My time is more important than yours

“What is the secret of your success?” a reporter asked a successful businessman.
“Two words,” he replied, “Right decisions.”
“And how do you make right decisions?”
“One word. Experience.”
“And how do you get experience?”
“Two words. Wrong decisions.”

After almost six years as a startup founder, I’ve made my fair share of wrong decisions. I guess you could say that makes me experienced, although I’m not sure I qualify as successful.

As 2016 approaches, I stand on the edge of achieving my goals.

We turned our first startup into a small business, requiring a pivot into a larger market. That market turned out to be a mirage, resulting in a second pivot and a third market. It is in this third market that we have found product to market fit, evidenced by large customers in multiple countries and a triple digit growth rate. We recently beat two billion dollar companies for a multi-year contract out of London, taking us into even more countries over the next three years.

The only thing that can derail this train is me, and the most likely culprit will be time.

Management of my attention. Choosing what to work on. Leveraging resources. Focusing on the right things. All these things relate to time and my management of it.

Time is the only thing you cannot scale. The only thing you cannot make more of.

So I am changing how I go about my startup in three different ways, but I know these will be just the start of many changes to come.

1. Open Office Hours

For the last three years I have had an open door policy for anyone who wanted to meet with me about their startup. Doing so is super beneficial to the community (I hope!), but it is a massive time suck for me.

In 2016 I am changing to a half day a month of open office hours. If you want to chat you are more than welcome to book a slot in that half day, but outside of those hours I am afraid the answer will be no.

2. Value my time

If there is one thing that all hyper successful startup founders have in common, it is the degree to which they value their personal time. They say no to almost everything, because to say yes would be to distract from the end goal.

While I am unlikely to ever be spoken of in the same reverent tones as Musk or Zuckerberg, would I be more successful if I managed my time in the same way as they do?

I need to learn to say no to everything that doesn’t fit my company objectives.

3. Leverage

If the number of hours in a day never gets any longer, then I need to work out ways to maximise my return. That means clearing my plate of any task that doesn’t directly relate to revenue or product.

The tasks still need to be done by someone, so hiring a full time offshore assistant will be one of my first objectives for 2016. I will no longer do research, data collection, invoicing, account receivables, reports, lead generation, payouts or a hundred other necessary but trivial tasks.

I’m normally not one for new years resolutions, but the thought of those three new initiatives working in harmony makes me kind of excited.

Lets keep this train on the tracks.