The myth of waiting for more time - start your coaching business now using the stairstep approach

Bear with me in this post, although it's a bit of a rant I've tried to make it as actionable as possible.

I've been thinking a lot about time in relation to starting a business.

At Training Tilt we sometimes lose customers. I always try and reach out to my customers to find out why. 

There are lots of different reasons why coaches cancel but one common one is coaches who are just starting out tell me they just "don't have the time right now". There are two problems here, the first is that we need to make the platform even easier for coaches to set their business up, we are working on that constantly, it's why we created the software. The second reason is that people just starting out have a naive understanding of what it takes to build a business over time.

This is the number one reason why only a very small percentage of those that want to create a business for themselves will actually succeed.

"When I have more time I'd like to start my own business."

"I've got a great idea for a business, I'm just waiting until I have the time to get started."

"I've got my business idea all planned out, as soon as I get more time I'll start working on it."

These are the calls of those who will most likely never get started on their own business.

Why is there no such thing as "more time"

So what is time anyway? I'm not going to go into a dictionary definition of time. in the context of business and in life, time is merely a series of moments of opportunity. Each moment represents an opportunity to act. Each moment is either an opportunity taken or an opportunity lost.

There is no such thing as "more time". For a person, time is a non-renewable fixed resource. As time passes, it's gone forever. There is no way to buy back the time that has passed, there is no place you can go to recover "lost time" or discover "more time".

Time itself is probably infinite, but unfortunately for us, we only have access to time during a relatively short lifespan. We are born, we live our lives and then we die. 

It's a very simple calculation to determine the amount of time we will likely have available to us over the course of a lifetime. In the context of business let's say we have all of the moments of time between the ages of 15 and 70 to take as opportunities for business.

That's 55 years, 20075 days or 481800 hours. Man, that sounds like a lot of time. 

But here's the catch, every hour that goes by is one less hour than you had before. Every day is 24 fewer hours than the day before, every week is 168 fewer hours than the week before and every year that goes by is a whopping 8760 hours that are no longer available.

Hopefully, you are understanding the illogical concept of "waiting" for more time. How could you possibly achieve more time by waiting, when the actual act of waiting results in LESS time?

But It's a very busy time in my life

It doesn't matter what extra time you think you've got coming to you it will always be exponentially outnumbered by the time that elapses while you wait.

Everyone is busy. I'm busy. Dave is busy down the road. Carol is busy raising her kids. John is busy going to the office every day working in someone else's business. Everyone is busy.

Whatever phase of life you are in now as you move into the next phase you don't get more time, you only replace the time you spend on things with different things

For example, if you are busy now because you have kids you might think that once they leave home then you'll have more time. You won't.

Here are all the things that will happen in the next phase of your life that will replace the time you now spend raising your kids.

Some of these aren't nice things to deal with but all of them are part of life.

1. As you get older and more experienced your job will require more responsibility and more time.

2. Your parents will age and become more dependant. They will need your help, care and your time.

3. You'll become a grandparent and will be called upon to spend time helping with the grandkids.

4. Your adult children may find themselves in some difficulty and will need your help.

5. You'll realise you want to spend more time travelling.

6. You'll need to upskill as technology changes so will need to spend more time learning.

7. As you age you may be motivated to spend more time helping others less fortunate.

There are hundreds of other things that will happen as you age that will take up your time.

A business takes years to develop, not weeks or months

Another problem is that people starting out for the first time (including myself) don't fully understand the time required to develop a successful sustainable business. This results in the budding business owner assuming they can afford to put it off until they have more time. Here at Training Tilt, we've been running in some shape or form since late 2011 but it was only this year in 2017 that the business became sustainable over the long term. Before that, it was a lot of hard work, slow growth, and changes in strategy with very little (or negative) financial return.

The most powerful thing I've discovered is that a lot of time is required for learning. And there are skills you must learn for running your own business that you simply cannot learn while working for someone else. As an employee, you may think you know what's required, but you don't.

