Have you thought about what your day looks like as an entrepreneur? Or what it would look like if you ever decided to leave the rat race and start your own company? Karsten Aichholz, the managing director of Fintaras Co. working out of Bangkok, Thailand, has.
His company has 10 employees, and he mostly works from the office. He wanted to know how he was spending his time, so he tracked it. Every minute of his work time, for 467 hours and 55 minutes (that's from March 2014 to September 2015). Curious about how an entrepreneur spends time? Here's what Aichholz found:
- Emails and Communication: 12.02 percent
- Product: 11.22 percent
- Strategy: 10.60 percent
- Meetings: 9.26 percent
- Personal: 8.90 percent
- Day Planning: 8.37 percent
- Admin.: 7.30 percent
- Sales: 7.12 percent
- HR: 6.68 percent
- Quality Assurance: 6.32 percent
- Accounting: 4.81 percent
- Networking: 2.32 percent
Does anything surprise you? Some of it surprised Aichholz. For instance, the amount of time that he was spending on administrative tasks, which were mostly IT related, prompted him to hire a new systems administrator. That cleared tasks off his plate. Why did he track all this stuff in the first place? Aichholz says:
The 467 hours and 55 minutes were the result of me trying to track things over a longer period of time. I wanted to know:
- How much time I really spend on e-mails (it's actually less than I thought)
- How much time I spend on "compliance" work, like accounting and administration (more than I thought)
- Which of my activities yields the highest return for the time invested (strategic planning and planning my own day).
I'm always looking for ways to improve my organization's, as well as my, personal efficiency.
It turns out that for Aichholz, his most valuable contribution to his company was strategic planning and his own daily planning. These are things that are not easily delegated. But many entrepreneurs make a common mistake: Rather than hiring people to do things, we keep them to ourselves because it's expensive to hire people. But sometimes our inability to give up tasks that don't bring as much value means we earn less money--after all, if we're busy fixing the computers, we're not strategizing or doing whatever it is that we're the best at.
Aichholz also tracked his actual costs of doing business, including the salaries of his employees. (He likes spreadsheets.) Knowing exactly how you're spending your day and spending your money can allow you to make better decisions about how to direct your time and effort in your business.
Interestingly enough, while Aichholz likes tracking his own time, he doesn't require the same of his employees. Instead, he looks at the end result. Try tracking your time and see where you're wasting it and where it could be more profitable if someone else did those tasks while you focused on your priorities.
Do you think your day looks like Aichholz's? Or are your priorities different? Could you be more efficient with your communications, for instance, or is there something that could be handed off to a current employee? Sometimes a spreadsheet can give you very interesting insights.