5 Ways to Add Value
By Shane Bender
Have you been doing the same processes for years and don’t know why? Are you afraid to change something because you think it will break? Do you subscribe to the mindset, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? The problem with that philosophy is that this fast moving world will pass you by. The horse and buggy were not broken when the automobile came. Or more recently, we thought the old flip phones and even Blackberries were great until the iPhone.
How can we truly stay up-to-date with all the changes? Technology is changing at a fast pace. Corporate employment is not the safe job it used to be. I heard someone say that in 20 years, 50% of all jobs will be entrepreneurs and contractors. Is that possible?
Twenty years ago in college, I thought Accounting was a safe profession. There would always be the need for accountants. At one of my Corporate jobs, most of the accounting was getting outsourced to countries such as India at a fraction of the cost.
We have to always assess our processes, our skills, and the latest technology. As a fractional CFO, my job is to stay on top of the latest trends and be strategic. We should all strive to add value regularly and be strategic. Here are 5 ways to add value to any organization.
1. Consistently read the best books
Twice this week, the importance of reading good books was drilled into my head. The first was an article by Daniel Ally called “5 Tips to Read 100 Books a Year“. He mentions learning how to speed read and not read a book cover to cover. I must admit that this strategy might be difficult at first, but most books don’t have a lot of new concepts. Most likely there are a few nuggets to apply to your life, and you want to get to the point as fast as possible.
I started slow-reading a book this week called “The Slight Edge”. It mentions consistently reading 10 pages from a good life-changing book every day. It seems easy to do 10 pages. Think of how much you would read in one year. Consistently learning a little bit each day will not look like much after one day or even a week. But after a year of reading over 3,600 pages of high-quality material, you will see a difference.
2. Stop doing busy work
I have a new client in which my company is responsible for all accounting and finance from the transactional bookkeeping to high-level CFO work. During my first week, I found myself spending all my time receiving payments, entering bills, and cutting checks. I knew I should not be spending all my time doing this. I have the knowledge to do all of this, but I should not be spending my time on it. My value is elsewhere. Therefore, I hired a bookkeeping firm to help me.
We need to look at all of our processes and decide if we should cut some of them or delegate. What if a process seems redundant or unnecessary? Should we keep doing it? What if we stop and it causes a problem? If a redundant or useless process needs to go away, we should consider the risk and reward. We save time by stopping a task at the risk of possibly needing information we no longer have. I would argue to be fast at cutting redundant processes so you quickly understand the effect.
3. Spend time thinking and less time doing
Thinking in today’s society seems like a lost art. We spend quite a bit of our free time watching Netflix or checking Facebook or sports. Sometimes, there is no time to think. What if we kept asking ourselves why are we doing this task? Last night my wife and I spent 15 minutes trying to find something to watch on Netflix. We said it was movie night so we were going to watch something even it was horrible and our brains turned to mush. We had done this many times before. We couldn’t find anything good, so we turned off the TV and went to bed early. Great decision. Why hadn’t we done this before?
4. Test new technology
Lately, I have been using technology such as Quickbooks Online, Asana, and Bill.com. I am researching Expensify to save even more time. There is no reason to keep using the old technology/processes just because you are afraid it won’t work. For a small business, the worst that can happen is that you are back to the old paper-driven processes. Most likely, you can make it work in the long run.
5. Be intentional
This last point is almost a repeat of the first 4 points. In order to be successful whether you are a business owner, a consultant, or an employee, you have to make a conscious effort to think about everything you are doing. Is this a waste of time? Does this have value? Is there a better way?
My suggestion is to put time on the calendar to read, study new technologies, and to think. Get rid of what you shouldn’t be doing and delegate what others can do better, cheaper, and more passionately.
Stop wasting time and start doing what you love more efficiently, more profitably, and with excitement.
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