Time is our most valuable resource. Unlike money, we will never be able to produce more of it.
We likely have to think differently about how to find ourselves with more time.
In the early stages of growing a business we particularly feel the limits of time. We are likely the sole employee of our enterprise which means all tasks fall upon us. We are the visionary, the salesmen, the manager and the labor. We also have to do all the admin that has no one to bill for the service other than ourselves when we do not do it. Time is furiously present when deadlines loom yet always absent when rest and play are needed for the entrepreneur.
So what can you do?
The answer is very simple to state, it is actually one word, we need to say NO. But what do you say no to, everything feels eminant. No visionary time no distinction. No sales no revenue. No management no efficiency. No labor no invoices. No admin, no foundation. It is not a matter of saying NO to any of the overarching hats on the whole, it is matter of saying NO to the circumstances encountered while taking on the role.
To win back time, one of the best places to consider saying no is in your SALES. Yes saying no to customers is one of the most important steps in building a flourishing company. Customers dictate not only the pipeline of revenue coming in, but also the time spent creating revenue. If the cost of serving a client exceeds the amount of revenue in, it is hurting your business.
You can be reasonably accurate in determining the revenue that a client might bring in, how many widgets will they buy or how many hours might you bill them determines your top line. The more challenging consideration is what will it cost you to do so.
Here are a few things to assess when consider the cost of serving a client:
Are they competent? Do they do what they say they will do well? If they are unable to add value because of thoughtless work efforts internally or externally they will not be in business long and will not be an account you will receive funds from. You will spend time and see no return.
Competence shows up early in building a relationship. There is a good chance that if someone can not manage their own schedule to show up prepared and on time they probably can not handle scheduling a rigorous project calendar let alone a company trajectory.
Are they able to communicate? There are very few things that are in our control. Circumstance will almost always create situations where things do not go as planned. Not to mention high achieving people will push limits of their ability and mistakes happen. An ability to articulate what will happen, what has happened, and what can be done saves everyone time and just as importantly saves on everyone’s stress account. Remember communication is not only about the words that are said, it is also about the timing and the manner in which they are said.
Communication skills show up early in building a relationship. You certainly have to set up a time to meet. You can recognize when a client abuses a medium. 6 three word emails to schedule a lunch likely means there will be waste when launching a new marketing campaign.
Are they a nice person? You would think that in a rational business the ability of someone to extend empathy to humanity is not important. It is. Humans are not only rational, they are also emotional. This means energy and effort are consumed when emotional experiences are encountered. An email that is egotistically crafted likely causes a mental pause for the recipient that is far longer than the thought required to step down off the pedestal. Mean people cost a business a lot of time and also tax the emotional accounts of others who have to work with them. Besides do you really want your day to be spent with people you do not like.
It takes time for underlying colors of a client to come out. However small interactions say a lot about the character of someone. Thank you is very cheap to say but incredibly costly to forget. Recognizing the dignity in all humans does or does not happen as someone walks down the street. If lunch focuses entirely on the work and life of your table opposite, what might a meeting talking about the collaborative project look like?
Being selective of your customers early on in building your business will serve your accounts well. Saying no to people that will cost your business more than what they bring in will grow your receivables faster than your payables. This is true for your money, your time, and your emotional well being. And all of them will need to grow if you are going to build a flourishing business that you love.