John D Rockefeller, a man who commanded incredible amounts of money, once said: “Those who have leisure time to spend pursuing their passions and dreams experience the real wealth in life.”
Knowing how to spend time is a more valuable skill than knowing how to make, manage, invest and spend money. It is wise for entrepreneurs, who want to be truly successful, to master the use of their precious and irreplaceable time. What I have found most interesting is those who know how to manage, budget and save time – rather than letting it manage them – will always find it easier to make money.
Learning how to lop 10 hours off a typical work week without sacrificing any income may take practice, but it’s easier and faster to accomplish than most people think with these three steps.
Step One: Fire Extraneous Customers
The first rule of any time management system is to utilise the time we are allotted most wisely. As the saying goes; Time is money. The thief to be most wary of is the one who steals our time.
So the rather controversial first step is to eliminate wasted time on customers who tie up sales representatives with inconsequential sales, steal your valuable time with constant complaining and waste your accountant’s time chasing them for payment. You need to either get rid of them or transform them into customers who proactively feed the bottom line. While this approach may sound radical, it makes practical sense to only focus on customers who respond with profitable transactions.
Firing customers may involve deleting dead-end leads from the client database. Or it may mean sending customers or clients to a business that more appropriately matches their price demands. Or you could adjust the magnets that are attracting those unwanted customers in the first place. Examples of this are discounts, freebies or products in the business that are not related to the core business model. Concentrate solely on products and services that produce the most profit and cull the dead weight ones that don’t contribute their share to the bottom line. You could spin those lines off as stand-alone businesses and sell them to another entrepreneur or upgrade to premium versions that offer higher profit margins. Profit is always the goal and is the most important barometer of success.
Step Two: Double the Conversion Rates of Transactions
Money is a fabulous timesaver and those who know how to make money more efficiently can leverage it to carve out more time for themselves. The key to increasing profits is to convert unprofitable interactions into profitable ones. This is a foolproof formula for saving more hours each day without compromising productivity or earnings.
It does not have to take slow years to make the money needed to free up an extra 10 hours a week. Bear in mind that the road may be long, but those with a faster stride arrive at the desired destination much quicker. Most people crawl toward retirement. Innovative entrepreneurs sprint there in record time.
If you invest in a mutual fund or pension plan and it may take decades to get enough of a nest egg to make it possible to semi-retire and take 10 hours off each week to play golf or spend time with family. However, increasing profits in a business can be done in a matter of days or weeks.
To prepare for your profit-boosting initiative, gather accounting data and metrics to get a clear picture of where your profits come from, how many contacts are made with customers each month and how many customers make actual purchases. An easy way to harvest such information is by using software connected to point-of-sale terminals or cash registers.
Next, launch a marketing and advertising push to generate new customer leads, to encourage existing customers to buy more and to promote the most profitable products or services.
Part of this effort should involve a new way of looking at the business model. Most entrepreneurs see the future of their companies in terms of products and services that fill a particular market need or niche. Find the right merchandise and the customers will come. Build the best resort and it will be booked a year in advance. Invent a better mousetrap and make millions. Another way to view the marketplace of opportunity is to reverse that point of view. Instead of looking for the ideal items to sell, invest in purchasing the loyalty of the perfect customer. Rather than chasing market share, chase “wallet share” or more profitable customer-based transactions. No matter what a business sells, it’s ultimately the customers and how many times they spend money that generates the profits.
Invest in attracting and retaining good customers and the rest will take care of itself automatically. Instead of reinventing the wheel, find out who is buying wheels and make them your steady customers. Then sell them a premium wheel with a wider profit margin. Finally, ask clients to bring in their friends so that you can sell them a set of wheels too.
Once an expanding customer base is established, use incentives such as superior customer service, in-house financing, exclusive product lines and preferential customer perks to inspire clients to double the number of their monthly transactions.
Try up-selling customers to premium products. Cross-sell them to accessories or add-on features. Even down-sell to them by offering a more economical version of the product they can’t yet afford so that they don’t take their business to a competitor. At the same time, continually make a choreographed effort to generate fresh leads for potential new customers.
