Inspired by a few comments I heard Ricardo Semler make in his TED talk, I decided to adopt some of his philosophies and live more. I decided to work myself out of a job, so I can spend more time on the bucket list and out of the office.
The first change I decided on that seems like a good idea is the long weekend. For first steps I’m working on one long weekend a week. Every week. So starting today, I’m spending Friday’s away from the office.
Just to give you an idea of “the office”, for those who don’t know me, my office is virtual, my company is virtual in that it can operate from anywhere with an Internet connection, but my customers are real. I currently serve over 900 individual customers across over 300 companies in Southern Africa. When I’m not at my desk, I’m usually in front of my laptop in a coffee shop tending to customers requests and the operational requirements of the business. But as of this Friday (today), I plan to be away from both offices while the business still continues to serve all of its customers.
When I’m at my desk my focus is on driving operational efficiency so that I don’t have to work at all, but at the same time, I work on being able to service more customers and give my customers a better service. That way I’m freeing up my time, growing my business, and growing customer satisfaction and in turn customer loyalty.
In January, one of my businesses took on over 100 new customers. Up until that point, it only had 20 customers, and its operations were simple and unobtrusive. I had plenty of spare time. But since taking on all these new customers, my workload skyrocketed. I had 25 hours a day of admin, development, and operational fires to iron out. My focus for the past 6 months has been on smoothing and enhancing my operational systems and processes to the point where 99% of customer requirements are catered for by my ITS systems. This means that most of this operational work can be done in less than a minute from a mobile phone or tablet.
So, this Friday, I’m using my mobile phone to service customers requests every hour or so for a few minutes at a time, and then I’m restricted to not being in the office. That gets me thinking about my business in a whole new light.
My focus previously was on using the systems I have to make the processes I have more efficient in servicing the customers I have. Not being in the offices causes me to focus on processes I don’t have that will allow customers to receive the same level of service or better without involving me. It makes me think differently about the same problems and to proactively imagine new scenarios where my business serves its customers without me.
Interesting day indeed.