Tommy-Lee Zmuda, installer and founder of The Boiler Business, kicks off a series of articles looking at how to build your business to last, starting with how time is money for tradespeople.

If there were only four days in a working week, what would you change? The phrase ‘time is money’ is probably more accurate in the plumbing world than in most other industries. 

With so much choice for the end customer, business owners within our industry are often forced to calculate the value of a job based on time. This includes factors such as the pay per hour, daily rate, and how much we make after fitting that boiler. 

Most businesses never get to the ‘next level’ as the owner is only thinking about the immediate payment from this job to the next.

Yes, this month’s money is essential to paying the bills and putting food on the table, but what about the time we should invest into the important projects that will raise us above the competition, delivering better long term ROI on time invested?

Time management 

Effective time management all starts with a plan. How will you plan your time? Will you start with your essential business tasks, or will you plan your business around your family life first? 

There is no right or wrong answer as every business, and every family is different. One thing is for sure; without a plan, you will fill the spare time available with unimportant tasks and let customers dictate your time to their convenience. 

“I’m too busy” and “I don’t have the time” are both common excuses used by tunnel-visioned business owners. You need to stop and lift your head above the clouds from time to time to see the way forward. But, how can we run and build our business at the same time as spending time with loved ones?

The 5am club

Waking up at 5 or 6am every day might sound a little odd at first, but consider what one or two hours a day without any distraction could do for your business. Five to 10 hours every single week, allowing you to focus only on the important things, will quickly make a massive difference to your business.

Don’t wake up and waste time flicking through Facebook or doing regular day-to-day activities. If you are going to get up this early, make sure you make the most of it. Create a plan highlighting the most critical projects and try to work on these until completed. Break large projects down into one small task at a time. Try to focus on one area of business until you see the results, rather than hopping from one project to another.

The Monday/Friday club

Getting a full day off the tools to do our admin and business development is essential for any business. Many people use Monday as a business development day as it has less risk of jobs running over. 

Fridays might fit others better. Perhaps the thought of a relaxed day in the office and an early finish on Friday will motivate you to get all other tasks completed by Thursday, at whatever cost?

It is easier than you think. Take a day off and find a way to increase your profit by 25% a day. Four days at 25% equals the day you now take off every week. Work smarter, not harder.

Your new week

Using a blank weekly planner, create your new average week. Start planning by making time for your hobbies and loved ones. Next, allow just 5% of your week for your long-term project. Finally, allow 10-20% for the short and mid-term essential tasks, such as getting to grips with time and money. 

With less time now available, you must focus on delivering your most profitable projects, ignoring all the other work ‘opportunities’ that used to fill your working week. You will also quickly implement essential changes while working towards the game-changing long-term plan. 

Whatever day, morning, or hour you choose, commit in full for at least six months, and you will start to see the results; building a smarter business, making more money in less time. There is no point in working hard all your life to reach the end and regret not making the most of the simple things in life, such as doing the things you like with the people you love, so why not take these easy steps now to ensure a better work/life balance.