All I can say is that I wish I started 5-10 years earlier.

It's not about time it's about priorities

Let's get to the nuts and bolts. Everyone is busy but some people achieve a lot more with their time than others.

What people say

"I don't have time for that now, I'll do it when I have more time"

What people actually mean.

"I don't prioritize that over the other things I'm currently doing with my time"

This was always my problem, I always knew I wanted to create my own business but for 10-15 years I dabbled but I never committed. I look back over that time now and can identify things I spent hours and hours a week doing that I could have easily committed to spending on building a business instead. But I didn't. 

I said to myself that starting a business was a priority to me, but my actions (the only things that matter) said otherwise.

Luckily at some point in my mid 30's, I made the switch in my head and realized that if I just kept "waiting for more time" then nothing was ever going to happen for me. What was I waiting for? I have no idea.

So what to do?

Two important things.

Firstly you need to recognise that time doesn't come from waiting, it comes from taking it or making it.

Secondly, you don't need to do everything at once, you can start your business slowly using a stairstep approach.

How to make and take time

Make two lists. One is a list of priorities in your life in order of most important to least important. Put your goals for building your business in the correct place on the list. Be honest about it, for some people, it's just not that important so it's best to figure that out now. No-one can tell you what your priorities should be.

The second list is of the things you actually spend your time doing. Include sleeping, eating, working, training, family, watching TV, relaxing, scrolling your Facebook feed, travel time and anything else you do. Take a week starting now and record in a diary everything you spend your time doing and how long you spend doing it.

Now compare the two lists. If there is anything on the second list that does not appear on the first list, then stop doing it and use that time to build your business instead. If it's not a priority, then why are you doing it?

Now, look at anything in the second list that does appear in the first list but is of lower priority than building your own business in the first list and stop doing those things.  Spend that time working on your business instead.

Here's where this exercise get's extremely valuable. If you say to yourself that you don't want to stop doing those things then all that means is that you got the priorities in the first list in the wrong order. That's ok, you've just discovered what your real priorities are. Sometimes you don't know what's important to you until you think you might lose it. At this point, you need to reorder your priorities list so it matches reality.

Loop through that exercise a few times until you've either found the extra time or you've decided that building a business isn't actually high enough in your priorities to make changes in your life. Change is a real killer, it's hard but it's the only thing that works if you aren't happy with the current outcomes in your life.

Start small using a stairstep approach

When you create a business you don't need to get to 100% straight away. In the previous exercise, you may have uncovered only a few extra hours a week. That's plenty to use the stairstep approach.

If you are wanting to do some one on one coaching, then start with a single client. If you want to sell training plans online then start with a single targetted training plan e.g "Half Marathon Training Plan for Working Moms". You don't need a full suite of products and services from day one, nor do you need a website with 20 pages. You need a single product or service, a website with 1-2 pages and a way to take payments from potential clients or customers.

As you start developing your business with very focused products and services you will learn very quickly and you can slowly add additional products and services one step at a time. You'll learn as you go so each time you add a new aspect to your business it will be faster and easier to implement.

The stairstep approach has many advantages

1. It takes less time.

2. It stops you from getting overwhelmed.

3. It means you can spend all your time and energy on a single product or service and make it awesome.

4. It's relatively inexpensive e.g our Solo plan starts at only $37 a month and you get everything you need to run your business.

5. You can learn as you go in a more focused way.

6. The mistakes you make won't be disasters (you will make them).

7. You can keep your full-time job and develop your brand at the same time.

Conclusion

Hopefully, I've made some sense in what feels like a bit of a rant. My main goals were to express the importance of taking any time you have and start your business journey today. You don't need to create a business that is all-encompassing from the beginning as that in itself is a deterrent from actually getting started. Start small, learn as you go and then add things one by one.

In a future post, I'll write about "Stairstepping" in more detail adapted for coaches from the approach originally coined by Rob Walling

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