Once you’ve made the decision to work on your business instead of just in your business you’ll be brimming with excitement. It’s extremely empowering to make the decision to take action and build a company that fulfills your entrepreneurial vision. You might also feel slightly overwhelmed, especially if—up until now—you’ve been focused on the day-to-day work of a Technician.
But hear us: do not lose your enthusiasm! You can do it. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and your business won’t be built in a day either. The important thing is to keep the momentum, keep focused and keep moving forward.
Baby steps are better than nothing
Sometimes the best—and only—option is to take incremental steps toward your goal. For example, how many of us have flirted with the idea of regular exercise? Although experts recommend 30 minutes of physical activity each day, not many of us do it. We know exercise is good for us, we know we should do it—but time is precious and 30 minutes a day can feel like a huge commitment.
But did you know that the same experts also tell us that three 10-minute sessions are just as effective as a single, 30-minute workout? When you think about it, three smaller workouts seem a lot less daunting, and are much easier to fit into your busy day. Simple things like taking the stairs instead of an elevator or parking in the spot farthest away from your destination provide the opportunity to get those 10 minutes of exercise.
This incremental approach can serve you in business as well. In this article series, we’ll take a look at how strategic work can be done incrementally with powerful results.
Making the most of your time
One of the issues you’ll face as you shift your perspective away from the Technician and into the role of the Entrepreneur is time management. Now that you’re working on your business, you need to make time to do the strategic work of the business, and this can be difficult at first.
The first step is to free up some time. Here are a few things you can do right away to manage your time and allow for the crucial strategic-thinking time you need to take your business to the next level of success.
Take control of your to-do list
What does your to-do list look like? If it’s overwhelming, you’ll kill your motivation before you even get started!
Step 1: Organize
The first thing you can do is decide which items on your to-do list are strategic in nature, which ones are managerial, and which ones are purely technical. If your list has too many technical tasks on it, it’s an indicator that you need to do some prioritizing.
Step 2: Prioritize
If you can’t scratch the managerial or tactical items off your list right away, a good first step is to find a balance. Try identifying one strategic, one managerial, and one tactical item to accomplish today and focus only on those. Eventually, you’ll learn to identify the strategic tasks and it will become easier to move those up on your priority list.
Step 3: Book It
Once you’ve identified your priority list, set aside time on your calendar to work on them. Tasks that you want to accomplish must be scheduled or your will never find the time to work on them. At E-Myth we post “Do Not Disturb” signs so we are not interrupted while we’re focusing on our strategic work. It’s okay to let your staff know that you need some undisturbed time—sometimes it’s the only way to get strategic work done. And once you’ve accomplished your three to-do items, go take a 10-minute walk around the block to celebrate and get 30% of your exercise for the day!
Delegate, delegate, delegate
Effective time management is all about the process of keeping a Daily Time Log. A time log enables you to learn how your time is actually spent, and will allow you to put a value that time. The process shows you just how expensive you are to employ. That’s because you’re probably doing a lot of technical work that you could pay somebody else to do—just as well—for less money.
If you keep doing all the little daily tasks that you’ve always done, then you’ll forever be trapped doing them and never free up the time to work on your business. Take a look at all the tasks on your to-do list that you’ve flagged as technical and ask yourself, “Does this really need to be done?” and then, “If it has to be done, can it be done by somebody else?”
If letting go of these tasks is scary to you (and sometimes it is, especially if you’ve always done it and have your own particular way of doing it) then try baby steps.
- Identify a small task that you want to delegate.
- Document the correct way to perform this task, step by step, including the quality control standards for each step. At E-Myth we call this type of system document an Action Plan.
- Have someone follow your Action Plan. Then be ready to revise your document, until you and your tester are comfortable with the newly documented system.
- When the new system document is ready, give it to the employee responsible for that task, and insert a copy into your company's Operations Manual . Your collection of system documents (action plans) will form the backbone of a functioning Operations Manual.
- Repeat these steps on the next task.
However you decide to go about it, delegating is a big first step toward freeing your time so that you can focus on what’s really important.
In the next article in this series, we’ll discuss the benefits of an incremental approach to product innovation.