I love Zappos as a customer and as an admirer of well run companies. They have built a successful business on treating people very well, both employees and customers. Here is a quick article in Fortune containing their 10 commandments.
It’s not that I stopped writing blog posts, it’s just that I stopped posting them here. I find that I’m constantly writing out thoughts, but I struggle consistently posting them here. Instead I usually will email them to a few different people to get feedback. I realized today that I could simply edit those emails and start posting them here. So the 3 of you that still check my blog…I”m back.
My partner Chris and I have been having some long discussions lately about working more efficiently (more work in less time). He has been inspired by the 4 hour workweek (which I read a little over a year ago). I think there are a lot of great thoughts in that book, but I really don’t think it’s likely you can start a successful business following all of his guidelines. Chris and I have been back and forth on this. Here is my latest email on the topic (sorry if it is a little jumbled).
I’ve been thinking about this,the slippery slope of trying to work super efficiently. I’ll admit it is a struggle for me. On one hand I get very excited about the idea of “getting 8 hours of work completed in 4 hours,” and I think striving to do that could really make some interesting things happen like better delegation / outsourcing skills, and being more relaxed. But on the other hand I’ve been racking my brain thinking about “successful” entrepreneurs I know. By successful I mean those who have built a business that more than pays their bills, they have a great team around them, and lots of upside potential. Some of these people I’ve known for awhile, others I met recently…but one thing I know for sure: they are all VERY active. I realize that the 4 hour workweek is not about only working 4 hours a week, but really about delegating and confronting simple tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible. Part of this approach is really about attacking email, encouraging people to cut down significantly on the time they spent writing and responding to emails. I agree 100% here. I think email must be controlled or it will control you. But I think other things in the 4hww are just not practical for entrepreneurs.
Building a business to me seems a lot like building and maintaining physical fitness. They are actually very similar…as most people want to be “fit,” but very few people (myself included) really do everything it takes to be fit. When it comes to working efficiently vs not working there are parallels as well. There’s no doubt that you can truly “get a body like this with just 30 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week,” as they say in those Bowflex commercials. The problem is very, very, few people work themselves hard enough in those 30 minutes for that to be true. Even worse the way that is written I think most people assume then that exercising and getting fit should be easy, so they slack off even more, cutting their sessions to 2 times a week, then 1, then it’s a piece of crap in your basement. They also get pissed and annoyed that they are not fit, despite doing what the commercial said.
I think the Tim Ferris mantra is like the 30 minute quote above. It is absolutely possible to build a successful business with just 4 hours of work a week, or 4 hours of work a day. The problem is that most people don’t know enough about entrepreneurship and/or their business to really effectively use those 4 hours of work a week / a day. So if they do truly just work the 4 hours a day / week, they don’t get enough finished to really make the business work, and it becomes a piece of crap in your basement.
I completely agree that most people (myself included) simply do not work efficiently, and don’t delegate properly. But like exercising, you really can’t know what are key exercises to do in order to only workout 30 minutes a day 3 x a week, until you spend a fair amount of time learning and doing lots of routines. It means you’ll try a lot of crap that won’t help in order to find the ones that do help. Unfortunately in order to test a lot of things, it’s going to take some time. So if you are only exercising the 30 minutes a day, it’s
going to take you a lot of days to get to a working routine. That’s ok, if you’re aware of that and comfortable with that (most people aren’t). Or you can try to speed things up a bit by spending more time. Yes you’ll have wasted time, but with good tracking and patience, you’ll get something that works.
It seems that in building a business or getting physically on track, the most important part at the start is showing up. That sucks because you may waste a lot of time you think you don’t have, but it seems like the only way you can make the mistakes you need to make to learn the lessons you need to learn.
Furthermore people who are successful in either (being very fit or entrepreneurship) tend to do several things:
-constantly grow, learn, and redevelop themselves / their routines / their business
-spend more and more time doing it, the better they get, despite being more “efficient” (which seems to kind of challenge 4hww a bit)
Maybe if you’re spending a lot of time trying to not spend time on the work / business you are in, you shouldn’t be in it in the first place?
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1) Exercise 2) Floss and use mouthwash 3) Eat red apples 4) Don’t worry 5) Take vitamins 6) Think positive thoughts 7) Meditate 8) Be extroverted 9) Have a positive emotional style 10) Wash your hands. A lot. 11) Get plenty of sleep
Failure is not attributed to the trier, he’s a mere witness to the passing event.