Here’s a question to kick off the New Year: What’s YOUR definition of productivity?
After 20 years of not only growing my own business into the largest marketing firm for MSPs but also being directly involved in consulting quite literally thousands of IT businesses of all sizes and phases of growth, from start-ups to $100 million+, here’s what I’ve not only come to believe but what I know about succeeding in business: extraordinary success in scaling and growth of a profitable business is 100% directly tied to the productivity of the owner or leader of that business.
After all, the great equalizer for all of us is TIME. From pauper to billionaire, we all get the same number of hours in a day. So, what is more critical than your ability to convert your knowledge, focus, energy, talents, resources, and abilities – through your investment of time – into profits (money) for you?
Obviously, most people aren’t productive, and even more don’t know what it means to be productive, so let’s start with a definition:
Productivity is about the intentional, strategic investment of your resources (time, money, energy, talent, people, etc.) toward the achievement of a specific goal or set of results in the fastest, most efficient way possible.
Therefore, being productive is not merely about doing the work. A productive person is not someone who sits in an office chair eight hours a day, producing three hours of work. It IS about someone getting eight hours of output (or results) in three hours.
For example, in my sales department, I can have two reps sitting side by side, one producing three times the quota, the other barely making quota. Same list, same offer, same training, same script, same tools, but two vastly different outputs. One is clearly more productive than the other.
Sometimes that’s because they’re getting more work done per hour (making more dials, not wasting time in their inbox, not surfing social media, getting paperwork done quickly, etc.), but it can also be that they are more practiced, and skillful, so WHEN they get a prospect on the phone, their conversion is two to three times the other person’s, which makes them FAR MORE productive.
It is also NOT about “time management.”
Being productive is not just about getting “things” done. It’s very easy to confuse activity with accomplishment, staying busy doing “low money” work or activities that are trivial, unimportant, and won’t have a significant impact – or any impact – on moving you toward your specific goals.
The vast majority of small MSPs struggling to grow and generate any profit are, in fact, “busy” every day, many to the point of working long hours and weekends, unable to go on vacation or take time off. However, they aren’t productive. They’re working a 50+ hour week like a hamster on a wheel but not making progress (scaling revenue or profits).
So, the first step in becoming more productive is understanding what true productivity is and disassociating “productivity” with time management or getting general activities done. That’s the fatal flaw in most time management programs.
They focus almost entirely on talking about getting “things” done and organizing your day instead of taking a moment to define the results you are trying to produce FIRST, then mapping out the specific critical drivers to get those results.
Once you understand what being PRODUCTIVE is, the next hurdle is to define what that goal should be – and this is definitely not as easy as it sounds.
Here’s a critical question: What are you optimizing FOR this year?
Growth or profits? Both would be nice, but trying to do both simultaneously is a difficult task. Growth eats cash for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re maximizing for profitability, you won’t invest as much into sales and marketing, which throttles growth.
Are you optimizing to sell the business in a couple of years or to keep it and build a leadership team that can run it in your absence? How you answer that question will alter your strategy and focus. Are you building a $1 million business? $10 million? $100 million?
Again, what you want will direct the productive activities you need to engage in to make that happen. If you’re attempting to get to $100 million, a productive quarter may involve finding a solid PE firm to partner with and an executive team who can work with you to drive toward that goal. If you’re attempting to get to $1 million, those would be useless, incorrect activities.
On a group coaching call with several members, we asked if they felt they had a “good year.” One said he did. We then asked him for his numbers – revenue, MRR, profitability, number of new clients acquired, etc. – and how they compared to last year. He said he didn’t know what any of those numbers were, or how much they improved if any.
We asked the obvious question: Then how did you know you had a good year? His response was simply, “I dunno. I just felt like it was.”
I’m glad he feels good about the year he’s had – and maybe when he gets the numbers that will be true. Maybe. I’m more in line with Mark Twain when he said supposing is good but KNOWING is better.
A safer, smarter plan would be to define exactly what a “productive, good year” is NOW so you can start making better choices about where you invest your time to maximize your productivity.
Now, that you’ve learned a little bit more about what it means to be truly productive, here’s an opportunity to get started right now.
The Next Generation MSP Tour begins in just a few weeks. I’ve got a ridiculously good discount code posted below too, just for readers of this article.
It’s a 2-day event, happening across 10 cities in the US where the leading MSP business experts will be revealing the EXACT strategies that every IT services business owner NEEDS to know if you want to grow and operate a successful business in the new year.
You can use Promo Code: SUCCESS2023 and you will SAVE 84% on the cost of these tickets. The decision is yours to make…