How procrastination is eating away at your business

Wednesday 26 April, 2017 | By: Kevin Gammie | Tags: small business, smart business, business efficiency

What business task have you put on the back burner lately? Perhaps a more important question is: How much is neglecting that task costing you?

What business task have you put on the back burner lately? Perhaps a more important question is: How much is neglecting that task costing you?

Procrastination doesn’t seem costly. You think to yourself: ‘it’s just a minor thing and I’ll get to it another day right?’

But then a week goes by, a fortnight, then a month. Six months later and you try to put it out of your mind because your inaction has left you feeling guilty and stressed.

Why procrastination Is a problem

Procrastination is a common problem for small business owners. After all, you wear many hats and you must prioritise, but if you continue to put off even seemingly unimportant tasks, they will gnaw at your consciousness like a bad dream you can’t shake. Worse, they could cost you business.

Why do we procrastinate?

With procrastination, two parts of your brain are locked in battle. One side says ‘let’s just do what’s easy and fun today. Let’s go for the quick win or the low hanging fruit. That other boring stuff can wait.’ But, the more pragmatic part of your brain is standing in the corner scolding you because it knows that when you neglect the boring, and less sexy parts of your business, they don’t just go away magically. Instead, they fester.

When you know you should do something, but constantly put it off, it has something to do with commitment, or lack thereof, to a cause. If something’s important enough, you will do it. Let’s face it, at some point when you need to find a toilet that becomes a top priority and nothing gets in the way.

However, when you’re unsure about the task’s outcome, you tend not to be as committed and that’s when procrastination sets in.

If you doubt that your efforts will bear fruit, you can sabotage your success because when you put things off, the half-baked, rushed attempt with poor results becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When that happens you can use the excuse that you weren’t sure it was going to work anyway, or you didn’t have enough time. Do you see what’s happening here? Your brain is hardwired to protect you, but sometimes it interprets that uncertainty you experience with a looming task as pain, so it naturally primes you to procrastinate.

Why understanding procrastination’s Cost to Your Business Is Key

If procrastination is something you struggle with, you may be feeling a little guilty about it or worse, you’re completely paralysed by a task (or several tasks), and can’t bring yourself to take action.

Do not despair. You’re in great company.


What I learned about procrastination and business

Recently I was researching how many business owners procrastinated. Interviewees varied from solo business owners right through to people with 10 people in their team. Surprisingly, of the first 30 people I called, only two were completely on top of things. All of these owners were running reasonable businesses. I didn’t pick on people I knew were struggling.

Based on this early investigation, that means about 95% of us, yes I’m one also, put off things we know are good for us.

One of the barriers to getting stuff done, when you really would prefer to be doing something else is that you don’t really understand what your inaction is costing you.

How to determine the cost of procrastination so you can take action

Well, allow me to shed some light on this. Below I’ll help show you just how much procrastination is costing you. My desire is that this will give you the motivation you need to get started on tackling those tasks you’re shoving aside. To understand the cost to your business (and life), simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Awareness and acknowledgement

Yep… it’s as simple as, “Hi, I’m Kevin and I’m procrastinating.” Far too often we just pass it off as ‘I’m busy….my client needs me. I know I’m a little disorganised but I like to be… or’ insert any other excuse here. Until you acknowledge that you are, in fact, procrastinating, you’re not ready to do anything about it.

Step 2: Work out the value of a customer

What value does a customer have to you over the course of working with you (not just a one-off transaction). I’m assuming you have clients: some loyal ones, and some that just buy occasionally and specifically to cover a short term need.

Explore your client base and determine what percentage continue on with you through each step of your service. Alternatively, look at the average time a client will stay with you, then calculate what they spend with you and your business over the course of the relationship with you.

Step 3: Consider how that task could improve your business

There are two types of projects: Those that save you time and those that make you money. If it’s a task or project that saves you time, consider how much more efficient you’ll be when the project is implemented and running smoothly.

I appreciate this may itself take some time, but it’s important to acknowledge that delaying the start delays the whole project. So, if it takes 13 weeks to complete the project, that’s how long it will take no matter when you start. 

Then simply multiply that time per week you will save, once you’ve implemented a project thoroughly at your charge-out rate. That’s your productive time. If it will save you five hours a week and you charge clients $150 per hour, then every week it saves you $750 or gives you another 5 hours with the family, which is priceless.

If this is a project that will bring in clients, however, then you need to look at the number of clients you believe this project will attract each week once you have it mastered, not the difference after a couple of weeks but the difference once you have it working properly. Every week you delay it is a week further away from it benefiting your business.

Then, multiply the clients it will bring in weekly by the lifetime value of a client, because that’s what you’re missing out on, not the $150 ph transaction.

An Example of How to Work Out the Cost

If an average client spends $2000 per year and stays with you for 3 years, that’s $6,000 per client. If this project is likely to bring in just two clients per month, that’s half a client a week, and each week you don’t implement, it is costing you $3,000 because you can never get that time back.
Procrastination’s True Cost
Procrastination isn’t just a slight delay in your schedule. It’s breaking a promise to your future. It’s delaying your success, costing you long term clients and potentially damaging your reputation. Each week that goes by eats into your success. You can’t wind back the clock. When a project will deliver time or clients and you delay, that’s time and clients you’ll never get back. Once the opportunity has passed, it is lost.

When you look at procrastination as something that is robbing you of time and clients, it gives you a completely different perspective on those tasks you’re pushing to one side.

Over To You

Make a promise to your future self to stop putting off the things you know are good for your business, and the things that are good for your family, because, not only are they costing you time and money but they also could be costing you your health, because undone tasks take up brain space unnecessarily.
What are you procrastinating on and how much is it costing your business?

About the contributor:

Kevin Gammie started his first small business in 1999. Kevin’s worked as an Accountant, Consulting Salesman & State Manager in Fortune 500 Businesses as well as smaller and mid-size organisations. These days his passion for small business owners success is what drives Growth Mentors. Simply put Growth Mentors “Grow Great Businesses” through utilising their knowledge, understanding and expertise in brain science, emotional Intelligence, mindset and sound business practices. Combining these to help business owners get Clear, Confidence and Focused for a sustainably profitable, successful future. Website:

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