Using Time to create Space

space time

We live in a “go go go” world, where we set ourselves targets and feel we need to achieve them right away, asap, now, now, now!

Recently I was talking to a business leader who was feeling pressure to and felt they had no space. No space to think, to rest, to consider alternatives. They were simply in “go go go” world.

Recognising they needed to create space mentally and emotionally, we talked through some options, underpinning them with financial fundamentals of the business.

At the end of this, they said to me:

“you just used Time to create Space”

How did I do that for them?

So, the business leader told me I had “used Time to create Space”.

This had two simple steps.

  1. Focus on the solid fundamentals of the business
  2. Choose targets and goals to defer

Focus on the solid fundamentals

In order for a business to create space using time, it is first critical that, over time, the fundamentals of the business will create more profit and more cash for the business.

This may seem stunningly obvious, but perhaps not in this age where we often glorify businesses that focus on raising cash rather than earning profitable revenue. Not the qualifier of “profitable” before revenue.

If a business is not adding to profit (and to cash) each year, then it cannot create space over time, it will simply at best stay in the same situation, though more likely the situation will get worse.

If, on the other hand, the fundamentals of revenue, gross and net margin are solid, then over time, bit by bit (even when things are feeling hard and you have no space right now), over time things will improve.

Choose targets and goals to defer

If things are tough and you are feeling, as a business leader, that you have no space, sometimes you simply must create that space for yourself and the business so that you can be making the right decisions at the right times, as opposed to being under huge pressure and likely making errors.

Some of the things that cause leaders to feel they have no space is that they had goals and targets which are almost always time-based.

Those deadlines and dates are often reasonably arbitrary in the first place, then made worse when circumstances, constraints, pressures etc change, without anyone accepting that the target date is no longer reasonable or even achievable.

So, to create space, and with the major caveat that your business fundamentals must first be sound, it is simple. Something has to give. You need to defer (or even give up on) certain targets and goals.

“you just used Time to create Space”

In the example that inspired today’s article, the business leader does have solid revenues (well up on last year), very healthy margins on their core products, as well as great diversification of products they are innovating and a pipeline of new venture partners.

Their issues are not related to the core fundamentals, but to events and issues that have hit the business in recent times, so leaving the business leader feeling they have no space.

In our discussion, we therefore first reviewed the numbers, the fundamentals. Once we were clear that those numbers will continue to support the business over time, we were then able to review key time-based targets and goals.

With the recognition of solid fundamentals that can and will support the business over time and further recognition that some dates for goals and targets are no longer realistic, we simply took one key goal and shifted the target back one or two years.

This suddenly then looked achievable once more, it will simply take a little longer.

At this point they said:

“you just used Time to create Space”

I hope this is a tool you can use for yourself in your leadership.

Oh, and if you wish to do this with ease and clarity and more quickly, I’d love to work with you to create space for you using time (and your fundamentals).

Also published on Medium.