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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Create or Delegate or Automate
But get something done...

By Paul Tomori
Friday, July 03, 2009 at 15:34:50 (EDT)

I have been reading "How we work" articles in INC magazine of late and have found them to be really insightful. The standard Biography always provides big picture sweeping panoramas of a person's life often after they have died. Such books are usually interesting and motivational too, but they lack the kind of nitty gritty detail that to me would be the most revealing.

Here's why...

I am great believer in breaking down projects into simple 15 minute chunks. I can almost always find 15 minutes to get something done and when I have that time, I want to be able to look at my to do list, pick off the next most important 15 minute task and just get it done. It's amazing how the little company I started 8 years ago has really just been built on that theme.

However, I get caught up in how to assign priorities, whether to work on a client task or a business automation system.... whether to go out to client meetings or bring them in... and also how to structure my day to get the most out of it. Having a couple of children really forces you to focus on the most important stuff AND to establish a list of 15 minute tasks.

So, what I really want to know is how did Sam Walton or Jack Welch or any one of several other business titans get their stuff done in a kind of daily overview.

I don't want to read a whole biography. Just tell me what did Sam do on a daily basis. Let's get a snapshot, not an epic biography. The INC magazine series gets into the daily routine of its profiled business people. It asks them what tools they use, who they have to help them, how they balance work with family, what they do for recreation, how they stimulate creative thought, how they determine what to do next.... etc....

I would really love to know what are the tools used by highly effective people to get things done. I wish there was a book on this that profiled the more prolific people.

Hey, I am no slouch... and I get a lot done. In fact, of the people I know, I think I am one of the more efficient, but that's not saying much, because a) I emphasize efficiency where others don't and b) I just don't know THAT many people. Besides, you don't have to be in poor health in order to get healthier, right? Similarly, you don't have to be inefficient in order to improve your efficiency.

When I view the more productive people either directly or through INC profiles or through biographies, I can see that there are basically 3 types of people in business:

1. those who create
2. those who delegate
3. those who automate

Obviously, we all must do some combination of the above, and perhaps excelling at all 3 is the trick.

You can have GREAT success by "creating". Look at any decent artist. They create something once and sell it a million times. Success.

If your talents are more in the delegation area, you might do what Warren Buffett does. He eyes the horizon for a promising profitable companies, then buys them, then let's them keep running without interfering. This stretched into his personal life too. His son was quoted as saying "dad never cut the grass - he always hired someone". What son hasn't seen their father cut the grass?!?!? There you go! Warren Buffett's son! I could just see Buffett running the numbers... "if I cut the grass 20 times each season at 2 hours per cut for 20 years, that's 800 hours... sheesh, I could better allocate those hours to researching prospective acquisitions! It might cost me $10,000 over the next 20 years to pay someone to cut my grass, but with those 800 hours, I might just make a couple of billion dollars! Wow.

And the best is automation. Imagine if Warren could have designed a way to have the grass automatically cut, then he would have a couple of billion dollars PLUS his $10,000... PLUS he could license the invention to others. Laughable, I know. But seriously, in my business, I can spend 10 hours working on an automation system for some small area of my business... in accounting let's say... and that 10 hours will save me the cost of paying somebody to manually do the task for 1 hour every week for as long as I am in business.

I know what Warren would say to me... "Paul, just delegate someone to spend those 10 hours so you can spend your time deciding how to allocate all the money you'd be saving"!

Ok, my 15 minutes is up and the computer process I have been waiting for is now complete. Got to jet! My next 15 minute task is a 30 minutes drive!

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