Here’s an example based on a goal of wanting to work 10 hours less without sacrificing productivity or profits. For the purpose of our example, we will assume that the business is open 40 hours per week or approximately 160 hours per month.
To gain 10 hours off each week without losing money, it is necessary to reap 40 hour’s worth of extra profits per month. One week is 25 percent of a 4-week month. So to gain 10 hours per week it is necessary to increase conversion rates – in other words sales and profits – by 25 percent.
Do it by attracting more customers, by making an extra quarter of profit margin on each rand or by lowering overheads by 25 percent. Get rid of customers who are wasting 25 percent of employee time. Cut out discount coupons and unnecessary giveaways and institute in-house financing to capture extra sales and interest rate revenues. There are numerous ways to gain that extra 25 percent and to free up an extra 10 hours per week.
Step Three: Run Your Businesses on Auto-Pilot
Now the business owner has enviable options. One possibility is to close down the business for 10 hours each week, take time off and settle for making the same amount of money per month that was generated before boosting profits by 25 percent.
Another alternative is to leverage that newfound success for progressive changes and forward momentum. You can maintain the same hours of operation, capture the extra 25 percent in profits and then wisely reinvest those profits in greater timesaving initiatives.
By working smarter – not harder – through organized systems, cutting edge technology, innovative advertising and dynamic employee training, you can prepare to put the business into the hands of capable others – which is the next step toward personal freedom. If somebody else is running the store – without any loss of productivity – it is possible for you to literally play golf all day without loss of income.
Want More Productive Employees? It’s Time To Get Physical, Together
Exercising with your employees can help to keep them productive, energised and motivated, while strengthening your team both physically and mentally
There’s a growing awareness that health is a huge contributor to people’s productivity at work, both in terms of mental health and physical health.
But getting employees to exercise in their own time, using their own motivation, can be challenging. How then, do we get them off their office chairs and get their heart rates going, in a fun and inspirational way? Doing it together may be the key.
Five Benefits to Team Exercise:
If you’re running a race alone, it can be very easy to simply stop, because all you’re letting down is yourself. But if you’ve got a team mate cheering you on from the other side, waiting for you to pass them that baton, you’ll be that much more motivated to carry on.
The same applies to a game of volleyball, ten pin bowling or even a group obstacle course. The Fedhealth IMPI challenge has a corporate race over a distance of 10 – 12km, which includes 18 obstacles that will be hugely motivating to everyone competing. This event is held throughout the country from early April, featuring a variety of obstacles that foster teamwork and build morale.
2. Level Playing Field
In a corporate situation it can become very much an “us and them” scenario, where management sits in their ivory towers and is far removed from the day-to-day running of the business, and the people who perform these tasks.
Group exercise makes everyone equal: placing them on a level playing field where they can converse, get to know each other and work together.
It’s a case of: leave your job titles and organograms in the office, get on your tackies and have some fun! Tiffini Wissing, Fedhealth member and founder of Cool Kids’ Cabs agrees, saying: “I love obstacle courses…I even took my entire team at the office which included 30 ladies from management, our cleaners and our drivers to do one!”.
You’ll be amazed by how a different context can bring out qualities in people you may have never expected.
They may be quiet as a mouse around the board room table, but put people in a challenging physical situation, such as having to get 10 people over a three metre high wall, and you could see new leaders emerging.
Team sports and activities can highlight people’s attributes in a surprising way, and help you learn more about the individuals who make up your company.
Getting people to try new things is one way of showing them their true potential, and this can extend into their careers too. If they achieve a task that they formerly thought impossible, like running 2km through the mud, or wading through a river holding on to a rope, they are highly likely to take this mindset into the office.
Tiffini says: “My staff absolutely loved it and hated me for it simultaneously! It was so empowering for so many of them who never in a million years thought they’d be able to do anything like it.”
There’s no doubt that getting your staff members to team up and complete a fun activity together has multiple health benefits.
