The dangers of being too available

The dangers of being too available

Posted by Claire White ¦ 18th July, 2016 ¦ Business Skills

As business owners we all know how important it is to spend an amount of time each day on 'getting and keeping customers'.  So why aren't more of us adopting the behaviour that we know will make us more successful? The answer is one of two things...

  1. Either the growth and success of the business is simply not important enough to us, or

  2. We're suffering from acute 'presenteeism'.
     

Question

 How do you know if you are 'in' your business too much of the time?

Answer

Because you're perpetually busy but still not getting the big things done!

Here are just a few of the side effects that come from being too involved in the day to day tasks of your business:

  • Missed opportunities
  • Loss of profit
  • Increased stress
  • A feeling of failure
  • Frustrations and unhappiness
  • And in serious cases - total failure

The fact is that many of us are handling tasks and spending far too much time every day on things that are restricting the growth of our business.
 

Try the Acid Test

With pen and paper in hand, list everything you did the last full day you were at work .  Try and get into the real detail - be honest with yourself.  If you're not honest, then the only person you'll be fooling is you.

Now review your list and ask yourself

  1. Which of these activities actually 'makes' me money?
  2. Which of these tasks can 'only' be done by me?

Be careful not to fall into the 'but no-one can do these things as well as me, so only I can do them' trap. It's that sort of thinking that will stop you from reaching super-success. 

As a business owner it's essential to concentrate a portion of your time each day on getting and keeping customers, and it's just as essential not to keep putting this off in favour of doing the day job.  Yes of course, the day job still needs doing, but without time spent on development you'll be in exactly the same position this time 5 years from now.  

Have you ever stopped to consider what might happen if you haven't done any work on growing the business and you then lose one of your biggest customers?  What do you have in the pipeline to fill the revenue gap?

So now we've established that spending time every day on the getting and keeping of customers is vital if you want to grow your business...
 

Consider this

  • How easy is it for your customers to get hold of you personally?  
  • Do your team have constant access to you?

Ah, I hear you say. This is where I score my brownie points because I know my clients love that they can get hold of me at any time, and my team love that I'm always on hand to refer to.  

BUT STOP! Perhaps that's the wrong way to look at things?

'But I want customers to be able to get hold of me all the time, that's why they like our service, because I'm so accessible.  And I pride myself on 'being there' for my team - they need me!'

Mmm... Let's look at the facts.

Fact #1

Most business owners spend the vast majority of their day reacting to other people's agendas.

Fact #2

Most businesses fail to achieve their potential because the owner's time is almost entirely dictated by events and people around them.

For most businesses, giving great customer service is what keeps the customers coming back for more. So we know that we're on the right track there. But it doesn't have to be the business owner that gives that great service.  Consider... if you can instantly get hold of the owner of a business what message does that send to you? 
 

Which of these growth inhibiting activities are you doing on a regular basis?

  • Answering calls - name one super-successful business owner that answers the phone on their main business number.
  • Tinkering - are you constantly pottering around with things instead of having periods of concentrated effort?
  • Control freakery - saying no-one does things quite as well as me (heard that before?)
  • Constant Inbox monitoring - remember there is no such thing as an urgent email - if someone really needs to get hold of you they'll call
  • Low level stuff - all the things that need doing but don't actually move the business forward (and should therefore be done by someone else)
  • Team talk - if your staff need constant access to you to do their job, what are you paying them for?
     

​So what can you do to improve things?

To be successful in business it's crucial that you spend a portion of every day on the 'getting and keeping of customers' - 90 minutes a day has been shown to be long enough for sufficient progress but short enough for concentration.

But to be really successful you need to remove yourself from the doing of the day to day business.  You need a plan and you need help.
 

Making a plan

Here are some great tips to help you obtain and make the most of your business development time.

  1. Block out time in your diary several months in advance and STICK TO IT.  It's essential that people around you see you sticking to your rules - otherwise they'll be quick to break them for you.
  2. Have short, stand up team meetings with your team once a week, where everyone knows what's going on and the part they're there to play.
  3. Be really clear with your team, family - anyone who takes up your time - as to WHY uninterrupted time is so important to you.  It will also help them to know when you're available so they can plan their own time too.
  4. Turn off your email & set specific times during the day to check your Inbox.
  5. Close your office door during your focused time - even put a sign on saying you're not to be disturbed. Nothing says come in and chat like an open door!
  6. Work on one thing at once - plan what you're going to work on the night before so that when you start you'll be immediately focused. (NB - make sure your email is turned off so that when you hit your desk next, you're not instantly distracted or tempted to have a quick check).
     

Getting Help

What sort of help could free up your time to do what only you can do - the getting and keeping of customers?

  • A call answering service
  • A PA or Virtual Assistant (VA)
  • A Bookkeeper
  • An accountability partner (to help you stay on track)
  • A social media manager
  • A salesperson
  • A web developer
  • A delivery driver

It's simply not possible to build a really successful business by doing everything yourself; by constantly reacting to people and events (including your customers); by being constantly available and by keeping hold of all the small tasks.
 

Remember...

If you regularly do everything in your business yourself, then it could be said you don't actually have a business - you just have a job with a lot of bosses! For sure, getting help will cost you money, but the likelihood is that they will do things faster than you as it's their specialism, and their time will be less expensive than yours. And remember that the ultimate cost of you using your precious time to do things that you could delegate, is the negative effect this has on the growth of your business, your bottom line and your future.


Top Tip

The eMyth Revisited, by Michael Gerber, is an excellent book that supports this theory. Read my review of the book here.


So what is the activity in your business that you find most difficult to delegate? Do you want to free up your time but are struggling with 'letting go' of the day to day work? I'd love to read your comments below.

Claire White
Business Support & Development Partner

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