What is Your Time Worth?
“I understand you want me to meet them face to face, however they are based in South Africa, we’re in New York and given they’re not the decision makers, let’s just set up a call. This is a conversation I have almost every day. To travel or not to travel, that is indeed the question! In B2B sales, being present and having face-to-face meetings is always preferable. Unless it is with the wrong person. Then the sales process becomes drawn out and a lengthy sales process equates to wasted time.
For me, it comes down to ‘time management’ and validating the time spent on achieving a particular goal. Throughout a sales process, time is valuable and if you are new to the startup game or work in some form of sales you may make the mistake of running to a meeting no matter where it is in the world before you are ready, or focused, or have the capabilities to achieve the ideal result.
Throughout my career, I have come to treat time more valuable than anything else. Each day, each hour, each minute and each second is a moment that we can never recover. We have a finite amount of time on this earth and although everyone’s time may differ, it is inevitably limited. I have learned valuable lessons about making the most of my time from both business and personal experiences. Personally, “wasting” time is sometimes the best thing in the world. I recall painting the walls in my first home. We could have easily hired someone to do it but the experience of trying to paint a room and completely messing it up over the course of four hours only to have to hire a painter to fix it is an experience I will never forget. Not to mention trying to get the paint out of my hair for a month! It was also a complete “waste” of time that turned into one of the greatest memories I have, but it was because of who I was doing it with. Wasting time to experience something like that is priceless. “Spending” time doing what I love will never be a waste for me. That’s the key difference; wasting time gets you nowhere, but spending time doing things to gain memories is the complete opposite.
When you are young, you think time is always going to be there. But as you get older, you start to see it differently. You realize that time is not your friend and you need to take advantage of every moment. If you ask a lot of professional athletes about their journey to making a final or championship game, they’ll most likely reference their early years by saying something along the lines of “I didn’t realize that making the finals in my first year wouldn’t continue. I thought I would be doing this every year.” Time is funny like that; it has a way of running ahead of you. Once you realize its outpacing you, it’s already too late. It took me years to fully understand that time is not guaranteed and only fools assume there is plenty of it.
Startups deal with time management issues quite frequently. When you think about it, startups are at its most successful when the operators finally key in on what their business should be and execute it. Start small, grow it, scale it and BOOM… success! The period where you are “trying to understand” is when time is not your friend. Anyone who works in this world knows that having a great idea is only one piece of the pie. You need to manage cash on hand, cash flow, employee moral and investor satisfaction at any given stage; even when nothing looks like it is working. At Billaway, it took us almost two years to fully understand what we are doing. We were predominately self-funded at the beginning (along with some investment from a few brave angels) and used this time to find the perfect fit for our service. Time was not on our side and it still isn’t.
Like a lot of business owners, I’m constantly time poor. I have work partners who sometimes set up meetings that don’t have a focus, only to re-schedule it again to have the real discussion. I deal with executives from company’s where I act as a board member who need to be managed and reminded of their roles and responsibilities. I have people who are trying to sell me something that will “help” my business and the list goes on and on. What people need to realize too that in addition to business time, it’s the people in our personal lives that take more time than most and this ultimately takes away from the focus I need to keep our company alive. Have you ever heard the statement ‘Bill Gates has the same number of hours in his day as yours’ and ever thought how does he accomplish so much more? I think time management (intelligence and resources aside) has a lot to do with it, hence his success.
This past weekend, I had a bit of a time management meltdown. I am generally great at getting more done in a day than most, but this weekend I didn’t do what I needed to and it really had an impact on me. I realized on Sunday that I need to be more careful with my time and prioritize it over everything else. I hate not getting things done and I had plenty of time to complete all. It’s my own fault. I think about time as a commodity that needs to be protected, preserved and it needs to be “spent” on activities that are worthy of it. Spend it on activities that have real value. There are always going to be ways to make more money, however, time is the bank account that when it empties, there is no way to earn more. I know how valuable my time is and what I need to do to make the most of it.
Billaway is on a super time management purge as we speak, perhaps driven by my own purge of time wasters. We are examining how much time is spent on calls, meetings, what is getting done each day and where we can extract more time out of our day. Being an analytical bunch, our goal is to constantly ask “is this worth it?”.
I have a calendar reminder set that pops up every hour now asking this very question – “are you doing something that is worth your time?” I know, it sounds a bit much, but in just a few hours of setting it up, it helped. I don’t spend any time on things that don’t correlate to my benefit as the CEO of Billaway or for me in my personal life. Try it. Then ask yourself; “am I spending my time on the things that will enrich my life, make me happier, enable me to be more successful or simply add meaning to my life. If the answer is yes, this is a good activity, if it’s a no you need to reassess and make sure your time isn’t being taken from you by people and activities that absolutely do not deserve it.