When it’s time to invest, three steps bring growth

In my last column, Stop Wasting Time and Start Making Money, we refuted the old saying that “time is money” by showing that all businesses exist to do just two things, that is, make current customers happy — and doing it profitably — and get new customers.

Time, properly invested, is what makes current customers happy and gets new customers by creating and refining the customer’s experience. It is time, not money, that allows evaluation and refining of price, cost, and profits. Time investments lead employees and manage the systems that generate, compound, and catapult growth. In today’s column I will expand our discussion of time: its power to grow your business and how to tap into it.

Time, properly invested, grows business just like money compounds in a high-yield mutual fund — but with one key difference. A mutual fund’s return is based on the stocks that make up the fund. In business, growth hinges on the time decisions made by the leader. Consider a typical business owned by John.

John’s business is stuck; it generates $150,000 in annual revenue but is neither growing nor shrinking. It’s stuck because it is not using time effectively; it just keeps doing the same things over and over and, not surprisingly, reaps the same results year after year.

Now, take a look at how John’s time decisions could grow his business if he simply makes each minute an investment in the future:

You might be asking, what is a time decision and how does it make a business grow.

A time decision is just like money in the sense that you can invest it or waste it. Time investments are activities that do one of two things — make current customers happy (profitably), and get new customers. By maximizing time invested on these two activities, business leaders unleash the power of compounding growth: doubling, even tripling business in a relatively short period of time!

But says the overworked business owner: “I’m swamped! Where do I find the time to invest?”

Follow these three steps to turn time wasters into time investments. Here’s how John did it.

For starters, John focused on how he and his employees could better use their limited time to make current customers happy (profitably), and get new customers. He knew that time investments were made in small increments that add up. Five minutes per business day equal 20 hours per year. Two hours per week is 104 hours — more than 2 1/2 workweeks annually.

From there, John analyzed his business’s daily activities to find time wasters. Almost immediately he found 52 hours per year in the 20 minutes he and his two employees spent discussing sports and their weekends each Monday morning.

This was just the beginning. In the first month, John found more than 10 hours per week — more than three months per year that were not being used to make customers happy (profitably) or get new customers.

Armed with this knowledge, John turned the wasted time into invested time. Employees now used each 20-minute Monday morning “quarterback” session to remind customers of upcoming appointments. John invested his 20 minutes calling his larger customers to thank them for their business, check on their service quality, and, of course, ask for referrals.

When a customer did miss an appointment, instead of drinking coffee, the employee made courtesy calls to the previous day’s customers.

John outsourced the three weekly hours his wife, Sue, spent on the company’s books and payroll and invested it in customer relations. Sue developed a monthly email newsletter, and sent strategically timed coupons and reminders. She even tracked the dates new customers first arrived and mailed them anniversary cards. Customers who had not returned in awhile were sent “miss you” cards with an extra-special coupon.

This was just the beginning for John. Simple changes in the way his business used time cost John nothing in terms of dollars. But these time investments started the process that compound revenues – just like a high yield mutual fund.

What to grow your business? Follow the same three steps as John.

Stop wasting time and start making money.

— Brett Hersh is the owner of Growth Strategies, LLC. He can be reached at 304- 267-2594 or hbsbusiness@aol.com.

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