I am the ultimate DIYer. But over the last year, I’ve learned I just can’t do everything myself and build a profitable business. My time is as much an asset to my business as my accounts receivable. It was time to value my time.
So, I’m learning to spend my time wisely – using it for the things I do best and love, and saving time to serve my clients. Because if I waste my time doing things I can easily outsource, I’m actually doing myself and my clients a disservice.
It’s Easy to Waste My Time
How did I get into the pickle of not using my time wisely? First, I love to learn how to do new things and want to understand how things work. So I get easily distracted by all the new tools I can use to run my business and to build websites.
Seriously – I could spend several hours a day in training classes, researching, or playing around with a new tool and not get bored. However, then I lose time to market or actually do my work.
So I began to feel stressed and overwhelmed, as if I just didn’t have enough time to do everything I needed and wanted to do. After some self-reflection, I began to think, “Do I really need to do everything I think I do, or can someone else do it?”
A Moment of Clarity
Several months ago, I had an “aha” moment. It started with some simple math and ended with a more intrinsic evaluation of my time. I assigned a dollar value to my lost time, as if I were billing my business for the time. Then, I thought about all I could do if I got that time back, not in terms of money, but in terms of progress on my business plan, helping my clients, taking time off, and my peace of mind.
Once I started thinking about my lost time in terms of a cost to my business and an almost even greater cost to my psyche, I changed my approach to how I get things done.
As a first step, I categorized my activities into things I love to do, things I don’t like to do, things I’m good at, and things I need help doing. Then, I started looking at those activities that I either don’t like to do or need help doing and how I could get some help with those activities. Here’s how it worked out.
The Other Side of Being Frugal
I’m frugal. I don’t want to spend money if I don’t have to. As a start-up, I need to watch my costs. I understand all to well that income needs to exceed expenses if I am to build a successful business. My first instinct is to NOT sign up for that new tool or service, if even it’s only a few dollars a month. Instead, I think “I can do that myself and save some money.” I’ve come to realize this was faulty thinking.
Things I Don’t Like to Do
Not long after I started this process of examining my time, I learned about a little social media campaign manager, MissingLettr. It creates year-long social media campaigns from blog posts. This appealed to me. Honestly, social media exhausts me. But, I understand that using social media is a key marketing tool for my business.
So I tested out the free version of MissingLettr first, and really liked it. It was easy to use, it was fast, and it just worked for me. The tool helped me keep my blog posts in front of people – something I needed.
So I looked into signing up for a premium service. I chose the plan at $15 per month, which made sense to me. That plan offered just about everything I needed, and $15 each month was a bargain compared to the time I lost without the service. Plus, if I used that extra time to network I’d probably work with at least one more client during the year! Even better, the tool took something off my plate I didn’t like to do. The tool really helps my business and is money well spent.
Running a website business involves lots of moving parts. I was spending a lot of time testing a variety of free tools, weighing the costs, and figuring out how to integrate them all. Somehow, it felt like I was doing more work than necessary by working with so many tools.
So I invested in a robust CRM (Customer Database) that puts most of the moving parts I need into one place. Yes, it is one more monthly fee, but it stopped the constant distraction of finding a better tool. And it helped me focus on actually building my systems instead of trying to figure out what tool to use to get the job done.
The Business of Running a Business
I had little idea when I started this business what I was getting into in terms of running and setting up a website design mini-agency. I have spent countless hours in Facebook Groups and forums with other web designers trying to glean from the discussions there what systems they use to get the job done smoothly and efficiently for their clients.
Then, I tried to set up those systems myself, only to find out it was more complicated than I thought. However, I knew I needed systems in place for the business to work. So my stress levels increased as I felt lost trying to put the systems together.
Getting Help with Systems
Because I realized the struggle with setting up systems for my business was becoming a time suck, I decided to get some help. I signed up for some business coaching for web designers. Yes, it was a huge investment, but the value I received from it has been well worth it:
- I have a proven framework for setting up my business
- I’m more focused in my business operations
- I’m more confident about my work
- I’ve saved countless hours of time
Outsourcing To Other Professionals
My clients often need help with graphic design. However, I’m not a graphic designer. I could learn to be one, but I’m more focused on building the most effective websites I can and improving those skills. Yet, I want to provide my clients with a simple and seamless website building experience.
So, I decided to outsource this work to a graphic designer, but include it as part of my website services. This way, I’m no longer spending hours designing a logo, and my clients get high quality service without having to hire multiple professionals themselves. I call this a win-win.
The End Result
While I can’t produce a spreadsheet that shows exactly how much money I’ve saved by saving time, or draw a direct relationship between these changes and a more profitable business, I know I have benefited greatly. First, I’m simply getting more done that helps my clients and my business. I’m no longer spinning wheels or chasing the latest shiny object that will improve my business.
Second, I’m more confident than ever about my business and my future. Somehow, by letting go of the need to do everything myself and acknowledging that it’s okay to get help, I felt better about myself. This confidence carries over in how I interact with clients and how I market my business. I know that can’t but help me.
Finally, learning to value my time helped me value the time other people give me. Whether we give time thoughtlessly, with intent or even under duress, we are giving part of ourselves when we spend our time. I no longer want to take time for granted, whether it is my time or your time. Our time is valuable.