy you already expended to get the company off the ground – a level of effort and sacrifice that was never meant to be long-term.
To sustain and to scale up, something has to change.
And if something has to change, we might as well consider how you can actually work fewer hours while simultaneously growing your company.
Pareto’s Principle says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Whether or not you know which 20%, the principle has been proven over and over again.
That means, by identifying the key 20% of your current efforts, you can achieve 80% of the results you’re currently getting.
But, Pareto’s Principal doesn’t just apply to the positive results. It also applies to the negative results. For example, if you have a lot of customer service issues, Those issues can often be narrowed down to 20% of the products, services, or customer base.
The challenge of course is identifying that 20%. It can take time and some digging.
By analyzing where your results are really coming from, you’ll identify efforts that are only leading to marginal results – something I call low-payoff efforts.
By eliminating or scaling back those low-payoff efforts, you can recoup a significant amount of time and resources, which you can apply to your high-payoff efforts (the 20%), to rest, or to leveraging your efforts.
At the same time, you can take steps to eliminate the 20% that is causing 80% of your negative results.
The reason we want to do this first is because there’s no sense in scaling negative results or low pay off efforts.
Once we’ve reduced your workload, the next step is to determine what work can be done by other people or by systems.
That means were going to need to put very clear documentation and place which outlines exactly what needs to happen and how to get it done.
Flow diagrams and step-by-step procedures work well here.
If you don’t have systems and procedures, this is a great time to create them.
One of the side benefits of documenting how you want things done is that it increases the amount of control that you have when other people are doing at work.
Another benefit, is that by putting you’re processes and procedures down on paper or on the computer, you may start to see where there are a number of inefficiencies or possibilities for improvement.
Once your documentation is in place, you can delegate to the right people. This allows you to multiply your efforts while ensuring the work is done according to your specifications, provided that you’ve hired the right people and provided the right environment for them to be successful.
Check out my article on accountability for more information.
Another option, if you don’t want to hire additional people, is to outsource work to a scalable workforce or to vendors that can perform the work for you.
This can be very helpful in projects requiring expertise in areas that you don’t need on a regular basis.
For routine, repetitive tasks, automation is often an option. One of the benefits of automating tasks is that it removes the human element. As long as the automation is set up properly, it will do what it’s program to do. It doesn’t get sick, doesn’t forget, and doesn’t make mistakes.
In many cases, automation ends up being far less expensive than employing people to take care of the tasks.
As you can see, this is a fairly simple process to reduce your workload as you grow.
Naturally, the devil is in the details and that’s something I help my clients work through. If you’re interested in growing your company, and you want to do it without sacrificing more and more of your time, I’d like to invite you to apply for strategy session by clicking here where we can talk through your specific situation and possible solutions.