During a recent coaching session with Mark, I was briefly reminded of how it feels to give your all to your business and have it spit in your face.
"I just don't get it! I'm putting all my time and energy into this business, and I'm still scraping by. I'm so tired of fighting to 'just to make it' but this is what I really want to do."
"Tell me about what's happening in your life," I inquired.
"My wife says I'm spending too much time working, and I know she's right. But I also know that I'm the one who is responsible for paying most of the bills. As it is, I'm probably working 80 hours a week."
"I really want to spend more time with her and our son, but if we're barely making it now, I can't imagine what would happen if I slowed down. I'd lose the business for sure. What I need is more time, not less."
Oh, it was terrible to hear Mark experiencing such pain. It brought back all of the feelings I had also experienced during the first years of my business several years earlier.
He had fallen into the same trap that many of us do. He believed that his degree of business success was directly related to the number of hours he put in. And, I knew, that until we altered that belief, he would never be free to achieve great financial success and to enjoy the freedom that the life of a business owner can provide.
Somewhere along the way, many of us pick up the perceived connection between time and results. Yes, it's true that if you spend 10 hours a day practicing piano that you will likely be a better performer than if you spend 5 minutes a day. And that same logic might apply to specific skills you use in your business. If you spend 4 hours every day doing anything (creating graphic designs, writing press releases, writing sales letters), you will undoubtedly develop your skills.
But, in an endeavor like business, success is based on much more than the total amount of time you put in. It's based on what you do during that time, what skills you have, what customers want, how you present yourself, what you charge, how you market your business, etc.
Some things in life are easy ?
Staying Thin = Eating Well + Exercising Baking Cookies = Measuring Ingredients + Following Directions
The stinker part about running a business is that you get out what you put in. And, it's not easy to figure out what the monster wants to eat ? but that's your job as a business owner.
If you spend countless hours networking at events that don't yield results, you are adding time to your week. If you re-create the wheel every time you have to put a proposal together, you are taking up time that you could be spending on other marketing activities, taking a lunch break, spending the afternoon with your spouse and kids. If you are starting numerous projects without bringing any of them to completion, you are wasting time spinning your wheels rather than profiting from one of those great ideas.
You see, it's important that you know where your time is going, what results you are getting from how you spend it, and what price you are paying (both professionally and personally) for spending so much time in your business.
Please don't take years to learn this one. It's a truth. If you figure out what your monster wants to eat, and you feed it to him on a regular basis, he will give you the key to the kingdom!
Are you ready to find out what you've been feeding your monster (i.e. "what you're putting into your business)?
Don't hate me when I ask you to track your time. 'How boring' you might say. Doesn't she understand that taking the time to track my time just takes more time (you can read that line again if you need to!)
Yes, it can be boring and it does take a little bit of time. However, if you invest tiny little bits of time throughout the day (adding up to only 10 minutes/day probably), you can discover the keys to propelling your business forward.
Start today by tracking how you spend your time (track every 15 minute segment) for the next 5-7 days. Include all the time you spend working, including evenings and weekends.
After the week is over, look back over the completed worksheets and tell me what you see. Look for things like:breakdown the number of hours you are spending on:marketingproviding your servicesoffice work (invoicing, paying bills)emailother functionsadd up the number of hours it takes you to do certain standard functions that are part of your businessattending a meeting (driving to/from + meeting)writing a proposaladding a new client to your practicedoing your accounting work
Too much time spent on office work could tell you that you need to outsource some of your administrative work.
Too much time spent on email might tell you that you need to stop reading so many ezines (except mine!), only read/answer personal email during off hours, or learn how to use the sorting function of your email program so the most important emails are highlighted.
Too much time spent on marketing efforts that are not yielding new customers could tell you that it's time to quit that networking club or stop using direct mail, so you'll have more time to invest in the types of marketing that are working well for your business (where have your current customers come from? Do more of that!)
Too much time spent attending prospect meetings might tell you that you need to reduce the geographic area you are targeting in order to decrease the time it takes to go to/from prospect and client meetings.
Too much time spent writing a proposal might tell you that you need to automate your process more so that you only have to input a few items of data to create each new proposal, contract, or spreadsheet.
There is so much to learn by tracking your time. Yes, it might be boring, but it's an investment of 10 minutes a day for a week that might just buy you the freedom and financial success you've been seeking.
About The Author
Kimberly Stevens is the author of the ebook series, *The Profitable Business Owner: A Step-by-Step System for Starting & Running a Successful Service Business*. Download Sample Chapters & get her free MiniCourse, *The 10 Most Common Mistakes Business Owners Make & How To Avoid Them* at: http://www.askthebizcoach.com/ebooks.htm; firstname.lastname@example.org