Entrepreneur Lesson: Start Ups Should Avoid Time Management in Favor of Multiplying Customer Benefits

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While Moses was away for forty days receiving the Ten Commandments from God, Aaron bowed to popular pressure and created a golden calf for the Hebrews to worship. As a result God became angry and decided that the Hebrews would wander in the wilderness for forty years before reaching the Promised Land. Likewise, entrepreneurs launching start ups today are finding that popular time management techniques encourage entrepreneurs to work on the wrong tasks, rather than spending whatever time is needed to complete the tasks that will lead to the promised land of entrepreneurial success. As a result, entrepreneur start ups fail to succeed more often, are smaller and less profitable, and take longer to establish.

Entrepreneur start ups seeking to create billion dollar businesses should focus all their attention on the right tasks rather than allocating their time to what they think is important based on a new study.

Time management experts argue that you should split your day into a variety of tasks, emphasizing the most important ones according to your goals. Such a process would never have allowed Moses to spend forty days with God on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Instead Moses would have been spending part of every day (except the Sabbath) reorganizing the distribution of manna, planning for the deployment of scouts to look for the Promised Land and practicing his technique for bringing forth water in the desert. Perhaps Aaron had, in fact, taken such a time management course and had an objective to keep people satisfied with their religious practices according to their own preferences. If so, he clearly was working on the wrong task.

The Billionaire Entrepreneurs’ Master Mind, http://billiondollarbusiness.blogspot.com/, a global learning organization that helps entrepreneurs create billion dollar businesses from start ups headed by Donald Mitchell (co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution http://www.2000percentsolution.com/, The Ultimate Competitive Advantage and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise http://www.irresistibleforces.com/), examined the large companies that had the fastest growth under one CEO from 1989-2002 which had been founded as entrepreneurial ventures. This study determined that

The entrepreneurs focused their start ups on 7 key tasks, regardless of how long it took to accomplish the tasks:

― Creating a major new market or expanding an old one by 20 times

― Reducing the costs of customers and beneficiaries to use the start up’s offerings

― Adding customers 20 times faster than competitors at low cost

― Improving the start up’s business model at least every four years

― Employing a business model that didn’t require much external equity capital

― Building a management team deep in innovation, operations, finance and marketing

― Searching to find out what they didn’t know that they didn’t know.

This focus reminds many entrepreneurs of the way that Moses stayed with God on Mount Sinai until he had the Ten Commandments. It took forty days, but it was well worth the wait.

Donald Mitchell noted: “Entrepreneurs may be setting themselves up for failure when they set rigid deadlines for launching their offerings. If a delay means greatly adding to customer benefits, vast realms of opportunity will be opened up by being flexible rather than efficient in the venture’s use of time. Time management techniques can create a false illusion of progress while directing attention away from what’s really important to future success. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs usually are focusing on only one, two or three of the key tasks which creates the appearance rather than the reality of entrepreneurial progress.”

Mitchell cited the example of Tellabs which experienced a long delay of several years in producing its first telecommunications switch. But the company’s entrepreneurial leader, Mike Birck, was patient in order to ensure that the resulting product would be unstoppable. It was the right decision. After the product was launched, Tellabs experienced more sustained revenue, earnings and stock price growth than any other manufacturing company of its size in North America.

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