Boundaries, You And Success: Why They All Are Connected (And Why You Need To Choose Wisely)
Have you ever calculated how many of your 24hrs you are in “work-mode” – whether thinking, doing, commuting to meetings or responding to a quick mail at a family braai?
I have noticed that many people, at one point or another, struggle to find time to cope with the demands of modern day life, especially as we are surrounded by technology. We are all ‘expected’ to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of our personal lives and professional careers. But in reality, it is a very tough task.
In a study done by OECD, reveals that:
1 in every 8 employees works 50 hours or more per week.
Turkey is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with 34%, followed by Mexico with nearly 30%. In South Africa, almost 19% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 13. This is quite alarming!
The work-life challenge: A key focus area for all managers
In a previous article, I have given some pointers how you, in your role as a manager and leader, can support your team striking the sweet-spot between a healthy work-life balance.
The reality is that leaders also need to fill their own cup. Many of my clients say they feel overwhelmed by what we need to do and achieve in a day. They also say, “there is just not enough time in one day” (sounds familiar?) and sometimes they even feel run-down, frustrated or anxious.
This all boils down to BOUNDARIES.
If you are a go-getter and crave to feel less overwhelmed, consider one of these 5 suggestions:
1. Important vs urgent – make time to reflect:
Daily reflection can be a way of creating mind space as it allows one the opportunity to gain perspective on situations we find challenging. Many successful people make it a daily habit of taking time to reflect.
By reflecting, we can consider what didn’t work, acknowledge what went wrong and choose a different way to prevent it from happening again.
An easy way to start reflecting is to do a one-sentence journal every day; also list and incorporate something that you are grateful for. If you need some inspiration, Ulysses.org provides a few good sentence starters.
2. If you take on new things, consider what you’re going to park?
All we have is time. The way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. I’m a strong believer in having a growth mindset and being a life-long learner; we all should find time to pursue goals and interest outside our family and work life.
Having said that, I’m mindful that we sometimes take on too much and set ourselves up for failure. If you take on a new hobby, venture or enroll for a course, consider choosing something that you are currently doing that you can “park” for a season.
3. Learn to say no without feeling guilty
‘No’ is also an answer. The truth is: if you say no, you are in fact just taking control of your life and prioritizing what is more important to you at that current time. Warren Buffet says, “the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
Related: How To Achieve Work-Life Balance
We can’t all be “yes-people” – imagine what the world would look like? When saying no, don’t beat around the bush or offer a weak excuse; just say it. In a study done by Prof Hagtveld he suggests one uses the words “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”. The latter might sound like an excuse whilst “I don’t” implies you have established certain boundaries for yourself.
4. Choose a support system you can trust
Most working women feel trapped. They feel they need to take control of every single aspect in their lives – personal and professional… and that is exhausting! We need to remember that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.
As we successfully delegate certain tasks at work; similarly, we need to delegate duties in our personal lives as well.
Yes, the #TheJuggleIsReal, I have been there…trying to do everything myself. Being a supermom at home and being an ambitious colleague at work. I felt drained most of the time.
Related: Building Real Work Life Balance
How do you get out of this rut?
- Get a support system in place that you can rely on. It could be arranging a lift-club at school, assigning a tutor or Au pair helping the kids with homework or choosing to do your grocery shopping online.
- Discuss sharing chores with your partner; many modern partners are more open to taking on non-traditional tasks e.g. cooking dinner, doing the washing or putting the kids to bed.
- The best advice that I have received as a working mother was: “be present in the moment”. This simply means choosing to focus on what you’re doing and not allowing your mind to wander to other urgent matters. I often find that when I’m busy helping the kids with homework my mind is already busy with the presentation for the next morning. I then need to refocus and choose to concentrate on the important and not the urgent.
5. Are you clear on your vision or purpose?
Do you know why you are you getting up in the morning? If not, this can significantly impact your journey as you have nothing to align your priorities with.
In his research, Richard Leider, found that many 65-year old people said they wish they have understood their purpose earlier in life. Make time to clarify your vision as this will guide your choices.
7 Ways To Be ‘On’ Even When You’re Totally Exhausted
Trade shows can test the limits of human endurance. Here’s how to survive and thrive on your next trip.
