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Two Lessons From Bill Gates To Help You Be More Productive (And Happier)

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It’s September, which is unbelievable to me, yet here we are. How has this year fared for you and your business? For many, we’ve seen and heard of record-setting years, goals met and exceeded. For others, we’ve seen great determination and progress towards meeting your goals. Still, some of you are just starting on your journey. Congratulations on your successes and progress. You earned it. As we come down the home stretch of 2022 and work to cap off the year, it isn’t too early to start planning for 2023. 

As a business owner, time is your most precious resource. How you invest your time will have a more significant impact on your success and happiness than anything else. As a small business owner, the demands on your time are immense. There are seemingly endless interests competing for your time.

The business lesson in his negotiating for the purchase of the original ‘Microsoft’ operating system DOS from IBM is a story unto itself, but once Microsoft was on the map, how did he keep it there? Where did he find the time?

Here are two lessons from Bill Gates that can help you make the most of your time, lower your stress, and increase your happiness.

Plan A Year Out 

Many of us have monthly or weekly plans to guide our work, but Bill Gates was known to create an annual plan. Not for Microsoft, but for himself. His annual plan would not have every detail, but it would include calendaring key personal and business goals, vacation time, and key events to attend.

How to apply it:
Look at the four quarters or 12 months of 2023. Pick a business objective that you want to focus on in that month or quarter and arrange them in a way that will get your business to where you want it to be by the end of 2023.

Tip: If you haven’t used the Sales Plan Generator yet, this is a great tool to help you identify the sales KPI your business needs to achieve to reach your profit target. Set a profit target for 2023, and then arrange your targeted KPI on your calendar for next year. 

Example: In the first quarter of 2023, I want to increase my average transaction value by 10%. Then brainstorm a list of strategies you can employ to increase your average transaction value (e.g. always offer an upsell splurge option in your proposals that is ~ 10-20% higher than your client’s budget, always offer third-party travel insurance, offer a pre and post hotel night when possible, etc.). Then, in that first quarter, intentionally focus on implementing and testing your strategies. Keep what’s working, lose or adjust what’s not.

That brings us to Bill’s second lesson.

Categorize Your Time

How often have you set an objective or a to-do, only for the daily fires to take up all your time? The daily demands of the business need to be met, but you also need to set aside dedicated time to work on your business. Bill’s approach is to categorize time blocks through the week or month to ensure the essential things that need time are accounted for.

How to apply it:
Look at your weekly and monthly calendars. Identify 3-5 categories of how you want to invest your business time and set a time target for each. These don’t need to be equally weighted but should be based on your annual business objectives. As you plan your year, month, and week, ensure that your time allocation for these categories meets your plan. At the end of each week, identify if you could stay on schedule, and if not, evaluate what went wrong so you can correct the course in the next week.

Example: You may identify four core categories essential to building your long-term profit.
-    40%: Travel Planning and Booking Management
-    30%: Customer Acquisition + Retention (sales + marketing to new prospects and existing clients)
-    20%: Education 
-    10%: Business Planning + Administration

Tip: These percentage allocations are just an example. The allocations you choose will depend on where your business is in the business development cycle. Newer businesses will spend more time on Customer Acquisition + Retention and Education. Established businesses may devote more time to Travel Planning and Booking Management. The key is to ensure that you allocate some time to the core categories you identify.

If you have 40 hours per week available to your business, then that translates to:
-    16 hours: Travel Planning and Booking Management
-    12 hours: Customer Acquisition + Retention
-    8 hours: Education 
-    4 hours: Business Planning + Administration

Once you have your time allocations, set out time blocks on your calendar. These will vary weekly, but over a month, you should work to hit your targeted time allocations.

Reducing Stress and Increasing Your Happiness
Using these two strategies can give you tremendous peace of mind, knowing there is time allocated to the essential things in your business. However, be realistic with your time investments. Don’t commit to investing time you don’t have. Set manageable targets and reward yourself for progress.

As I said a few weeks ago, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Best Success,