(The following is an extract from my new book “The Highly Profitable Accountant”. It’s currently selling on Amazon for £14.99 and has more 5* reviews than any other book written for the accountancy field on growing your practice. As part of a promotion, I have 500 copies of the book to give away for free. Order your complimentary copy now before I run out!)
“I’m Too Busy, I Don’t Have Enough Time”
That sentence is the #1 thing that I hear almost everyone I meet say when we start working together.
For my clients, we’ve developed a very robust process to help them get more time, which we implement from the first week of working together.
This process will last anywhere from four to twelve weeks.
Because, if you don’t have time, you won’t have time to do the things that need doing in order to implement some of the processes we are going to cover in this book.
Here are some key pointers:
You have to take your own time very seriously.
You cannot continue being the victim of other people’s whims and ways.
Your diary cannot stay open for anyone to jump into anywhere whenever they feel like it.
It is your life. Your diary. Your time.
You take control.
You are not running an Accident & Emergency service at your local hospital. In your world, most emergencies can wait a few hours.
If you were called to a hospital because your kid had just been hit in a hit-and-run accident and at that point in time, a client wanted to get hold of you… well, quite frankly, in most cases, they’re going to have to wait a few hours or even a few days till you can get back to them.
That logic holds for most times when clients want to get hold of you.
When you are in a meeting — door shut, your phone switched off. When you choose to be uninterruptible and be totally there, focused in the moment, others will respect that you will be available again in a few hours and that you will then see to them or return their calls. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Does this require you doing things a little differently than before?
Does this require a certain level of self-discipline?
Does it require a certain level of self-belief and valuing of your own time?
Does it require that you put your life and your priorities into perspective?
Is this fundamental to you taking yourself and your organisation up to a next level?
One of the best ways to make this happen is to develop certain time-slots in your standard/average week which are blocked out for certain activities. And these time blocks do not get moved for anything!
• Time to meet with your team to review how the past week went and what is planned for the coming week.
• Time for a marketing meeting to get an update.
• Time for production meetings.
• A block of time to work on your practice for at least two hours every single week.
•A weekly quick debtors’ review meeting, a day purely for client-generation meetings, or for internal work and reviews, or perhaps a whole day where you are available for clients or team members for any queries they may have.
I don’t want to be prescriptive on what needs to be in your diary. But when you build into your diary specific days for specific activities, and then within those days certain time-slots for certain things — and then you rigorously keep to these planned slots… that is when your output as a business owner will increase tenfold.
And you will see the results very soon!
If this is a weakness for you, get yourself a PA to run your diary for you. You book absolutely zero into your diary. He or she is 100% responsible for all bookings into your diary. His or her job is to keep your designated timeslots open and to manage your world. They will be responsible and accountable to make that happen. And if it slips, you hold them accountable.
Again — the aim of the game is to let go. Let go of as much as you can and delegate it to others.
You have to find a way that works for you, but let me share with you two examples.
Mark came to me and said, ‘Rudi, I get hundreds of emails each day — it takes up a HUGE amount of my time. What can I do about this?’
In Mark’s case, he had a team member he could think of whom he could trust to manage his emails for him: his office manager, Sharon. So we set up a new email address for Mark which he only gave out to a very select few people. Sharon then took over his main account, and she would deal with 90% of his emails by either forwarding it onto the right person to deal with it, or responding herself, saying, ‘Mark is incredibly busy at the moment, but you are very important to him and he’s asked me to deal with your query on his behalf.’
I remember Mark going on a two-week holiday once where he opened no emails, and when he came back, he had about eighteen emails to deal with. Through the changes we brought about, Mark is now only working three days a week in his practice.
A similar scenario: Ben came to me with the same story. He was getting an influx of emails each day and it was taking an inordinate amount of time to get through it. When I asked Ben if there was anyone in the firm he could trust with his emails, his first response was the standard I always seem to get: ‘But there are lots of sensitive emails that I wouldn’t want my staff to know about — emails from my partners discussing staff and salaries and so on.’
Of course — but… is there anyone in your team that you trust enough? If you sat down with them and told them that you were going to put them into a role where you would be placing an enormous amount of trust in them, would they be up for it and rise to the challenge? With of course a penalty of death should anything ever slip out and you find out that they were the source (okay… that is just a joke — we’re not really penalising so harshly).
The reality is that when you have an A+ team around you, there is normally someone like this. And if not, then you do not actually have an A+ team around you.
So Ben decided that he did have such a lady on his team: Jean. But she was a reception/admin person, so there were loads of emails she would have no idea how to handle. But he did trust her that should she see sensitive emails, she’d be able to treat it as sensitive information.
Great. Next question. ‘Who on your team could you trust to deal with non-sensitive emails for you?’ After a bit of thinking, Ben decided that Jess was a team leader and she knew enough about the work as well as about the business that she would be able to deal with that.
So it was arranged that going forwards Jean would have access to Ben’s inbox. About 10% of the emails she could deal with directly. About 70% of the emails she could pass onto Jess to deal with. And the remaining 20%, that only Ben could deal with, she’d forward onto him.
Ben had to sit with Jess and look at some of the work she was doing. After some thinking, Ben identified a few of her lower-level tasks that could be handed over to another team member which freed up the necessary time in Jess’s diary to deal with Ben’s bulk of his emails.
We set up a new email address which Ben guarded with his life and only handed out to his partners and a few other very select people.
As a further example of delegating to trustworthy team members that can handle sensitive information, my PA is very trustworthy — and she is based in the Philippines. All my emails get scanned by her first, and only emails that she cannot deal with will end up in my inbox.
My point is, it is not only possible for you to free up time in ways such as this, but in order for you to change things, it is essential.
In order for your practice to step up to the next level, it is imperative that you personally step up to the next level.
This requires a step-up in leadership — yourself first.
This can be a hard task when you try and do it by yourself.
One of the simplest options to help and guide you here is to get hold of an accountability partner or a coach who can help you with this. It is important that you find the right person for this journey. The person you select to help you with this is going to intimately understand both your strengths and your weaknesses. And their job is to help you stretch further than what you ever thought possible for yourself.
(The extract above is from my new book “The Highly Profitable Accountant”. It’s currently selling on Amazon for £14.99 and has more 5* reviews than any other book written for the accountancy field on growing your practice. As part of a promotion, I have 500 copies of the book to give away for free. Order your complimentary copy now before I run out!)