I spent the past week representing my company at two different trade shows. I am exhausted.
The entire time I was out there, I had to be “on” while enduring the basic conference schedule: Up early for a breakfast, catch a seminar, talk to potential partners/customers at our booth instead of eating lunch, chat at coffee break “networking” sessions, circulate through cocktail parties and make lively conversation with twenty strangers packed around a dinner table. Rinse and repeat. The big question became, “How can I keep this up?”
Here’s what I learned about thriving and not collapsing at your next conference.
1. Know your pitch
When I used to work for The Metropolitan Museum of Art or Disney Theatrical, people understood who I was and what I did right away. But now I work for a start-up called Show-Score, which I need to explain. And so I learned to do in the simplest way possible.
Depending on who my audience is, Show-Score is “Rotten Tomatoes for theater” or “Trip Advisor for theater”. This saved my life. You don’t have the time or energy to give a ten-minute spiel everytime you meet someone new at a conference, so learn how to explain your business or product in one simple and intriguing phrase.
2. Don’t talk business non-stop
I’m in sales, and sometimes I worry that I sound like an endless commercial. I am passionate about my company, but no one wants to hang out with a packaged pitch.
A quick sales moment is fine on the trade floor, but when you sit down to dine or grab drinks with colleagues at the bar, what’s your go-to conversation?
I like finding out where people are from, what sports teams they like and what movies they’ve seen recently. And if you are a conference where interests are shared, lean on that. At the ticketing conference I went to, I learned so much, like how the same venue will take a completely different approach to selling tickets to a college basketball game versus selling tickets to a concert. (Okay, that may only be interesting to a ticketing nerd like me, but you get the idea).
3. Take ten minutes of Zen
I must attribute this advice to a former colleague. We may not have time to grab a power nap, but we can all grab ten minutes of alone time at some point in the day.
If you are on a conference floor, walk away from the booth, find a quiet spot and zone out for a full ten minutes. Don’t scroll through your Twitter feed, don’t check email. Just chill and rebuild your headspace.
4. Talk less, smile more
For you musical fans, you’ll get the Hamilton reference of this line. (I can’t help it, I work in theater!) But the point here is that when you’re dealing with tons of people, realise that you don’t always need to be the one talking.
Spend time listening. And smile, damn it. I have made more connections with people at conferences just by smiling at them than by talking. It usually happens during a shared experience like being stuck on an endless line trying to get Starbucks before a string of meetings starts. Or I’ll just smile at someone who looks as exhausted as I am at the end of the day. Try it and your whole mood lightens, too.
5. Wear comfortable shoes, dress your best
For women, high heels without backup flats is a rookie mistake. And for men, don’t buy new shoes right before hours on a trade floor and expect to break them in. Make sure you wear something you can easily walk around in for an entire day that makes you look professional and feel confident. Same goes for your outfit. I have a few dresses that make me feel on top of the world. A friend of mine loves to change out his pocket squares to give both his look and his confidence a boost.
6. Go easy on the booze
Yes, a conference can mean lots of cocktails but I always follow each drink with two glasses of water. Or sometimes I just fake it completely and order seltzer with lime and sip slowly.
There is always that temptation to have an all-night rager when we are on the road, but don’t forget you are there for work. Tomorrow you will need to be back “on” and a hangover is not going to help.
7. Sleep when you can
Five AM flights and time zone changes can seriously throw off your sleep schedule. So when you do finally get a chance to catch some Zs, sleep like you mean it. Plug your phone in away from your bed (the temptation of work email can wait till the morning), turn off the lights, pull the curtains closed and rest up. I almost never turn on the TV when I get back to my hotel room. The pull of late night talk shows means I get what is called “junk sleep,” which is when light and noise mess up sleep cycles and sleep-related hormone levels. You wake up exhausted and grouchy. Not exactly how you want to start an important day of networking.
And the eighth bonus tip: Remember to have fun! I have learned so much at these trade shows, made great business connections and even a few new friends. Enjoy! And smile!
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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