So, how do you spend your time? It’s an important question and I’ll guess your success or lack thereof may be directly related to this question. The Founder of B2B CFO®, Jerry Mills, wrote in his book The Danger Zone, about three types of people in business: Finders, Minders and Grinders. Jerry defines these types on their activities.
Finders are successful leaders and owners who spend most of their time thinking about the future:
- What are we going to do?
- What do we make?
- How do we increase sales?
- What skills are we going to need?
- Where should we be located?
- How do we separate ourselves from the competition?
The focus is on the future, planning and strategy. This is a special talent and very few people possess the skills and foresight to do this well. The primary responsibility of a Finder is to increase the value of the firm.
Minders, a somewhat larger group of people focus on the past. They spend their time on what has already happened. They ask a different series of questions:
- Did we produce items within specifications?
- Did we follow proper procedures?
- Were the activities properly recorded?
- Were the items produced within cost?
Typically, these folks work for quality control or accounting. Those who are particularly skilled can also think in terms of creating controls that help monitor and track the ability of the company to implement new strategies. In other words, they can operate as minders and finders. A good CFO should be able to straddle both worlds.
The final group focuses on the present. Grinders, the largest group, ask questions about today:
- What do I make today?
- What is the schedule today?
- What do I invoice today?
- What do I do today?
Today! Today! Today! Their focus is totally on the present.
Unfortunately, too many leaders and especially too many owners of small businesses, spend too much of their time Minding and Grinding and not enough time Finding. Finding is hard work. It forces management to plan–a process that can be difficult. But it is necessary. Without planning, companies count on continued good luck. So, instead of leaders and owners working to create the desired future, their companies face haphazard futures devoid of plans.
Part of what makes Finding difficult is that many owners find solace in working on invoices and creating products. For many small owners, Finding means letting go. Those owners were the original laborers responsible for creating products for sales when they started the company. Over time, employees were hired who became responsible for producing those items or providing services, but the original owners may still enjoy working in those areas. In essence, this may be where owners are most comfortable. However, this isn’t where they are most needed by their companies.
Let me give you an example. While working with a small company, I became convinced the company needed to focus on increased sales. I asked the owner how much he could increase sales if he devoted half of his time to going out and meeting potential new customers. He felt he could increase sales by $1,000,000 a year. I pointed out that half of his time was about 1,000 hours. One million dollars divided by one thousand hours means the owner’s time was worth $1,000 an hour to his company. In this case, it easily made sense for the company to hire more people to complete the daily tasks to free up the owner’s time. That way, he could focus on Finding to increase sales.
We started on this process about two years ago. In that brief time, the owner has increased his sales by more than $3,000,000. By the end of 2012, I expect his sales to increase by 220%. Since I started working with him, the biggest difference is he is focusing on Finding and he lets other folks Mind and Grind.
I enjoy the strategic part of business or working on Finding activities with my clients. Much of what I provide is support for owners and managers so the Minding activities can be removed, or dramatically reduced for the top executives. The personnel who are best able to increase the value of a company are at the top of the organization. If they can keep their focus on the future, they are doing what is most important for their company.