“You can’t save time. You can only spend it, but you can spend it wisely or foolishly.” Benjamin Hoff, Author, The Tao of Pooh

Think about the adage “penny wise and pound foolish”. That’s when we get so excited about chasing little costs that we forget about the big opportunities.

Brent Parent, a great CEO I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the US, always talks about “the big circle and the little circle” and would ask someone on his team, “Are you in the big circle or in the little circle?”.

Focus on Opportunities

Big circles are opportunity and growth. This is where you should spend 95% of your time – doing something that adds value for a customer, creates a better relationship, and/or more business. A better relationship always leads to more business.

Little circles are problems

This is where you focus 5% of your time.

Brent’s company was incredibly successful with this approach. They were able to focus on opportunities. They were obsessively focused on growth and creating customer value. Being solid and good while growing – and not distracted by the little circle of problems, or trying to be perfect on efficiency or costs.

(But cost can also be in a big circle – such as negotiating a big contract and sticking to the proper ratios of your SG&A, or even on your gross margin.)

This is about being careful that you’re not spending $1000 of time to solve a $20 problem or $10,000 of time to solve a $1000 problem. There are lots of $1000 problems that shouldn’t be solved.

The Challenge

  • For you and your team: are you in the big circle of opportunity or stuck in little circle problems?
  • Where are you spending $1,000 of organizational effort to save $100 or $500?  Especially if it’s a one-time deal, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

For more about this, listen to Episode 76 of The Growth Whisperers.


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