Investing Your Most Precious Resource: Create A Time Budget
by Jason Block is CEO of Travel Quest Network/Worldvia.
If you're like me, a new year means sitting down and reflecting on the past year's results and defining your outcomes for this one (I call them outcomes rather than goals – outcomes are things that will happen). Your outcomes may span your professional and personal life. A specific sales and profit target, developing new expertise, advancing an old skill, enjoying a specific experience with a loved one, or checking off the next destination on your bucket list.
After you define your outcomes, the critical step in translating those ideas into reality is to make investments against them. These can be monetary investments, but most often, they require investing something far more valuable: your time.
Time is your most precious resource. You've heard the phrase "spending time," and for a good reason, time has a cost. Every activity you choose to invest your time into is at the expense of some other activity. So how do you know where to invest your time?
Time Budget is every bit as critical as a Financial Budget and a Sales Plan. Unless your business is large enough to rely on employees to produce all of your defined outcomes, your Time Budget is the map to making your outcomes a reality.
If this feels overwhelming, don’t worry. Travel Quest Network has tools and resources to help. Reach out to our Travel Business Strategists so they can help you determine how best to work with us. That way, you can focus on growing your business.
Create a Time Budget
Creating a basic time budget can be relatively simple. As you gain experience working with a time budget, you can make yours more detailed.
Identify your total available business hours.
How many hours per week do you allocate to your travel business? How many weeks per year will you be out of the office? Most small business owners are never really off the clock, but there are days or weeks when you shouldn't budget time to make progress on your business. In travel though, we have the luxury that we can double-dip. We can usually derive at least some professional benefit from personal travel. Sometimes, we can gain quite a lot if we align a travel experience with a targeted travel niche. Multiply your weekly hours by your number of working weeks. This gives you your total annual business hours available.
Allocate your available hours to Sales and Business Activities.
Your time allocation between your Sales Activities and Business Activities depends on the maturity of your business. Your time is divided into two major buckets:
- Sales Activities: Client qualification and consultation, Product/destination research, Proposal creation, Selling, Booking, Supplier transaction communications (emails, phone calls, hold time), and Client communications (pre-sale and post-sale)
- Business Activities: Business administration time, Marketing activities (content creation, social activity, campaign creation, and management), and Educational activities (courses, conferences, events)
If your business is relatively new and you don't have many clients, you will want a much higher time allocation to Business Activities that can attract new clients. If your travel agency is mature, you will need to allocate most of your time to Sales Activities to serve your base of clients (again, check out the message on the Number One Metric in Travel to look for ways to find more time to invest in Business Activities). In the end, you should have a number of hours that you think you can invest in Business Activities during the year.
Identify the required Business Activities.
Most of your outcomes will require an investment of time in your Business Activities. Consider each outcome and identify the specific Business Activities required.
For example, one of your outcomes may be to generate an additional $15,000 of profit in your travel business this year. To do that, you've identified that you need an additional 145 Prospects. To accomplish that, you've identified three business activities you need to invest some time in (e.g. create a better lead magnet on your website, create five quality social media posts per week, and enhance your Agent Profiler to achieve Super Agent status).
Assess and prioritize your outcomes.
Evaluate the business activities you've identified for each outcome and estimate how many hours each will require. Next estimate the benefit achieving each outcome will produce. Benefits can be difficult to estimate sometimes. If you're finding it difficult, simply rate each on a 3-point scale. 1 point for a low benefit, 2 points for a medium benefit, and 3 points for a high benefit.
Not all outcomes are created equally. Some are difficult to achieve and will require a lot of time. Some may be easier and require less time. Some outcomes will produce a huge benefit, others a small one. Prioritize the outcomes that will deliver the most significant benefit for the least amount of time in a ranked list.
Using the three Business Activities I listed above as an example, I may assume that creating a better lead magnet may take a 15-hour investment and produce a medium benefit, creating five quality social media posts per week may take 130 hours through the year and produce a medium benefit, and enhancing my Agent Profiler to achieve Super Agent status may take 25 hours to produce a high benefit. With those assumptions, I would prioritize Agent Profiler #1, lead magnet #2, and social posts #3.
Budget your Business Activity time.
This is as simple as taking your prioritized outcome list and the corresponding Business Activities and filling up your available Business Activity hours. If you cannot cover all of your outcomes and activities with the hours available, that's okay, Rome wasn't built in a day. However, if you are unwilling to wait, you have a few options:
- Evaluate the total time you are willing to invest in your business. Is achieving one of the defined outcomes worth investing more time in your business?
- Look for ways to improve your efficiency. Reducing your Sales Hours per Transaction can help you reallocate time between Sales Activities into Business Activities.
- Create a weekly Business Activity plan. With your final prioritized Business Activity list in hand, you need to schedule a specific time to make it happen. Fill up time blocks by week for the whole year.
Continuing the example above, if I had 10 Business Activity hours per week available, I'm going to knock out my Agent Profiler to reach Super Agent status in the first two and half weeks. I'm not going to get sidetracked with the 50 other opportunities on my Business Activity list until I have the top opportunity completed. I'm not going to dilly dally though. I'm going to go full tilt to get it done, then I'm going to move to the next on the list.
Review and adjust. Review your Time Budget monthly.
Things change over time. New opportunities present themselves. You can adjust your Business Activity list over the year. Just be sure new Business Activities you prioritize above your initial list will deliver a bigger or faster benefit. Avoid new and exciting uses of your time unless you're sure they will pay.
That is a relatively simple approach to planning your time investment. As with most things in business, it is easier said than done, but also like most things in business, the simple act of thinking about things in this way will pay a benefit. Keeping time on your mind will subconsciously impact how you choose to invest your time and make you a better business builder.
So, what are you waiting for? There's no time like the present. Get more expert advice like this, access to the best travel suppliers, along with all the tools to power up your travel business with Travel Quest Network. Learn more at travelquestnetwork.com.
Jason Block, CEO of Travel Quest Network/WorldVia, is a lifelong travel addict and entrepreneur. Drawing on his diverse experiences as a banking consultant, restauranteur, and public company executive, Jason has been the CEO of WorldVia since he founded the company in 2014. Jason and his wife Jillian reside in Milton, Georgia with their three daughters.
This article was originally published on travelquestnetwork.com.