Time can be quite elusive to most people, especially those in business. Most business people get caught up working under demands where everything is urgent and because it’s urgent, it must be important, right? We’ve got to do these tasks; otherwise we lose control.
However this means there’s less time to spend working on the strategic part of the business. These tasks, while not urgent, are very important. There’s nothing forcing you to take the time to do your 90 day plan, there’s always another day, week, and month, and before you know it, the whole year is gone and the business hasn’t progressed.
This doesn’t work. It’s important to start to slowly change the balance and create a structure around spending more time on the business. It’s not like flicking a switch. How do we do that? There’s different methods around that but one very important part of that is doing a time analysis and seeing where you spend time in the business. The things that are low-value, low-skill should all be delegated, or eventually eliminated. The things that are in the quadrant of high-skill, high-value for you or even high-fun are the things that you should do more of.
So, first, we need to figure out what that looks like. Then when we put together your “default diary”, we start putting spokes in your diary, spacing your diary where you’ll be prompted to work on your business. And the reality is if it’s in your diary, the chances are you’re probably going to give it more energy, and you’ll start to change that balance.
Time Creating a Default Diary
The whole concept of the Default diary is around making sure that you’ve got a structure in your week so there is at least a reminder to do the things that you really need to do. And just the fact that those things are in your diary means that the chances are way more likely that you’ll do them.
Many clients will say to me when I introduce the concept, “Yeah, Mark. That’s all good. Well, I understand how it works, but my business is different.” While I understand why people would say that, I can tell you that with the right mindset and the right structure behind you, a default diary will work and it will make a difference to your life.
So, what is a Default Diary? A Default Diary is simply a setup, a structure of the ideal working schedule. It’s important to remember it’s not a strait jacket, If there’s an emergency or an exemption you don’t need to follow your Default diary to a T.
The Default Diary works similarly to a high school student’s timetable. They’ll be scheduled to go to maths class during a specific timeframe, then they’ll pack up and go to history class and so on. Having this structure behind them makes it easier to learn and pass their exams. So, what do you think a typical business owner does? They’ll go to maths class, and they’ll do that all day. They’ll never take the time to focus on other tasks in their business. So, the whole idea about a structure in a Default Diary is to give you the structure, so even if you don’t perfectly follow it, you’ll still see the benefits. This is ultimately a gradual change.
As the saying goes, money talks. People will talk about turnover this, turnover that. To me, turnover is vanity, profit is reality. We need to figure out what in the business is actually making money rather than just try and service everyone who asked to be serviced.
Which products or services are actually giving us the best margin? If we focus on doing more of that, and less low margin work, we’ll make more with less. And that’s really what it’s about. It’s working smarter, not necessarily harder.
We also need to make sure that we’re tracking the right KPIs, (Key Performance Indicators). What do we need to know, what do we need to look at on a regular basis to make sure that we have a finger on the heartbeat of the business. Just like you’re driving a car and you’ve got gauges in the car telling you what speed you’re traveling, how much fuel you’ve got, we need the same sort of gauges in the business.
Now, you could drive a car without those gauges but you wouldn’t feel very comfortable because you wouldn’t know whether you’re gonna run out of fuel and whether or not you’re speeding. Yet people are actually quite okay driving their business without any gauges.
So, the way I approach it is, I’ll say to clients, “Imagine that you’re on a cruise ship for three months. And you had someone running your business. Now, that person has got no way to get in touch with you other than one sheet of paper, once a week that they can send to you.” That sheet of paper has got to tell you everything you need to know in order to understand where the business is at. This sheet of paper will need to tell you whether you can enjoy your holiday or if you need to take the first plane back home. So, once we get clear on what this paper looks like, things start to become far more controllable and far easier to manipulate
When business owners tell me that they can’t get good people, I usually say to them, well, if you’re unhappy with your team you should probably have a look in the mirror because if you think your team sucks you probably suck as a leader. Ultimately, when the business owner steps up, the team will step up. So, that’s one facet of it.
So, it’s learning more about yourself. It’s learning more about leadership. It’s also giving the team an understanding of what they’re there to do. You’d be surprised how often team members don’t know exactly what their job description is. It’s a lack of clarity and often a lack of good culture, usually because the existing culture is there accidentally. By that I mean it’s never been articulated, the team is often not told how to conduct themselves. And if you haven’t got that worked out then it’s no wonder that you’re dissatisfied with your team. People are the biggest cost to a business so it’s important to give them every chance to succeed.
We always need to be steadily working towards achieving a clarity of purpose for the business that the team can follow. Our mission then is what do we on a day to day basis to make that vision a reality. Beyond that, we need to know how to articulate this vision to our team.
Your team is the backbone of the business and is what gives you the leverage to make the business work for you, rather than just have you work for the business.