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Jan 20

Budget Time … As Well As Money

Posted by: Steve Marr

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As we are starting the new year, most of us have established a budget, sales forecasts and a spending plan. Have you worked through a time budget for the year?

Jesus said, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying this man began to build and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28-30 ESV).

When planning a new initiative, we may easily understand we need to set money to fund the effort. Likewise, we need to plan for and set aside the time needed to accomplish a new business enterprise.

Walt owned two toy stores, each making some money, and believed he was ready to open a third store. He believed he had the perfect area located in a fast-growing part of town. Walt asked me to help with his planning in launching the new store.

Financially he was in good shape with enough funds for lease improvements and the needed inventory. His current cash flow would cover his initial operating losses. Walt thought he was ready to go.

I asked him, “Who will be following up with the contractors on the construction site? Who will hire the new staff? Who will accomplish all the new and different tasks necessary for opening a new location?”

“Well, I will,” replied Walt.

I pointed out that he was already working 55-60 hours each week and asked what work he would drop to allow for the additional 20-25 hours of effort needed to open the new store.

Walt did the bookkeeping work himself, so hiring a part time bookkeeper would push his estimated operating cost into the red, so he would have to continue to do the bookkeeping himself.

Furthermore, sales increased by 20% when he was in a particular store, so if he spread his time out among three stores, sales would likely be lost in each existing location.

As we unpeeled the onion and he understood the impact of his time, Walt came to understand that while he had sufficient funds to open a third store, he did not have enough time … and wisely postponed the expansion.

Likewise, each of us only has a limited amount of time to accomplish all our work. Consider establishing a time budget for key work. Paul wrote, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time…” (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV). Consider writing out a time budget for your work. Contractors do this all the time when estimating jobs. Then manage your work time to that budget. If something takes more time, determine what other work you will drop or delay to allow for the extra effort. Just deciding to work more hours may work for a short time, but it is a long-term prescription for burnout and failure.

For example, when I was a chief operating officer for one company, I budgeted 20% of my time to be with customers. One time I needed to respond to a major customer issue and unexpectedly took a two-day trip in an effort to salvage an excellent client. That month I already had other customer commitments that I could not just drop. I was able to look at my schedule and decided in advance what work I could drop to fit in the necessary customer time to save the account.

When we say “yes” to something, we are at the same time saying “no” to something else, and that something else is other customers, work, or our family.

Paul wrote, “Every athlete exercises self control in all things…” (1 Corinthians 9:25 ESV). Businesses that do not effectively plan financial budgets often run out of money, causing the business to fail.

Likewise, when we fail to plan our time requirements in advance, we can run out of time, causing us to leave key work undone and losing family time. Effective time planning and management will help keep our personal balance intact and business running well.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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