Time is money. Time is our only non-renewable resource. Value your time at $1000/hour.
I’ve heard it all, and I get it. I’m 100% on board.
We’re not making any more time, and how I spend my time as a founder is supremely important.
But I’ve not always valued my time as much as I do now. A lot of founders fall into this same trap, letting everyone else’s problems eventually roll into their lap, and become their problem to deal with.
I realize now this is a huge trap of time, attention, and energy.
Over the years, I’ve struggled with not being an effective founder and failing to use my time wisely. At some level I think we’re all guilty of this shortcoming, regardless of how aware we are of it as a shortcoming.
This often manifests with me sitting at the computer at the end of the day, wondering what I actually got done that morning.
I’ve taken a lot of steps in the past 6 months to become more productive at work, prioritize only the most important activities, and delegate work more effectively.
I’ve used things like Laura Roeder’s guide to being a productive founder, creating weekly and daily ToDo lists, and tools like Centered to help me maintain focus and have a process for how I work.
Taking It To The Next Level
At this point, I think I’m focusing on the right things and am limited by the number of good hours I can work in a day.
Notice I didn’t say I’m limited by the number of hours.
Rather, the hours of good brain glucose where I feel that I can be effective at deep work and thinking creatively about team and sales/marketing activities to which I am an individual contributor in Castos.
The concept of an Executive Assistant is something that I’ve explored several times before. I’ve noticed a pattern amongst super successful founders: they all have EAs.
Then I wonder, is this correlation or causation?
Are super successful founders like all the ones we follow on Twitter successful because they’ve found a way to delegate some of their workloads to an Executive Assistant?
Is the ability to extend yourself as a founder through an EA and better delegation a precursor to a more successful company? One that can scale to $5, 10, or 50Million revenue
Or is it just a coincidence that their companies are so large that they were forced to find a way to make it work: the classic chicken or the egg quandary?
Here’s the one place I think that the concept of valuing your time at $1,000/hour falls down: if you’re a bootstrapped (or mostly bootstrapped) company doing $30k MRR and have a couple of employees, your time isn’t worth $1,000/hour.
Let’s do some very conservative math.
- Of your business’ top line revenue of $30,000, it has net revenue (after Stripe fees, refunds, etc.) of $28,000/mo.
- You have a developer and a support team member. Their combined salaries are $12,000/mo.
- You pay yourself a respectable salary of $10,000/mo.
- You have random costs like hosting, email providers, CRMs, and random tools that it takes to run an online business that is $3,000/mo.
- Let’s factor in a 2% G&A cost for the year, that’s another $600/mo for things like attorneys, bookkeepers, accountants, domain registration, etc.
So, of the $28,000 initially, we’re left with $2,400/month to reinvest or take as profit.
So, adding your salary plus the leftover “profit” each month of $12,400, we have an hourly equivalent of $77.50.
So maybe a full time assistant isn’t the right thing, but surely there are low value activities you’re doing in your business that you can offload. Even just a few hours a week would make a huge difference.
Just Making It Work
So we agree that we need to find a way to make the math work for our business and our business situation.
As Dan Martell says in his new book, Buy Back Your Time, you hire not to grow the company but to free up your time to be a more effective contributor and manager.
We, as founders, have to do the entrepreneurial thing and create something out of thin air. I have to make my time more valuable.
I’m writing this not as a critic of this train of thought; it’s exactly where I am today. I know that my time isn’t worth $77.50/hour, but my time NEEDS TO BE worth way more than that.
While there are a few ways to do this, I believe the best way is to grow the company’s revenues.
So I need to spend more time working on direct revenue-generating activities: sales and marketing.
To free up more of my time to focus on revenue-generating activities, I need to make a leap of faith, an investment in the future of the company, and sacrifice our current profits for the promise of better things in 3-6 months.
I have committed to getting more help, training and effectively delegating to that person, and giving myself the emotional grace not to do things. So say “No” more often to things that aren’t those $1,000/hour type activities, and focus on the huge levers of my time.
I’ve taken the first step in this journey and found an amazing Executive Assistant through Zirtual that I love working with. Starting out just a few hours a week for now, but I can already tell I’m going to want to move to a full time engagement very soon.
The opportunities to delegate things you’re doing but don’t love (or aren’t great at) to people who really enjoy them and most of the time are much better than you at, leave you more time to focus on those super high leverage activities.
And here’s the thing, it’s not just hours in the day, it’s good hours in the day. Without the mental overhead of all the tasks you have to do as a founder, you have a narrower scope of things to focus on.
Stop doing things that aren’t major value adds, and either delegate or automate away things that still must be done in the business but aren’t for you.
In the next few weeks I’ll be updating on how I am approacing working with my new Executive Assistant, and the impact that it’s having on me as a founder and the business as a result.
How Do You Work With An Executive Assistant?
Drop me a line to tell me how you have begun working with an assistant, and how it’s changed your business (and your life!).