Tim couldn't believe it. He'd miss another deadline. He was working so hard. His wife was on his case for missing Peter's baseball game.
With all that he had on his plate, he couldn't find time to complete an advertising campaign for one of his largest customers. Tim was buried and he didn't see a way out. On top of all of this overwhelm, he wasn't making a lot of money with his advertising agency. He didn't understand what was wrong. He worked hard, he had some decent customers; but he couldn't make it all work.
Tim had attended a time management seminar a while back that held by a guy called Coach Russ. He remembered Russ saying something about vision and goals and all kinds of other nonsense. He wondered, "How on earth can someone take time to create a vision and set goals; when they can't find the time to meet one of their most important customer's deadlines."
Tim decided to shut his office door, and ignore the rest of the world for a few minutes while he found Coach Russ's business card. He really needed someone to help him extricate himself from his habitual busyness; and felt like Coach Russ may be able to give him some words of wisdom.
Tim couldn't get Russ on his first try and left a voice message on his phone, "Help! This is Tim Carter. I attended a time management course that you put on a while ago; and am buried. Please call back at 888-777-6666.
Russ called back a few minutes later, "Hi, Tim. It sounds like you're frazzled. How can I help?"
Tim responded, "Thanks for calling back so soon, Russ. I feel like I am buried with work, can't manage to break away to attend my son's baseball games, and everyone is super angry with me. What should I do?"
Russ knew that it wasn't time for a long-winded solution. Tim was in emergency mode. Russ calmly responded, "Tim, take a deep breath and just relax."
Tim responded immediately, "I can't relax. I've got stuff to do."
Russ repeated, "Simply take the next 30-seconds and breath in and out. I'll still be here, and we can talk when you're done."
Tim didn't feel like he had a choice so he did as Russ had instructed. Russ led him by telling him to breath in and then breath out. He had to admit, the breathing was calming. However, it didn't do a lot to solve his problem.
After Russ had finished his mini-breathing exercise, Russ began, "It sounds like you attended my seminar on time management, so you must know that the first step is to create a vision some time in the future, right?"
Tim reacted, "That's great! How am I supposed to find the time to create a 5-year vision, if I can't even meet a stupid deadline?"
Russ responded, "Currently, you're reacting to everything around you. By taking a block of time to create an image of what your business will look like in five years, you're taking control. By taking this control, you'll be able to deliberately meet deadlines, attend your son's baseball games, and create substantial personal wealth."
"Great! Sounds like a great sales pitch. But that's not possible. I'm trying everything I can and it's not working."
"Have you tried to write down your 5-year vision?"
"No. But, I don't see how that will change my present."
Russ could see that he was running into an obstacle with Tim, so he changed the subject, "How many people do you have working in your advertising firm right now?"
"I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. I can't really afford to hire more people, if that's what you mean."
Russ repeated the question, "How many people are in your firm?"
"I have five employees including myself."
"Okay. What if you knew that to complete the work that you currently have in your firm, you needed ten people?"
Tim chuckled, "Then I would say we'd be out of business because we don't have enough revenue to pay the salaries of ten people."
Russ could see that this wouldn't be easy. He decided to take yet a different approach, "In the history of mankind, have any advertising firms like yours managed to succeed?"
"Yes. I guess I'm doing something wrong."
"I want you to suspend your disbelief for a few minutes. I know you have a lot of work to do. It sounds like you need to make up for some lost time on a client's deadline. I want you to carve out four hours in the next few weeks to do an organization chart with a financial forecast on how your business will operate in five years."
"I'm not sure what the point of this is, but your the business coach."
Russ emailed Tim some documents to help him create his five year vision; and they set up an appointment for a call in two weeks.
Russ was surprised when the appointment didn't get cancelled; and Tim actually called with his homework completed as scheduled.
Russ asked, "How did it go?"
Tim responded, "I guess I did my vision. But, I'm still not sure how this is going to help my present."
"I get it. Let's forget about your present problems and focus on this vision of yours. Tell me some of the details about how your company will look in five years."
"Our advertising firm will have ten employees and we will be earning $1.5 Million per year in revenue. I will have four full-time marketing professionals, two assistants, two administrative assistants, one salesman and I will manage the entire group."
"Wow, Tim! That sounds wonderful! How much profit is your company making five years from now?"
"We are making $200,000 in net profit."
