We toss the phrase around a fair amount – entrepreneurs being in the “weeds” of their business. I spoke with a friend about this the other day, he was sharing with me that financially his business is struggling. He’s making OK money, but not great. He told me he worked “80 hours last week”. My response, “doing what?”. If you’re working 80 hours, then unless you’ve priced your time much too low, you should be doing OK.
Now, he couldn’t account for his 80 hours, and certainly it wasn’t all billable time. I’ll be the first to admit that although he’s fantastic, you just have to say “squirrel” and he’s lost all concentration. Great guy, focus isn’t his strong point!
But we did continue the conversation, and I asked him to start tracking his time, literally hour to hour. I recommend just a simple spreadsheet, clock in, clock out, and document what you’ve done. Every cup of coffee, email, client call, meeting, networking event, and load of laundry. I encourage you to give this a try.
When you wrap up your week, start to categorize your time as either billable or non-billable, and then drill down further on the non-billable side to client focused, business focused, and personal – how does your time balance out? Even on the client side (if you’re not on an hourly billable model) are you charging what you’re worth? If you offer flat rate packages, start tracking (for each client) how much time is actually spent on the client, and divide that total number of hours by your billed amount, how much are you ACTUALLY making an hour?
And if you’re really curious, break your non-billable time down further and be very honest. What tasks on this list do YOU really need to do, and what could have been done by someone else. Now my friend doesn’t believe that he can afford help, and so we had the whole “what is your time worth” conversation – I know that his billable hour is much greater than what he could spend for some great assistance, but that’s another hurdle to overcome!
If even half of the time spent on tasks that could have been delegated was given back to you, what would you have done? How could your business benefited?
You’ll probably find that some of the time you were “working”, you were actually in the weeds. You were in the busy tasks of working in your business instead of working on your business.
So, what was he doing that I class as being in the weeds?
- Following up on outstanding accounts
- Preparing invoices for clients
- Posting his blog
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Following up on proposals
- Keeping his calendar organized
Combined, this took up almost half of his 80-hour week. This was time that he could have been working on securing new business, completing tasks or networking.