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At a recent presentation to a group of executives, I suggested that for a business leader to be successful you must select “the right thing” to do and then do it. Indeed, it is that simple.  Yet, why is it so difficult to do? Based on my experience as an executive business coach and a successful business executive, poor time management is the biggest hurdle to success for business owners and executives.

The principle of ‘cause and effect’ governs outcomes or results in our daily lives. You cannot plant oranges and expect grapes. To enhance revenue, you must identify revenue growth as a critical outcome during a given time frame. Plan your strategies with consequential ‘to do’ items and then focus your effort on completing the ‘to do’ items yourself or through delegation.

Trying harder is not necessarily the solution to achieving more. You see, it may not offer any real solution; in fact, it is a bigger part of the problem. Understanding where you spend your time and how that affects business performance is critical. Entrepreneurship is your ability to convert your knowledge, ingenuity, and efforts through investment of your time into money. Effective time management has three key components: self-mastery, planning mastery, and delegation mastery.

Self-mastery: The true issue does not lie within time management but rather in self-mastery. Practicing self-discipline requires you to work only on critical issues you must do as the leader. You must work on what is important rather than what is urgent. When an issue moves from being important to being urgent, it is too late.

As the owner and leader, prioritize your goals into categories A, B and C, with A’s as the most important. A and B tasks are critical issues that are central to the core of your business plan, both current and strategic. First complete A tasks and then B tasks if time permits. C tasks should always be delegated. Ask yourself, “What am I worth per hour?” Then, decide if you should be performing the given task at hand.

Planning Mastery: You develop an action plan of “to do” items that you need to execute. Put a dollar amount on the task and decide if it is important for you to do. Remember, keep it simple.

Plan your work and work your plan. Divide your yearly business plan into 90 day increments and develop your action plan. Focus on the #1 issue before you focus on #10.

Delegation Mastery:

  • Delegate but don’t abdicate.
  • Have key performance indicators in place to measure results.
  • Provide enough reasons to get the job done, including resources and training.
  • Do not let your direct reports “run into quick sand”.
  • Have good systems and processes in place. Systematize the routine and humanize the exception.

ActionCOACH defines a business as a “commercial profitable enterprise that works without the owner”. As a business evolves to the level where it works without the owner, he/she can make a passive income from the business. With passive income, the business owner now allows money to work for him/her instead of working for money. This is the opportunity for the business owner to transition to being an entrepreneur and duplicate his/her successes with other businesses.

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