One of our neighbours – and I hope he doesn’t read this – spends hours of his time and quite possible six to eight hours a week cleaning and polishing his car. He seems to get a new car every year. I am sure anyone would find it satisfying to have a lovely shiny new car outside the house, but why spend all that time? No one will notice from any distance the odd speck or two. He won’t preserve the value any better. It seems a terrible waste of time.
Of course, it is not for me to say what he should do with the extra six to eight hours, but that is practically a working day a week. He could make something if he were good with his hands. He could do voluntary work. He could make some money with an eBay business. He would still have a nice shiny car and achieve something valuable for himself or for someone else.
Our neighbour is not the only one to waste time. Many of us do it. I have been wasting time going to weekly breakfast networking meetings until the last year or so. They were not always a waste of time, but the environment for referral networking has changed. My business has changed too, so that the value of the meetings has become much less.
For me the weekly local breakfast meetings stopped working for me. I carried on too long because I enjoyed them, but in business terms that is not enough. We are in business to make money for our families. I gave a lot in terms of time, even ultimately running a networking group, and a lot in terms of referrals but with dwindling returns.
There was a point when the meetings ceased to be of much value at all. I think they do help new business owners starting out if only in overcoming shyness, as they helped me when I started a decade ago. I have stopped going to any morning meetings except the occasional local authority ones, which do at least provide an insight into local planning as it affects businesses.
Spreading our wings
My clients are now not just spread around the country, but also around the world, though rather scattered. The service my business provides is not just something which needs to be done locally. I do not need to meet every new client. We have Skype to talk, and we have Dropbox (I like Dropbox) or Google Drive or other cloud resources to exchange large documents where email does not quite suffice, and my web-based content marketing attracts the work. In addition on-line networking and social media provide opportunities for me to refer my friends and clients as well as receive referrals.
Although I have cut down local networking it does not mean I have no local business. I value my local clients and my main source of local new business is referrals from them and from the old-fashioned medium of paper advertising. I have one ad that works, and one only. The secret is that it appears in a monthly publication every single month, so that if potential clients have thrown away the last edition, they know they can find my business in the next one.
Bringing home the bacon
Not going to breakfast meetings saves me twelve or fourteen hours a month, which I use for paid value-sold work and in on-line marketing. I could use some time saved to clean my car, but not that many hours a month.
I think we all need to watch out for work time slipping into a black hole of waste. How can we make our businesses more efficient? What isn’t working for us?
How have you saved time in your business?