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When It Comes To Adding Value, Where Is Your Time Best Spent?

If there was only one thing you could do in the place you work, what would it be? What’s the one activity where you provide the most value? And the second? The third?

Recently, one of my prolific clients had to scale back their business operations and this included a majority of my allocated time. 

These types of challenging changes are helpful in clarifying and focusing. We get a moment to learn and grow that wouldn’t have otherwise come. 

Since I’d only have limited time to work with this client, where would it be best for me to focus? The following list of actions came to mind. 

  • Work with leadership so they can more effectively approach their realms of influence. 
  • Directing, delegating, and project managing (getting stuff done).
  • Working in areas where there is potential to increase income (marketing, sales, & conversions).
  • Business watchdogging (finding and bringing up important but neglected initiatives). 
  • Moving special projects forward when operational capacity is tapped out. 

In a previous post, I shared how getting stuff done was why it was worth small businesses paying me my hourly rate even when the tactical work could be outsourced for much cheaper. Three of the bullets above fall under this type of provided value. 

The other source of value is strategic in nature. When I’m working with clients, they're more effective in their efforts. Whether it’s prioritization or ideation, I’m looking out for the company’s best long-term interest and how to encourage and move towards it. 

Where does this strategic inclination flow from? Strategic is one of my top 5 in Strengths Finder 2.0, so there’s a natural strategic bent. 

The other tensions revolve around the way I’ve structured my freelancing and my connection with business owners. While running my marketing company, I had both positive and negative experiences with contractors and vendors. These lessons helped me structure the way I freelance, leveraging the advantages while minimizing the pitfalls. I’d become the ideal freelancer I always sought but struggled to find.  

I also experienced how hard it is to own and operate a company. Marrying these experiential tensions with a freelancing structure oriented around accountability and excellence constantly surfaces ideas and vision for effectively executing the mission. Both the success of my client and my freelancing business demand it. If my client fails so do I. 

So what about you? If success and failure were dictated by you contributing only what is most valuable, what would it be? (Hint, it is, you may just not know it.)

The next time you take a break or vacation from your work, reflect on this question. Discover what you’re best at or else life could force you to ask that question in the worst possible time. 

Hero Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

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