How Long Does It Take?
By Talmar Anderson
A growing company has needs. You need process. Then you need to write it down to create repeatable procedures. I know you have heard it before. These are key steps allowing us to hire and have others help grow your company. Today I want to ask you how long does it take to produce each of your services? What about each of your products? How much time goes into the design much less the manufacturing? How long does it take to just write your proposals? Yes! It is time to talk about time tracking. Stay with me because this is the secret sauce to successful businesses!
This is not about capturing the details for billing your clients (though we can talk about how this directly determines your true profitability HERE). I often hear “Oh I don’t bill my clients that way” as an excuse to skip this step. However, as a business owner you need to understand where the bulk of the time is specifically spent within your company to deliver services and products. It is within these details that you can understand how best to create space for high demand or growth periods of your company.
For many small companies, outsourced independent contractors are used to start filling in when demand grows. I both support and recommend this for most companies as they can be ultra-responsive to client needs and take their time to understand their growth. Is it consistent? Is the company going to continue trending up? What could you be doing to help grow the company faster if you were not completing the deliverables? As your company’s growth is proven to be the norm then this is when my clients and I sit down to really look at the future of the organizational structure. If scaling and growth is part of your plan then bringing “employees” into the fold will be a next step.
- Consistency of quality
- Availability of labor – IC’s can take on other work and this could leave your clients hanging.
- Control over brand and reputation. – them representing you by how they dress, how they answer the phone; how they structure their signature…all influences perception on the size and strength of your growing company!
- Legacy – building a company that employs people is rewarding on many levels
By only considering invoices from independent contracts for dollar value as a cost of goods expense type, it will be that much harder when you are ready to bring those roles in house. Getting the time tracking under control for forecasting and strategic planning is taking charge of your business! The more you can understand how long it takes for each task the more success and easier it will be when you are ready to hire.
We need to understand HOW the sausage is made to be sure that we structure our business correctly. Begin by determining how each service or product is developed then list out each of the separate tasks involved. Assign time to each project and task. Then over time we begin capturing the length of time it takes to complete each task. As you start to document these details we will be developing a history. Depending upon your need and the industry this could take two weeks to two years. There are a lot of time tracking softwares (i.e., Toggl) out there. Heck, even your project management software wants you to do this and likely has time tracking capabilities. The key is to start capturing the details NOW.
If you are a business plan writer, you may think that your best course of action is to hire writers to help you compose the documents for your clients. Most business owners would go this route and may eventually experience some help. This may create a little space for a new client or two.
However, if you start breaking out tasks specifically you may find that researching each client’s industry details and trends can take twice as long. In this case, your historical data can steer you to hire a researcher and creating double the freedom and space for further growth and development! Understanding how exactly your company works will set you down the path of hiring for the correct positions to allow for less stress, efficiency of focus and, say it with me everyone, profitability.
It is through this type of process that you move from throwing darts with your eyes closed to making strong decisions about the future of your own company.
Now GO! Grow!
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