Time Is Money: Asking For Help Is Worth Its Weight In Gold
When I first started my consulting business, Time ReDesigned, as a side job almost 15 years ago, I didn’t give much thought to the idea of building a network of support. I started out selling educational consulting services, working with districts and states to help them better serve the students and families in their communities. It was just me, myself and I and from a business perspective, I thought I needed to do it all! I scheduled my own consulting engagements, scheduled the travel, created training materials and resources and conducted all of the services myself. I took responsibility for all of the business office processes, from invoicing to collections and tax preparation. I continued to do this for several years, sacrificing sleep and time with my family in an effort to grow the consulting business, until one day a superintendent saw me speak at a conference and came up after my presentation.
A Simple Question Leads to a New Outlook
The superintendent asked me if he could have his assistant contact my assistant to book some time for me to come to his district to provide training for his administrative team. When I told him that I didn’t have an assistant, he was a bit surprised. He asked me why I was spending so much of my time doing clerical tasks when I could hire someone for far less than my hourly rate and save valuable time for things that ONLY I could do, such as content development and training delivery.
I didn’t have a good answer for his question, but it sparked reflection on my part. In my mind I thought I was saving the company money by doing it all myself. However, through the lens of opportunity cost I was actually losing a lot of potential revenue due to the time I was spending doing tasks that could be outsourced for less per hour than I was charging for my services.
Quite frankly, I have never been good at asking for help. Partially because I thought that in order to get it done right, I had to do it myself (that is a story for another day), and partly due to the fact that I wasn’t sure who to ask. I didn’t have a strong network of business development colleagues. I had a deep network of subject matter experts in my field, but I didn’t know anyone to ask for help with business office services, or clerical support, or accounting. According to Forbes (2017), there are four reasons that asking for help makes you a stronger leader, not a weaker one: choosing to live in a discomfort zone, choosing to protect your greatest asset, gaining different and varying insights and building the people around you.
I realized that I was being extremely inefficient and ineffective with my time and recognized that time is the most precious commodity a business owner has. Time is the greatest equalizer, as we all have the same amount to work with, 24 hours in each day and 365 days in each year. That is what we all have to work with. The way we spend that time is what sets the most successful people apart from others who are not as successful. So, what can we do to be more efficient and effective? One important strategy is to build a strong network of support, including a mentor who is willing and able to provide guidance and make connections to a variety of people who have experience and expertise that you need, at the time you need it most (Nast, 2018).
This network (including a highly connected mentor) will save you hours every week, simply by helping you solve problems quickly, or hire help, or connect you with a resource you need. Asking for help can save thousands of dollars in opportunity cost and maybe even more in actual costs because most of the support I have received from my mentor and the network he has connected me to has been free. The only thing network support costs me is the commitment to pay it forward through sharing my own talent and expertise with someone who reaches out to me. I am more than happy to help another entrepreneur along in their journey towards success, as so many have been willing to do the same for me.
The moral of the story is this: find a mentor and build a strong network so that no matter what you need the solution and support is a quick email, text or phone call away. Ask for help and pay it forward when you can. Time is money and asking for help from a mentor and your network is worth its weight in gold! Literally and figuratively speaking.
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