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Your Time is not Free – so Free up your Time

By Marc Winn | LinkedIn

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.
— Harvey MacKay

Your time is an investment in your future, so take care how you spend it. Invest it in activities that give you a high return. You may be doing things in your ‘free time’ to help your business, but any time you spend on work has a cost. Your ‘free’ time is actually not free at all.

Do not micro-manage, or interfere in basic tasks and processes at work. Instead of setting up systems to manage the small stuff (like reading e-mail) – many entrepreneurs still ‘do’ some of the small stuff. Some entrepreneurs argue that getting involved in everything ‘keeps them in touch’, helping them to understand their own business, but it has a negative impact on many, preventing them from reaching the next level.

It also impacts on their whole life. All work and no play makes not only Jack a dull boy – and Jill a dull girl… but can lead to the divorce courts or hospitalisation, fast! Remember – investing time in your family, relaxation, and social life is valuable too, and in the long-term, spending time with your child is worth far more than involving yourself in day-to-day detail at work.

Even if you draw no salary – be aware of the real cost of your time. The fact is, that the owner of a business should be on the highest hourly rate. You are the most valuable – therefore expensive – resource in the company. If someone else owned the business and you were an employee, what would you be earning? Put a value on your time by benchmarking your performance and prioritising your work. Find out the salary of an employed CEO of a similar-sized company to yours, and calculate your own hourly rate, as Director or business owner, commensurate with your peers in other organisations.

This doesn’t mean that you actually pay yourself at a high level but you should include the cost in a set of ‘shadow accounts’. If not, the actual performance of your business will be overstated. More importantly, you will see the true value of your time. Then look at what you actually spend your time doing, at this hourly rate. Cut out anything you’re doing that isn’t worth this rate – and look to outsource, or employ someone part-time to do those things. Employ that HR consultant for half a day instead of spending four days trying to get up to speed on employment law. Using yourself to read and process your email is incredibly inefficient and expensive, when you could be generating income or driving your business forward. Pay someone to do it for you. Save time, save money – and get a better result!

Anything that can be outsourced or done by somebody else – should be. Spending your time designing and building processes is a high value use of your time. Doing the process itself is low value. Don’t waste your time on the inconsequential, time-consuming stuff. Instead, use this time to deal with more strategic development and pressing business issues that will create more income or efficiency and drive your business forward.

Time is the most precious thing we have. Make sure your behaviours and actions reflect this. Start by measuring your time and ‘charging’ your business what you should be paid. Do this, and you will be outraged that you’re ‘paying’ yourself so much for tasks that you can outsource for a much cheaper price.

So, what is a good investment of your time?

  • Driving the business forward.
  • Designing and building new processes
  • Purposefully networking.
  • Gathering valuable knowledge and skills.
  • Spending time on your personal development.
  • Having free time to develop your ideas
  • Spending quality time with people who matter to you: family and friends.

Follow the time-saving, life-liberating guidance I’ve given you, and take a ‘working holiday’ to work on your ideas. The longer the better! A week, a month, even a year! It might sound alien to your current working practices, but spending time with some big-thinking, creative and enthusiastic people can be far more valuable to you and your business than what it costs you in time and money. If you return to work a more dynamic, productive, successful person full of new ideas – what a great investment!

Invite interesting, creative people to join you. It is transformative! That’s why Richard Branson owns the island of Necker – his working life is like one long ‘working holiday’, spent in the company of exciting, innovative people who stimulate his thinking. Just as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity came to him while he was daydreaming (not while he was concentrating), Branson’s best business ideas have come to him during his ‘working holiday’ time.

Think how poorly your current holiday practice serves you. Do you take a fortnight’s vacation? Is it only at the end of the second week that your mind actually begins to clear, and you start to relax? Just in time to go back to work? Think bigger, and think longer-term.

Take it up a level higher, and permanently replace yourself so that you can move onto bigger and better things. Entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson don’t involve themselves in the day-to-day running of their businesses. They free themselves up to achieve greater and greater things.

Never undersell yourself. Buy in your own services at high executive rates for the important tasks that really matter, that only you can do. Time is money!

Further Reading:

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris (Amazon Link UK, US)

Richard Branson’s Autobiography (Amazon Link UK, US)

If the above topic, or indeed any of my blogs are of interest to you, then contact me and let’s talk! Drop me an email at getintouch@marcwinn.com.