How efficient are you?

November 11, 2009

in Entrepreneurship

@BradleyWill wrote an article on Unstrappd.com titled The Wake to Faint Principal where he discusses the Entrepreneur mindset of having what he calls an everyday “Hell Week”.  Meaning, entrepreneurs are the type of people that work much more and much harder on a daily basis to succeed in their business ventures.

I couldn’t agree more.  Entrepreneurs are Type-A people and typically workaholics and they are willing to put in that extra mile to achieve success.  Brad says  “I am literally going to outwork you every single day of the week.  That is what makes me so different and why I win in the game of business.  I will stay up later than you, get up earlier than you, skip meals if I have to.  This is how I am made.”

Entpreneurs are like competitive athletes…their game, “Business”.

All of this is great and definitely looks good if you have the time, but what happens when you have much more to juggle?  What happens when you have a wife and kids?  What needs to happen is efficiency.  Now the tables turn and you have to produce 12-14 hours of work in 10 hours.  How do you do this?

In a comment to Brad, I jotted down some things that make me and my company efficient.

Let me explain what happened with us and how our company as a whole worked to be more efficient and in turn more profitable. First off, we own/operate Loadsys which is a web development company. When we started, we were putting in the 12+ hours just to pay the bills and barely taking home any pay. This seems crazy right, well you find you spend a lot more time experimenting in the early days. Experimenting with marketing, taking on type of work you have never done before, etc… So, a lot of your time is unbillable. You take on jobs just to get them and you sometimes end up bidding low. So, here are a list of items that we have done overtime.

1) As our company evolved, we started to only take on projects that excited us. Of course this takes time to get to, but once you get to that point you find that you naturally are more efficient because your morale is up. So, “Do what you love, love what you do”

2) Don’t cheat yourself out. Charge a rate that makes you profitable but is still competitive. Money is a key factor to keeping the amount of hours you work a day down. So, charging a rate that covers your expenses and churns a profit is key.

3) Find a good daily management tool. We use Basecamp http://www.basecamphq.com for project management, but we also use it to manage internal task such as marketing, accounting, etc… Use a program like Online Quickbooks to manage your financials for your company. It will make a world of difference. Also, use it to do payroll, it makes it very fast.

4) Physical meetings are a thing of the past. Virtualize as much as possible and bill people for physical meetings.

5) Only turn Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.. for specific portions that you plan out for the day. For example, I typically look at social networking items for an hour or less in the morning, a half hour at the end of the day, and sometimes during my lunch while I single fist an apple. This also holds true for email. One problem I have is that I am good at multi-tasking, but it is also my enemy because I get distracted. Email is a big distraction on top of social applications. Try to check your email once per hour if you need to check it more frequently.

6) Organize your tasks into “Must Get Done” down to “Not extremely important if I don’t get done” You will find that if you get the most important items done first and out of the way, your morale is up and you actually become more efficient.

7) Plan out tasks before you work on them. Setting aside time to do this actually will make the task itself go by much quicker. In our field we have what is called “Analysis and Design”. This is the phase before actual work on a project starts. It helps you clearly define the goals and requirements for a project. This can also hold true at the elemental task level, because you now will have a clear idea of what you need to get done and how you plan to get it done.

8 ) Re-use as much as possible. In our case, we our developers, so our re-use is obvious. We chose a framework called CakePHP to build web applications because it allows us to build libraries and plugins that we can easily re-use from project to project. We can now knock out projects in half the time we could a year ago.

9) A happy home makes a happy entpreneur. Even with being an entrepreneur, you have to find time to have with your family, this is why it is cruical to become more efficient. But, even this quality time by itself makes you more efficient because it too boosts your morale. This holds true even if you don’t have a family. Make time for close friends, because as an entrepreneur, before you know it your friends start to become very distant because of your lack of time for them.

This is what I have off the top of my head. Daily you should evaluate what you are doing and how you can be more efficient at it. Small tweaks in all directions can be the deciding factor to whether your company will turn a profit or if you will break even while giving yourself high blood pressure in the process.

At the end of the day, us entrepreneurs can work ourselves to death, but we have to also get time to keep our regular lives in check.  Being efficient is the best way to achieve that.

  • rgeneral01

    Excellent write up Lee! In today's world you need to be able to keep cost down and still produce a quality product, that's the bottom line.

    -Randy Barber

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