Working ON the business means being intentional about how you spend your time
"How are you spending your time?" It's a real gut-check type of question. Most founders equate being productive with working hard. If an advisor asks them this question, they may even infer it as questioning whether or not they are truly working hard. If that's you then let me stop you right there, no one is questioning whether or not you're working hard.
When ever I ask a founder how they are spending their time, my goal is to point out that there is a significant difference between working ON your business vs. working IN your business. Perhaps the easiest way to determine which camp you fall in is to look at how you are spending your time. This is much deeper than simply making sure you aren't "wasting your time" taking an extra hour at lunch to watch YouTube videos on your phone. That's just time management, something I hope every adult understands. What I'm talking about is being intentional about how you use your time and that requires a mindset shift.
Being intentional with your time means treating it as your most precious resource. It means understanding what future you want to achieve, what milestones you need hit, what KPIs you need to track, and prioritizing your and your team's tasks based on the impact of those tasks will have on helping you achieve your goals.
I know this seems like one of those obvious life skills but having worked with 100's of founders over the years I can tell you it really is not that intuitive. This game is about one thing SPEED. It's not just about making progress it's about how fast are you making progress. Time is your biggest enemy. It's very easy to make yourself "busy" but your job is not to have a full schedule it's to increase the value of your company as fast as possible.
Go back and look at how you spent your time this week or this month even. Now name the top 3 things standing between you and your goals for the year. How do those compare? You can be very efficient with your time but if you're very efficient at a low value task then what was the point? Congratulations you drafted the perfect drip campaign! Those 2 hours you spent doing that however could have been spent getting on the phone and closing another customer further down your funnel. What's more valuable the $30 you would have spent hiring an intern to create the email campaign or the $6,000 in ARR you would have gained closing that new customer?
If you want to 3X your company in the next 12 months, that means you need to be growing at 10% a month which means you need to close X leads this month and Y leads this week. How do you build the sales funnel, use your team, spend your marketing dollars, etc. to do that? What is standing between you and those goals? Of those objectives, which can you delegate and which do you need to focus on yourself?
That's how founders need to think about their time. It's not about being busy. Every founder can find ways to be busy working on tasks IN their business. Smart founders find ways to delegate, automate, or spend as little time as possible on those types of tasks so that they can be more intentional about spending their time working ON the business.
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