Your time has value, use it wisely

One of the difficulties in being involved in a small business is knowing what to delegate and knowing what to do yourself.

Many owners/managers will realize something has to be done and rather than having someone else do it, will decide “it’s easier to just do it myself”. In many cases, it IS easier to do it yourself rather than teaching someone else how to do it but there are a few questions you must ask yourself when these situations arise:

Is this something that will come up again and again and if so, by training someone else to do the task, will that save time in the long run?
What else could you be doing instead of this task? Might your time be better utilized doing something else (opportunity cost)?
If you delegate to someone else, might you be giving that other person an opportunity to grow which they wont get if they aren’t trained?

Because people don’t value their time properly, they frequently get bogged down doing things they could/should delegate to others.

An example of this is a company I know. They decided 6 months ago they needed a new design of their web site. For 6 months, they have had meetings, conference calls, hired consultants to teach them about search engine optimization and finally, they are preparing their RFP. Based on the time table of their RFP, if everything goes as planned, they will launch their new site almost exactly one year after deciding they needed a new site. My conservative estimate is they will have 100 hours of partners time in this process before ever getting a new site (this estimate is probably very low). How much could they have billed in the time spent on this process? Combine this lost revenue with the expenses incurred with the process (consultants etc) and they will have to pay a lot more for their web site than they should in order to justify the expenses already paid. The alternative would have been to hire someone to run this process for them. They would have saved money, billed more hours and had this web site up and running (and generating income) months ago. It’s simply a matter of understanding the value of time.

We make these decisions regarding the value of time every day. Should I mow my own lawn or hire someone else to do so? Should I do my own marketing or hire someone else to do so? Should I drive myself to a meeting or is my time better spent working longer and then flying? Without knowing the value of our time, it’s difficult to make these decisions.

When you do know the value of your time, you might still choose to do something that goes against the logical decision. It might make more sense to hire someone to mow your lawn allowing you to spend that time working (and making more money) but if you find mowing the lawn to be relaxing, it might make sense to do that yourself. It might make sense to occasionally to do things that someone else can do as well and cheaper in order to keep yourself understanding the process. If I remember correctly, McDonald corporate staff all will work in a restaurant for short periods of time to make sure they understand what is being asked of others. In other words, there are reasons to choose not to delegate responsibilities even when it might make sense to do so financially. The key is to make sure you are making the choice based on accurate information.

Have a great day!

Lawrence

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