How To Do Less In Your Family Business
Most small business leaders are terrible at delegation. Most of you are still clinging to this $50 an hour and sometimes even $5 an hour crap tasks that you do. Your time gets away from you. At the end of the week your 50 or 60 or 70 hours has disappeared, and you’ve really not worked on your business, you’ve worked in your business, and you wonder where all the time goes.
So here’s a great solution for how to delegate and how to get rid of some of this stuff that you do so that you can do a) higher order things, or b) just take some time off. What would be so bad about that? I’ll bet your husband or wife would love it if you could go on a trip once in a while.
The two biggest things that consume your time that are usually time wasters, like 90% of the time, are the telephone and email. Most telephone calls and email correspondence are not worth spending your valuable time on. So keep your eye on those two things. See if you can limit all your phone calls to four minutes or less. It’s amazing how much information you can convey. Unless it’s a big conference call or something really meaty, you can knock out most calls, especially informal phone calls, in less than four minutes.
So, here’s a quick list of the stuff you do. What I want you to do is go out and buy about 200 3 x 5 index cards, and write down each of the tasks that you do, one task per card. Just as a starter, things like: internal meetings, external meetings, being a resource for your people during the course of the day, finances, it might be collections, it might be billing, it might be AR, AP, meeting with customers, calls to vendors, doing employee evaluations, managing projects, estimating, quality assurance, dealing with customer complaints when quality is not all that good, sales and marketing tasks that you do, booking your own travel, (I can’t believe how many of you waste time booking your own flights instead of having an administrative person do it), taking notes, reading notes, storing notes, getting to all that business reading, that stack of magazines that you have, hiring, firing, dealing with interruptions, (you’d be shocked at how much time is spent just being interrupted from a task that you’re trying to do), designing new solutions, innovating in your business. All these are things that you do.
So, no matter what it is, no matter how small, running to the bank, running to the post office, all the stupid things that you still do that you shouldn’t, write each one of these things on its own index card. And then what you do is you get a big table, or room, or even a big hallway, and start laying out the cards in order from highest importance, highest impact for yourself and your business, to lowest. And you just go through and sort these 200 index cards.
Then what you’re going to do is stack up those cards, and start from the least important task. Let’s say running to the post office. Take that index card that was your task, and delegate it to somebody on your team. What? You don’t have anybody to whom to delegate? Well, you’re under staffed. It’s as simple as that. If you can’t hire a $15 an hour person to do $15 jobs, you don’t have a business, you have a job.
So, if you’re under staffed, and you don’t have anybody to whom to delegate, that’s a different kind of problem that you have to resolve first. You’ve got to have people on your team that can support you. Believe it or not, that is a valuable business thing. Support for the people that are capable of generating $5,000 an hour ideas.
So, you take that index card with that task, you go to your administrative person, you say, “From now on, I want you to go to the post office on such and such a day, such and such a time.” Boom. You have delegated a task. You’ve now freed up an hour or two hours a week to focus on $5,000 activities. Next week you’re going to do the same thing. You’re going to take your next low order task, which might be email, and you’re going to have your administrative assistant start screening your email for you. And getting rid of the junk, the stuff that he or she can answer quickly, like are you available for a meeting next Tuesday. That stuff can get taken care of. It never gets in your bandwidth. Boom. How much time have you saved there? Two, three, four hours a week? Now, you can go on customer meetings. You can do business development. $5,000 an hour tasks.
Think about the genius of this. These are not wholesale changes in your life or your business style. This is giving up one tiny task per week that you’re currently investing your time in. Think about it – even if you were to do that just half the time: 26 things that somebody else on your team could do just as well (or better) than you do. You give the task to them and you’ve freed up your own time, and maybe now you can get home in time to have dinner with your wife. Wouldn’t that be great? Give it a try, and let us know in the comments if it works for you!