"Great. Tell me. With your five employees today, how much revenue and profit do you earn?"
Tim hesitated. He knew how inconsistent his present numbers were with his future vision. He said, "We're making about $500,000 per year in revenue; and have no profit."
Russ could hear the disappointment in Tim's voice, "It sounds like you made some revelations about your current situation. Would you like to share them with me?"
"I know our revenue is low right now; but we're working as hard as we can. I can't imagine working harder."
"How hard is your crew working in your five-year vision?"
"Not that hard really. In fact, we have assistants and I estimated normal working hours with plenty of vacation for everyone. In fact, I even have enough money for a salesman."
Russ persisted, "Why is your future company working so well; but your current staff of five is frazzled, missing deadlines and you're missing your son's baseball games?"
"You're the business coach. Isn't that what you're supposed to tell me?"
"I have some thoughts, but it does you no good for me to tell you what I think. It's more important for you to make this revelation on your own."
"I just don't know the answer to your question."
"I'll tell you what. Think about it; and call me tomorrow. I'm sure you will come up with some amazing answers."
They ended their call; and Tim took the rest of the day off thinking about the question Russ asked him. He was frustrated that this high-paid business coach was not sharing his knowledge.
As scheduled, Tim called Russ and there was some excitement in his voice.
Tim started, "I can't believe it. I feel like I've been such an idiot. We currently have three marketing professionals. Me and two others. When I added up the hours, yesterday, I noticed that I am doing most of the work. I'm not sure what the others are doing; but they are hardly billing any hours. I always thought that all of us were busy; but it must have just been me that was doing all of the work."
Russ responded, "Interesting. What do you plan to do about your new revelation?"
"If I fire them, then I will have to do all of the work plus I'll have to find two marketing professionals that aren't deadbeats."
"What role do you play in the fact that your other marketing professionals are not billing more hours?"
"What do you mean? I'm working my butt off because they are slacking."
"When a new client comes in, how do you delegate the work load to your current staff?"
"Russ, there are some accounts I just don't trust to anyone but me."
"Tim, you either need to trust your employees to do the work; or you will be forever having time management problems. What will it take for you to trust your employees?"
Tim was silent for about five seconds and then responded, "I suppose I need to check their work. But won't that take more time?"
"You created a vision of your company five years from now, where you are checking the work of four marketing professionals. You admitted that you were a manager, not a DOER. In this vision, you said that your firm was earning $1.5 Million per year with plenty of profit. When I asked you the reason, you did your research; and found out you are doing all of the design work and not allowing your employees to do any of the work."
"But I told you, Russ. I just don't trust my employees to do as good of a job as me."
"Bingo! You don't trust your employees. It's not your employee's fault that you don't trust them; it's your thinking that needs to change in order for you to grow your company without feeling stressed out."
Tim reacted, "How can I develop this trust?"
"I'm glad you asked."
Russ went on to explain how Tim needed to delegate and verify his employee's work. He couldn't allow himself to do ANY of the work that was given to his company. He could only fill the role of salesman and overseeer. He wouldn't do any of the marketing work; regardless of the size of the client.
It was a constant challenge over the next six months for Tim not do any of the work that was given to his firm. A few of his customers left because they wanted his work and not the work of his 'flunkies'. Tim resisted the urge to give in... even to these demanding customers. Tim held to his promise to Russ, and he delegated everything.
He did need to fire one of his marketing professionals who had grown accustomed to hanging out at work watching as Tim did all the work. Tim hired a replacement who was amazing. In fact, Tim was convinced the new marketing professional had double the talent he ever had as an advertiser.
The firm grew to $600,000 in revenue over the next year; and then $750,000 the year after that. Tim decided to do the same thing with sales as he did with marketing. He hired a sales person to replace him; and their firm continued to grow. The customers who had left when they discovered that Tim was no longer doing the work came back because they saw that Tim's firm was doing outstanding work and were meeting deadlines.
The best part of Tim's transition was that he was able to see all of Peter's baseball games; and even made the decision to take Friday's off. It was a completely different life than he had only a few years earlier. His company was doing better, and he was working half the time he had been without the stress.
As a business coach and 30-year business veteran, I help my business owner clients change their mindset in a way that allows them the freedom and profitability they’ve always hoped for, but never thought possible. If you’d like to develop a successful business mindset, I offer online training along with individual and group coaching sessions.