Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Business Basics–3 of 5

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This is the third in a 5 part series of articles about improving your business. it is aimed at those people who run a small business but could just as well apply to anyone earning an income. In the article I'll focus on one or two main points around the theme but remember there is a lot more to explored in each topic.

The 5 topics that I will cover in these articles when it comes to business are:

1. Reason

2. Revenue

3. Resources

4. Risk

5. Reduction

These topics are drawn from the mentoring model I use with my students and is somewhat unique to other methods that are common place. This means you'll need to prepare yourself for concepts that are very different from 'industry standard' so I encourage you to keep an open mind on what I present here and at least test it against your current version of business reality. Please feel free to provide any feedback on what I present here either in a comment or to me directly. I welcome all feedback and opinions. All I ask is that you be respectful because if you don’t I reserve the right to remove or ignore such comments.

If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to read the other parts in this series - Reason and Revenue - to give you a better context of my thought process. Also don't forget that this is only part 2 of 5 in series and I'd encourage you to read them all and then let me know what you think.

Now part 3 – Resources

What do you believe is your most precious resource? Interestingly, I find most people overlook what is clearly the most limited resource they have and in fact everyone has. Here’s a hint. It is something that you never get more of. Something that everyone gets the same amount of. It can’t be saved, stored or hoarded and it is something that expires constantly. Can you guess yet? Yes, it is time.

The most precious resource we all have is time, because we never get more. We also don’t know how much time we will get on this earth but we know that it will end at some point. Yet, even though time is the most precious resource we have many people don’t value it and continue to waste it.

Every person has the same amount of hours in a day that everyone else has, yet some seem to get much more done than others. Why? because they appreciate the value of their time and elect to not waste it. Like any resource you need to determine the how to allocate your time to achieve what you want. This goes back to my article on reason. What do you actually want to use your time to achieve? Is the question that needs to be answered first. The longer that question goes unanswered, the more time you waste.

The challenging fact is that we simply do not have enough time to allocate to everything that we wish to achieve. This therefore means we need to prioritise how we wish to allocate our time. if you don’t have priorities on how you wish to spend your time then you are likely to waste it and unfortunately as is the nature of time, you will never get it back. This is reason why you need to make the most of it here and now.

So many people are always so ‘busy’, but ‘busy’ doing what? They have no time to do the things they need. They always seem to unable to do the things they want or need to do. Why is that? In simple terms, they are allocating their precious time resources on things that don’t effectively provide for their goals. Just because you are ‘busy’ doesn’t mean you are using time effectively at all. Typically, it indicates that you are not allocating your time effectively at all, you are in fact wasting it just as readily as if you where sitting on couch doing nothing.

The first step I encourage people to do to help them make better use of their time is to track, in as much detail as they can, exactly where they spend their time. After about two weeks you get a pretty good idea of where it is going. For many it is surprising to firstly find where they are actually spending time and secondly how much time they are spending doing low return activities (such was watching TV).

The amount of hours you have in a day is limited. Once you factor in sleep you are probably left with around 16 hours. That is now your starting point. If you have a plan for what you want to achieve each day you then need to allocate how much time to dedicate to that. Chances are that you are not going to fit it all in and now you need to start prioritising and looking for ways to optimise your time.

The time that you may spend mindlessly watching television, for example, could part of that be allocated to learning that foreign language you want to become fluent in? That time you spend bringing work home, wouldn’t you rather be spending that with your family? If you start to value your time and see it as a finite resource you pretty soon become much more discerning as to how and where you allocate it.

The best step to start valuing your time is to stop giving it away for free. If others are not respectful of your time then they really don’t deserve it. You don’t need to be rude about it, however you should not hesitate to remind others that even though their time may not be valuable yours is. Respecting your time will automatically give you respect of others time, which puts in you in good stead with others.

You can also optimise your time by developing systems to automate your time. You can look for more effective ways to make use of time. You can also outsource many of the tasks that consume your low productive time to others. Remember, there is a limit to how many active hours you have available in each day, you need to use them for the activities that will provide you with the highest level of return.

This means using things like technology properly. Stop fiddling and learn how to make the best use of all the resources you have. When you have accomplished this look at what you can employ to give you the results that you want. However, above everything else start valuing your time appropriately and then and only then will you stop wasting it and start achieving what you want.

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net