By Maria Thimothy, Sr. Consultant at OneIMS who helps businesses grow by creating & capturing demand & managing & nurturing relationships.
They say timing is everything. However, in business, timing is often sacrificed in the interest of time, or lack thereof. We are perpetually short on time; everything is business critical and needs to be done “ASAP.” It is rare to add another week to a deadline or feel that we are “on track.” Instead, deadlines are often brought forward, and we always feel like we are on the back foot. Many times, “urgent” deadlines are arbitrary, and the results are not nearly as good as they could be if given more time.
So, while the saying “time is money” is not entirely inaccurate, perhaps it would be more precise to say, “timing is money.” Looking at time as an enemy you are fighting against in order to turn higher benefits means that you are not concentrating on the opportunities that time can afford. By keeping your focus on timing and how that can help you achieve your long-term business goals, you can be better able to set realistic and business-relevant deadlines, thereby reducing unnecessary stress and improving the quality of your results.
Define your goals.
Determining how to get timing right is really about identifying and analyzing your goals. You have to be able to define what you want to achieve and then ask yourself why you want to achieve that specific goal.
For example, you want to set your business up for long-term, multi-decade success and decide to build an entirely new website, so you hire a digital marketing team. As a business owner, you want to push hard to get your website up and running as soon as possible, assuming that the faster the site is up, the sooner you can start raking in the profits. However, you have to stop and ask yourself: Is reaching this short-term goal of getting your website online really going to serve you in the long term?
Let’s say that you can get your site up and running in three months, but if you added six weeks or maybe even two months to your deadline, you could also develop a full-scope social media strategy and then launch all your platforms to coincide with a week-long expo you will be attending. Five, 10 or 15 years down the line, those extra two months of waiting may have really paid off with little or no detriment to your bottom line.
In our fast-paced world where everything seems to get done at lightning speed, businesses often underestimate how much time it takes to complete certain projects, especially those that involve organizational change or systems redevelopment. Any large-scale project that involves multiple people or teams requires a holistic approach to identify realistic milestones.
To do this well, project leads need to gather feedback from various teams as to when and how they believe different parts of the project can be delivered. This helps inform upper management of the bigger picture and gives them feedback as to what can realistically be achieved in a given time period. Ignoring what is realistic and pushing instead for an “ASAP” approach puts undue pressure on teams and risks missing deadlines, which in turn has a domino effect on the rest of your plans.
Having realistic goals and expectations for a project is key to informing timing. Knowing when you can expect things to be done to specification means you can time related projects such as product launches, collaborations or campaigns much more effectively.
Focus on quality.
Once you know your goals and you have determined what you can realistically achieve in a given time, it is important to also consider the quality of what you are hoping to achieve or produce. For example, it may be realistic and consistent with your goals to launch three new products in the next year. Long term, this sounds like a good investment for your business and is something both feasible and profitable.
But what if you slowed down your development and only released a new product every six months, which would extend the timeline by half a year? With the extra time, you could focus on enhancing or refining the quality of your product and you could simultaneously improve your timing as you avoid oversaturating your market with new products or fatiguing your clients with too many “new” launches.
Instead, you have the chance to release high-quality products or services over a longer period of time, not only giving you more time to respond to feedback and tweak your next launch but also drip-feed new products into the market in a consistent way.
Take your time.
When you are a business owner, you want to see your business thrive. So, it is hard not to give in to the feeling of urgency when you think of how many others you are competing against. However, you cannot allow short-term goals to cloud the bigger picture and trick you into setting unrealistic deadlines simply because you think you are in a race against time and losing potential profits.
Instead, focus on your long-term goals and how you can use timing to help you achieve them. Understand what your realistic deliverables are and how you can time their completion to coincide with other projects, launches, collaborations and events. Forget about “running out of time” and instead leverage timing to enhance the quality of your achievements to ensure the long-term success of your business.