Of the hundreds of business people I have talked to, it is remarkable how many have frustrations concerning time. They are frustrated because there is not enough time to accomplish everything their businesses need, nor is there enough time to take care of both business and family. They list all of the things they want to do in their business and personal lives, and don’t see how there will be enough time to accomplish them.
Time Is Finite. Planning for Personal Goals Must Take This into Account.
Much of this frustration comes from a misconception concerning the nature of time. Most business owners treat time as if it were a renewable resource whereas time for the individual is quite finite. There is only so much time in a day, a week, a year or a lifetime. If capital (money) is lost, one can create new opportunities and regain it. If one is sapped of energy, they can change their circumstances and reinvigorate themselves. But once time is used, it can never be replaced.
This lack of respect and understanding of time is reflected in the manner in which many business owners plan. They set business growth and the creation of wealth as important goals. Unfortunately, they do not give high priority to their personal time requirements. If owners increase the importance of personal time issues within their value systems, they can reduce time-related frustrations and increase peace of mind and satisfaction.
A Case Study: A Young Couple Learn the Importance of Time
A young couple dreamed of owning a business. After a number of years they had the opportunity to purchase the business where the husband worked. They were not really prepared for all that was entailed in running a business. They lost a fair amount of money during their first eighteen months of ownership. To turnaround the situation, the wife who had been working a separate job, joined the company. With both working at the business, they reduced overhead and increased the amount of ownership time and energy available. As a result, operations stabilized.
However there was a cost. With both husband and wife putting their full effort into their business they found they had no time available for anything else, including their two young children. This especially put the wife into a position of extreme unhappiness and guilt. As I talked to them, I realized that their planning was focused completely upon the financial success of the business. Further, they equated future financial success with the continuance of their total involvement with the business.
Reorienting the Definition of Success to Include Time Goals
I brought to their attention that the lack of personal time was a principal source of their unhappiness. It needed to be included in their business planning goals. We reworked their business plan and made the goal of freeing up personal time for non-business activities as significant as financial success. This led to evaluating which tasks absolutely needed to be done by the owners and which could be potentially off-loaded to others. We calculated how much additional revenue and cash flow would be required to allow them to hire a person that would handle the tasks they desired to off-load. This became the focus of their short-term planning. Within a year the business had sufficient funds allowing the owners to add staff and reduce the amount of hours they spent with the business.
This couples planning paradigm was flawed from the start. By making operating adjusts, they were able to change their goals to making personal time just as important as financial success. Business owners are strongly advised to quantify both short-term and long-term time goals and include them in their planning processes.