You’ve heard the adage that time is money. It was as true for Ben Franklin and the Young Tradesman as it is for business owners today. While the advice is sound, gaining more time to make more money is a very real challenge.

A big reason business owners feel like they never have any time to do anything proactive is that they are stuck in the weeds of their business, fixing the same problems and fighting the same fires again and again. It’s an exhausting reality for businesses that have grown quickly and not had the time or energy to build solid foundations that their business can rely on.

It all boils down to the abstract concept of ‘operations’. Think of operations as the gears that turn all day, every day, to keep your business running. They live deep in the core of your business and while you can’t see them, they have a profound impact on how productive your company can be. They are the formal and informal ways in which your staff execute their duties. They are the tools and systems that send information from one end of your business to another. They are the methods your team uses to accomplish their goals. They are most likely broken or are, in the very least, a bit rusty.

Broken operating processes mean that band-aid fixes never stick and the issues that plague the day-to-day keep happening. It means precious time is diverted from productive tasks to dealing with things that slow down progress. To avoid wasting time on things that don’t make you money, you need to fix what’s really broken.

The biggest challenges business owners face when fixing broken operating processes are:

  • Perspective: just like it’s hard to proof-read your own work it’s hard to be objective about your own processes.

  • Pandora’s Box: operational processes are so interconnected with everything you do it’s very easy to start thinking about one problem and end up uncovering a whole bunch more.

  • Time: you’re getting through the day because you need to keep the lights on. You don’t have time to fix things because the little time you have should be spent doing revenue-generating activities.

  • Priority: it’s likely that the processes you’ve built have worked in the past, and work about 60% of the time now. That’s not terrible, so you may not see the value in spending your time thinking about things that are sort-of okay.

The risks you face by leaving operational deficiencies in place vary in severity but all end up at the same place: lost time and lost money. In many cases, poor operating processes stall growth because time is spent getting by instead of taking advantage of rare opportunities. It’s a frustrating and completely avoidable situation that all businesses face and that can be mitigated by investing in operational improvements.

Improve your operating processes so you can make better use of your time and make more money.