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I looked at my calendar, and 75% of the month was color-coded blue. I knew that was very bad.
Blue on my calendar=client work. And me doing client work is bad for my business. If I had to guess, you doing client work is bad for your business too.
I’ve been color-coding my calendar for 2 years now and it’s been a huge eye-opener as to where my time is being spent. At a glance, at the end of a week or a month, I can get a good feel for what I’ve been doing. Not to mention, it helps me complete the activity I dread the most: filling out my weekly timesheets.
But more than making my calendar look pretty, the color coding is an informal-ish leading Key Performance Indicator. My litmus test is simple:
Business Development, Family, & Working on the Business= GOOD
Client work & Admin.= BAD
When I see blue on my calendar, I know that I’m stunting our long-term growth by not doing the right things to move us as a company forward. I have a really, really talented staff. But while I was pitching in, reconciling accounts and doing assessments, I was taking care of today, when I really should have been focusing on activities that impact tomorrow.
When you work in your business- DOING the work, you aren’t spending time DEVELOPING the work. That means less focus on marketing, and less time to spend on strategy, planning and taking action to help your business grow. In other words, it’s not good for the long-term health of your company, that is, if you want your company to grow.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking that if you do the work, you will make better margins on the business. It may be a short-term bump, but in the long term, it can tank your company. By doing the work, you deny your staff the opportunity to learn and get different experiences, and, I’ll give you a hint… in many cases they are better at the work than you are.
And eventually, when you finally come up for air after doing all the work, you realize you don’t have anything in the pipeline to work on next. So you put down your pencil and pick up your sales hat and go try to win your next deal. That, my friends, makes business life really, really hard.
If you are a 1-person company, well, your options are limited. You have to do the work AND develop it. However, if you are looking to build a scalable company, then you are going to need to step aside and start outsourcing some “today” tasks so you can focus on “tomorrow” tasks.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase of working ON your business not IN it. The phrase is most attributed to Michael Gerber, author of The E-myth Revisited. I think his book should be handed out with every certificate of incorporation and partnership agreement and be mandatory reading for anyone who is considering starting a company. Michael’s philosophy is that you need to develop systems and processes so that the business can run without you, and that means not doing the work, but delegating, making your business less dependent upon you. If you haven’t read it, you should.
So the next time you are tempted to do client work, stop and think about the long-term impacts of it. And, while you are at it, try adding a little color to your calendar. You might be surprised where you are spending your time.
Do you agree or disagree? Is doing client work bad for your business?