Here’s something I wish I knew back when I started my first business. Of course when you start a business with a partner, you can delegate tasks between each other. Playing to your strengths. But once I followed this 15 minute rule, things started to click for me. It’s simple really. If I can get something done in 15 minutes, then I did it myself. If for some reason I could not get it done, then I would pass it on to someone else more capable. Now I know what you are thinking. For a bootstrapped business in startup mode, that is not always the easiest thing to do. But in reality there are many ways to get things done faster by following this simple rule.
My first example is web design. I hired my friend to help manage projects. He was a talented artist but had to learn about project management. He eventually learned my rule very well. As he began to knock out tasks for me, we both realized that some were taking hours and costing ME more money because he was paid by the hour.
Instead of adjusting his hourly rate, I adjusted our standard procedure for a road block.
The goal was to get as much done as possible, in the shortest amount of time. So when it comes to road blocks, how do you manage it? Some plow through. Others side step it until it becomes a major issue. One of the best methods for road blocks in any project or situation is to consult an expert (if you are not one). This is the beginning of my 15 minute rule. You are probably only really good at a few things. For example I am great at improv. Put me on stage and give me a topic and I will talk about it for 30+ minutes. Or hand me a baseball and tell me to hit a moving target 50 feet away and chances are I will get it on the first or second try. I am also great at placing the right person in the right job. part of my skillset is knowing when I am not good at something. Like a good marketer, I talk a big game. But when it comes to getting things done. I have a huge team of prospective people lined up who can knock out the work with me. So let’s get back to my project manager.
He was struggling to get things done and he was attempting to plow through problems which was jacking up the price for his services. We both decide that two things needed to be done. First, I needed to motivate him to get projects done quicker, so I put incentives in place like bonuses and benefits for positive work. Secondly I empowered him to seek out 3rd parties to help him get the work done. He was given a small budget (which I was happy to go over if need be) to get projects moving faster.
All of a sudden the projects were flying along. We had web developers and designers clamoring to work with us because of how much we were getting done. For once I was slow on the sales side and had to catch up quickly. The thing that changed this was my conversation with him about the 15 minute rule. We set up this standardized rule: if he was working on a project and came to a task that was going to take him more than 15 minutes, he had to pass it on and delegate it. Now I know what you are thinking, what if there was an emergency task or what if someone was not available. Certainly there are exceptions to this rule. But I asked him to use his best judgement. If a website went down he would tackle it but at that 15 minute mark he would have to collaborate and ask for help. Even if he knew no one was available. He had to ask for help. In many cases it was a simple rollback of a website change that he did not know about, or the code changed and just needed a tweak. But since he was not an expert in PHP and CSS, his job was to identify issues, find out who was best fit to fix them, and make sure it got done in time. If something was not going to be done on time then he needed to communicate ahead of time to me and or the client.
This 15 minute rule changed a lot for my business and I think it can help change a lot for you. It forces you to let go of the things you “think” you are good at, and allows other hard working people to get stuff done for you. This is truly one of the quickest ways to grow a business and relieve stress. You can apply this to your personal life as well. From grocery shopping to walking the dogs. Try it out. Take 15 minutes and if you cannot get something done then delegate it. As you begin to release the tension and grip on your need to control projects, you will find that you can take on more and get things accomplished at a faster rate. Best of luck to you – and by the way – this only took me 15 minutes to write 😉