How To Stop Your Business From Sucking Up All Your Time

Once upon a time not too long ago I was foolish enough to write the How To Double Your Revenue and Profit article, which featured “Get a f*cking system already” as one of the pieces of advice.

The ninjas tell me that many readers are asking me how to put systems in place. I have not yet found a way to tell the ninjas that they are going make me cry and make me fire them because I hate talking about systems.

I don’t think systems are bad. They’re great. But I sure as hell don’t want to put them in place myself. That’s why I make Dave do all of that for me.

However!

I realize that there is only one Dave, and I cannot lend him out to anyone except consulting clients. So it would be very bad of me to say “Well, go find a Dave.” Can’t be had for love or money. (Well, it can definitely be had for money. But I digress.)

In the interests of actually giving you usable guidance as opposed to telling you “I hate systems”, I will give you the best basic advice I can on how to create your very first close-enough-to-systems-systems.

By “basic advice” I mean “stuff that definitely works but most people will never do,” but I will close my eyes and imagine that people will actually do it.

On we go.

First, start respecting your damn time already.

This is a great first step that can allow you to potentially avoid ever having a system in the first place. Which is why I like it.

Basically what we’re talking about here is deciding that you’re not going to give away your time for no good reason. That you’re going to actually value and respect your time because it is COSTING you something. Most of the time we are not consciously aware of the cost of our time relative to the value that’s being returned from it.

If you’re wasting your “business” time – and we’re talking businesss time, not personal time – doing something pointless, unmeasurable, or suspect in value, you are not valuing your time.

It’s like kids and money. They want candy every time you go to the store when they’re spending YOUR money, but if it’s their money, my how things change. “Well, I don’t want to spend MY money on it.”, they say.

Indeed.

When you’re spending your own money, you tend to waste it less on stupid things you don’t really want. If you’re shelling out cash and you don’t get something you definitely want in return, you’re not going to do it for long.

Not so with time. We’ll throw that stuff out the window.

Until!

One day you realize that all that time is coming out of YOUR pocket. And you don’t have the time to do the OTHER things you want to do because the way you are currently running your business is sucking up your time.

That’s a lot of unpaid overtime that’s keeping you from going to the movies, or spending time with your kids, or making love (or its reasonable facsimile) to your partner.

No one can make you value your time. But when you finally decide to, you tend to create your own systems pretty damn fast. Even if that system is “The hell with Facebook.”

(One tip? “The hell with reading IttyBiz” is a BAD system. Just saying.)

Second, work on stuff that leads to real money before you do anything else.

In the Emergency Turnaround Clinic, we talk about “closest to cash” a lot. Things like running promotions. Following up on invoices. Cold calling or cold emailing, or finishing that 90% done product, or getting that damned sales page up already.

We do this for two reasons.

First, if you work on the things that are closest to cash, you get money in your hands, which is a stellar use of time.

Second, when you get used to doing things that lead to cash, you tend to have a lot less patience for things that don’t. You stop goofing off on social media and use that time to write newsletters. You stop reading all those blogs that are mental candy and pick the three that actually are useful to you. Things like that.

Just like with respecting your time, when you work on closest to cash, you tend to create your own systems without even thinking about it. So do that.

Third, work on stuff that fixes your weaknesses.

This is completely in line with the profit leaks we talked about earlier.

Fix the major weaknesses on your website and you’ll get more people on your list.

Fix the major weaknesses in your list sign-up process and you’ll get even more people on your list.

Fix the major weaknesses in your random content strategy and get a real strategy in place that attracts more of the right people. Then you won’t have to spend so much time hustling for traffic and backlinks and retweets and Facebook likes and god knows everything else.

(Incidentally, we have live classes on all three of these topics coming out this week, so keep your eyes on your inbox. Thus ends this blatant plug for our programs.)

Make your vague branding specific enough to be relevant to people who visit your site for the first time.

Fix the typos on your about page, get help on making your sales pages better, find out where your traffic is coming from, get a more cohesive email signature, fix your customer follow-up so that you’re actually following up, get those outdated posts off your blog, clean up the sloppy formatting on your autoresponders, etc., etc., etc..

Your weaknesses are costing you sales that you SHOULD be getting.

“Picking up the money you are already dropping” is a very good system.

Before you start running off in the direction of whatever the latest webinar is telling you is hot these days, you should probably focus on fixing your weaknesses. That’s what we could call “second closest to cash.”

When you’re done with that, you can do everything else.

And thus ends the official IttyBiz almost-like-a-system-system.

Start respecting your time.

Work on closest to cash.

Then work on fixing your weaknesses.

Don’t shell out business time for anything else until that’s done.

That alone will show you every system you’ll ever need to create.

(Or close enough to it.)

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.