5 Step Process For Moving Low ROI Tasks Off Your Plate
“A successful entrepreneur is one who has more money in his or her bank account at the end of the day than they did at the beginning.” ~ Jerry Colonna (Reboot Podcast)
What a nice simple way to think of business. But how do we do it? Simple …
ROI! ROI! ROI!
You have two resources: time and money. Of the two, time is more precious. Every single day, when you spend your time and money, you send them out to work, with their little coveralls on, lunchpail in hand. At the end of the day, they should come back with four friends in tow. If they don’t, you need to get them different jobs.
ROI is THE most important concept in small business
If you want more money at the end of the day than the beginning, you must look for it everywhere … under every rock and crevice.
Here’s an example from my business …
These blog posts are a major component of our marketing strategy. And, up until now, I have been doing all of it. Bad, bad, bad. Time to fix that.
There are two pieces of this process I should be doing and only I should be doing. They are writing the words and creating the accompanying video. The rest I need to shift to something or someone else.
How do I know I should not be doing those other pieces? Simple rule …
If someone else can do it at least 80% as well as you, at a lower rate than your Net Hourly Value (NHV), they should be doing it, not you.
(NOTE: Keep pushing it down the chain until it reaches the person for whom it is one of their highest value activities. That maximizes ROI on their time too!)
So how do you take a process and get yourself out of the pieces that don’t give you highest possible ROI on your time?
The Five Steps
1. Create a simple process flow document – remember … this is not the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel … quick and dirty.
2. Edit the process – find pieces that are unnecessary or inefficient and revise as needed
3. Decide on resources – Go through step-by-step to decide what tool or person will do that step
4. Figure out the glue – What makes the process moves from step to step and makes sure everyone knows what they need to do next?
5. Get ‘er done – Pablo Picasso said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” Apply the elbow grease now so you can can free up brain cycles to do something with higher ROI on your time.
Wondering what that looks like?
Let’s take a rather meta look at this process, applied to the production of this blog post and the amplification of it on social media. Since, as I just explained, this is a problem for me,we’ll kill two birds with one stone.
Step 1 – Create a simple process flow document –
You can use whatever tool you like for this part of the process. Some people will use flow-charting software. Others will use mind-mapping software.
My personal favorite is to just use Infusionsoft’s Campaign Builder. For my purposes, it is a simple way to get ideas out on a canvas and drag them around.
It also keeps me from getting too hung up on how my document looks. I am just trying to get the high level steps down.
In the last step, we will create full document of the process. For now, this is a brain dump.
So drag out a clean piece of something and get it out of your head and on a canvas. Here is what the first brain dump of my content creation process looks like:
Step 2 – Edit the process
How can you make this process cleaner and more efficient? What is missing? What is unnecessary? What should you earmark for a future iteration?
Here’s an example … I am the bottleneck in this process. Because I create the post and video that kicks the process off, I have everyone else in the process reacting to me. That is not efficient.
While it may not be possible for me to write three blog posts in a day, it would be much more efficient if we batched all the other tasks that came after. How can I make that happen?
So, what became obvious to me, just now, as I stopped to do that step, is … I am making everyone react to me. Better than me doing it all myself. But still not great.
By pushing back production and getting ahead of it, everyone else can now batch their tasks. That saves me money and everyone stress.
Not only that … imagine if I could start to get a couple of weeks ahead. I can easily see how that would allow me to be gone for several weeks at a time, without the whole content creation process grinding to a halt.
Now, here is the dirty little secret.
Just now I said “everyone else” is responding to me. But truth be told, because I hadn’t done this “process-on-a-process”, I have been doing all the steps.
Why? Because most of the time, they happen late at night or early in the morning, just before deadline. And, at that point, I need to get it out the door. So I end up doing the whole thing. That is about to change in Step 3.
Step 3 – Decide on resources
I don’t know about you but I end up hanging on to way more than I should. A big reason is because I hate to slow down long enough to do things like this. Documentation is not my strength. Way too tedious.
But look what happens …
If you don’t document, you can’t delegate.
Not only that, when I have my head down in doer mode, this seems like “No one else can do this but me.” But once you break it down on paper, into small pieces, it is obvious that someone – or something – else can do almost all of it.
So let’s see what that looks like …
One easy trap to fall into is to underestimate what you can outsource. These days, you have soooo many options beyond just hiring 1099 employees … Of course, you can hire freelancers and virtual assistants. Or you can hire one of the large VA Services, like Fancy Hands, Sidekicks, and LongerDays.com
But the niche services market is getting really interesting lately. I am seeing many specialized services springing up, too. This is in keeping with the idea of driving a task down to the person for whom it is the highest value activity.
For example, Design Pickle does unlimited graphic designs for a set monthly fee. Good Audience provides Social Media Marketing Assistants for a monthly fee. This is definitely a growing trend. (If you have other examples, leave them in the comments. Would love to know about them too.)
Remember … technology is great. But nothing scales like people.
Step 4 – Figure out the glue
Next is the small matter of what drives your process from step to step, making sure everyone knows what needs to be done and when. This is where we decide on the glue that makes it all hang together.
Note: It is very easy to get lost in the weeds on this step. Resist the urge to do any sort of research. Just put down a general idea of what you want to happen.
Focus on how everyone will be notified of next steps and completions. Don’t worry so much about the how. Leave that for Step 5, as it will likely change anyway.
Step 5 – Get it done
Now, only after completing the previous four steps, do we sit down and make this all happen.
What needs to happen in this step?
- Anything someone else needs to do, you need to document. What exactly do you want that person to do? How do they do it?
- I recommend you create your documentation using Google Docs, Google Sites, Evernote or software created specifically for process documentation … software that everyone can access and edit. That way you can continue to add to it and everyone has the latest version.
- Set up any systems and automation. If you are using Zapier or Infusionsoft for any of the steps, set it up. Project management software … set it up.
- Write any notification emails required.
- Go over your process with the people who will be doing it. Make sure they are clear on process and timelines.
- Flip the switch!
ROI? You bet …
If you look at the process I have just created for my content creation and social media, I will have spent approximately ten hours (when all is said and done) to save myself minimum of six hours per week. So, the ROI on this time spent is huge and the payback period is quick. Just the kind of investments every CEO should be looking to make.
Don’t worry about making it perfect. As Seth Godin says, “Just Ship!”
Something imperfectly executed is better than perfect and never implemented. Make it better later.
Ideally, you will put a to-do in your calendar to look at the process again in a month. See if something needs updating or changing. Odds are they will. They always do.
Then pick another process where you spend low ROI time, rinse and repeat.
Hopefully, this has given you some good ideas for places you can find some ROI on your time. Now here’s the ask …
Challenge: Make a list of all the processes you need to get yourself out of (some part of it or all together). Share it with us in the IS Beginner Facebook group. Sharing helps everyone think of things they may have missed.