Addition by Subtraction: Increasing Value by Doing Less

A closeup of a finger and a thumb spinning a wooden block with addition and subtraction symbols on it.

You don’t need to be at your business all the time.

In fact, you become more valuable as an owner when you spend less time in your business.

Instead of doing all the things, it’s really important to invest your time in things that will actually grow your business.

Here are the steps to doing that:

1. Choose one hour that you will dedicate to growing your business each day. Block this hour in your schedule every day from Monday to Friday. I’d pick the hour after your workout or the first hour of the workday. But don’t use this hour for showering or eating or taking meetings—those things won’t grow your business.

2. Use the hour to systemize your gym, set up goal reviews or referral programs, take a call with your mentor, create content for publication, set up advertising funnels, call former clients, learn about selling by chat, or do anything else that will help you grow.

3. Do not use the hour to revise your current handbooks, design a new logo, fix your website, run staff meetings or improve anything you’re already doing.

4. Do not spend the hour on social media, combing Facebook groups for gym owners or posting to Instagram.

5. Set a clock, but turn off your phone. Stay focused on tasks (usually one per day) that grow your business for the full hour.

Listen to my podcast “No More Disposable Days” for more ideas.


Perform an Objective Audit


Next, audit the time you spend.

For two weeks, track your time spent by the roles you fill in the gym.

Also track the “time bandits” (read more here).

Find the lowest-value use of your time and hire someone else to do that role.

Reinvest the time saved in a higher-value use of your time.

For example, replace yourself as coach of the noon class. Then, from noon to 1 p.m., shut your office door and build marketing funnels on Facebook.

Finally, take vacations to test your business.

Put your business under stress and see what breaks. Expose your gym’s weaknesses.

Take three days—Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Go away. Don’t check your phone or email. Return on a Sunday. Go into the gym for three hours. Fix any problems that your staff couldn’t solve. While you’re fixing problems, record the solutions in your staff playbook. Solve the problem forever.

Just as your client needs a coach, you need to step out of your business and view it objectively. You can triage problems only after you see them clearly.

And if you don’t make time to grow your business, you’ll spend all day working in your business instead of working on your business. That can be rewarding in the short term, but if you wanted a coaching job, you’d be working for someone else, right?

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