Time broke and stuck in a rut

Finding time to work ON the business


By Neill Vining

In a growing economy many businesses are facing issues that they haven’t thought possible since the recession hit.  And while most Chief Executive Officers say that they will take having the problem of “too much business” any day of the week, the issue of  not having enough time to actually manage the business is what’s causing them trouble.

This is a concern a lot of First Coast businesses have encountered as of late.  Most small companies have been forced to dramatically downsize over the last decade, but with consumers starting to spend more money, there’s now a greater demand, and often not enough people to meet it.

This is a good problem to have, but one that a lot of CEO’s haven’t had to manage over the last few years. And when time is already a luxury that doesn’t exist for them, not one that most are willing to spend more time trying to fix.

That’s what led Mike Potts, CEO of Feature 23, a St. Augustine based software development company to seek guidance. “All in one year, we moved into a 3300 square foot office and grew from a staff of five to a team of 14.” He says with the growth came a host of issues related to growing a small business.

Michael Jones

Michael Jones,  President of CEO Focus in Jacksonville, mentors executives faced with issues like these. He says being “time broke” is the biggest excuse he hears when trying to get a company on board with his program. “It’s ironic when CEO’s give the time excuse,  because that’s one of the things we work the most with. If we can get them out of the business and get their businesses to function better, we can frequently create the time they need.”

Jones says businesses across the board took a very common response to the economic problems that the country was facing – they cut back on expenses. “It was a very rational thing to do and works well for a short term problem. But unfortunately this problem wasn’t very short term.”

He says commonly, executives have had to cut back on staff and started taking on more of the burden themselves just to keep the business afloat. “They’re making money now that they’ve made it through the recession. These are good companies, but they are broke on time. They don’t have time to do anything and most importantly, they don’t have time to innovate.” Jones says he’s trying to empower executives, like Potts, with that luxury.

Jones explains that the CEO Focus philosophy is unique but realistic. He recruits like-sized CEO’s from all industry’s and puts them on an advisory board together. The meetings are monthly and last 4 hours. “You come and talk about challenges and opportunities to executives that may have been down your same path before.” He also argues that putting decision makers from different industries together is what makes the program work because it cuts back on “inbred thinking”.

Potts agrees that the board of directors meetings are a great advantage and a great value to his business. “To have access to other CEO’s with a wealth of experience, shaves years off the in-the-field experience one gets as a CEO. It’s truly hard to put a price tag on that.”

Jones explains that it’s not a quick fix and that his clients usually stay with the program an average of six years. “It’s the continuous feedback cycle – continuous improvement that moves businesses further. Not something you do for a month and all the sudden it works wonderful again. Companies don’t build overnight and they can’t fix everything overnight.”

“The creative brainstorming that takes place when you put some highly motivated CEO’s in a room together and present a problem, goal or a challenge is an awesome experience,“ Potts describes. “It’s simply a different type of thinking. When you’re in the day-to-day mindset it’s a very difficult thing to think more abstractly. You don’t always have access to a group like this.”

While time and money, Jones says, is the biggest excuse he hears, Potts claims that it’s an invaluable investment. “In my opinion, new or inexperienced CEO’s need to understand that time is an investment like any other. The ability to better invest it in the correct things pays huge dividends later.”

For more information on CEOFocus visit


Neill Vining is a contributing writer for Advantage Business Magazine


Leave a Reply