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The Line Between Success and Failure Can Be Expressed in Five Words

5 March, 2019

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By Bill Silverman

I read a great anonymous quote recently that I think is important for every business owner to consider: “The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: ‘I did not have time.’”

Not having enough time is one of the most common complaints that I hear from business owners. But when I ask owners what they do each day, the most common reply I get is “I do everything!” “Everything” includes things like fighting fires, running supplies to your crews when they need something and a variety of administrative tasks like paying bills and typing estimates. These “everything” activities eat up your day and keep you from doing the things you need to do to grow your business.

To be effective in running your business you need to spend a healthy percentage of your time on important activities that directly impact your business success. Things like planning, marketing, sales, employee development, structuring the work so that it runs smoothly and managing and coaching your team. Do you have enough time in your week to do these activities? I didn’t think so!

So, because much of your time is spent doing things that don’t help make your business more successful, your business and profit growth may slow or stop. And the root cause is that you are spending too much time on low value “everything” activities. 

To maximize your impact and return on investment from every hour you spend working, you need to eliminate time you spend on low-value activities (activities that someone lower down the pay scale could do just as well) and use that time instead on the important activities that only you can do to drive your business forward.   

“You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” -Charles Bruxton

Here's an exercise that I use with my clients that I'd like you to do to help you make time for the important work that will make your business better and more successful.

  1. Make a list of all the tasks that you do (big and small) during the day.
    There are two ways to make this list:
    1. From memory. Think back on the last couple of days and list everything that you did and the time you spent on each. Be honest with yourself and Include things like fighting fires, handling customer complaints and running errands. You will probably have a long list.
    2. Track your time. When you do it from memory you forget a lot. A better way to assess where your time goes it to track your time during the day for a few days. To do daily time tracking, just set your phone’s timer to ring every hour. Then when the timer goes off take a couple of minutes to write down in detail what you did during the last hour and how much time you spent on each activity. This will give you a more complete list of everything you really do during your day.
  2. Assign a value to each of your tasks. Now that you’ve completed your time tracking, use the categories below to assign a value to the business of each task.
    1. CGA = Client Generating Activities (activities that have the potential to bring in clients and extra revenue; including sales conversations, follow-up with prospects, client-producing marketing activities)
    2. LV = Long-Term Value (activities that will not result in short-term revenue but are strategic and benefit the long-term success of the business like planning, creating systems to make your business work better, developing programs or new services)
    3. PSD = Paid Service Delivery (working with customers on projects for which you get paid)
    4. LD = Low Dollar Per Hour (administrative tasks, accounting, errands, shopping, low priority emails. This includes any tasks that could be delegated to an assistant)
    5. ZD = Zero Dollar Per Hour (surfing the net, non-strategic time on Facebook, calling friends to chat, personal email)
  3. Sort your tasks into three columns:
    1. The first column includes the work that is high value or requires your special talents knowledge, skills and abilities.
    2. The second column includes the PSD tasks.
    3. The third column includes everything else.
  4. Answer the questions below to draw some conclusions about how you spend your time:
    1. What do you notice about where you spend your time?
    2. What tasks can you systematize and delegate to others?
    3. What tasks and time wasters can you stop doing?
    4. What activities using your talents, knowledge skills and abilities would you like to focus more time on?
    5. What is your current job description? What do you want your job description to be going forward?
    6. How can you spend your time differently to better benefit the business?
  5. Map out the action steps will you take based on what you learned here

ACTION STEP                                                                                                        COMPLETION DATE


Spend time to make time

Do you know the saying “You have to spend money to make money”? Well the same is true for time. Sometimes you have to “Spend time to make time.” This exercise will take a bit of your time, but clients who have completed the entire exercise have “found” 5 to 10 hours a week unproductive time that they’ve been able to redeploy to make their businesses better and have a little more balance in their lives.

I think that’s time well spent! Don’t you?

Bill Silverman is the owner of Springboard Business Coaching. He is dedicated to helping you propel your business to the next level of growth and profit while you work less. He can be reached at (856) 751-1989 or



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