Wally is of course the real star of the Dilbert cartoons.

I was thinking today in talking to a new entrepreneur that there is a lot to learn from Wally in creating a scalable business.

Everyone in business is presented with enormous numbers of things to do. It’s very easy to become a “busy fool”. But being slightly lazy is a much better approach by following my 5 stage guide to avoiding unnecessary work:

1. Don’t do the task

The first thing when presented with a task is to consider whether it’s worth doing. A surprisingly large number of tasks can simply be dumped completely. When deciding whether to dodge something a key criteria is how much time the task will take to complete. Many meetings or phone calls fall into this category.

2. Procrastinate

There’s a lot of tasks that really need to be done at some stage but not right now. If it doesn’t cut costs, increase sales or improve customer satisfaction then it probably can be pushed back a few months without much issue.

3. Automate the task

A huge number of tasks in an e-commerce business simply should never arise in the first place. Some real world examples from my experience of massive time wasters are:

  • Reporting and KPI’s which should be an automatic reports;
  • Standard emails to customers which should be templates;
  • Customer contacts which should be self service;
  • Google bidding is almost always done better by Google Conversion Optimizer;
  • Form filling which should be eliminated (such as TSCA by ETD);
  • Checking customer orders from Zen Desk (should be thru API);
  • And lots more.

4. Outsource the task

I am a reasonable accountant and I quite enjoy it. Give me a complex journal entry to complete and I imagine myself in Dickensian London with a quill pen sitting on high stool in front of an ink stained desk and thinking through my double entry.

However this really isn’t a great use of my time. In the last month I have doubled sales at FCC through concentrating on the US project. There’s no way I could add anything like that value through my accountancy skills and much as it pains me people like Paul Kelly at Blue Crest are much better at it than me.

5. Delegate the task

Arranging for our bins to be collected from FCC has been a truly Herculean task. It took many hours of effort. I’m very pleased that Clare rose to the challenge and battled with Biffa to get the bins collected and the sums taken out of our account refunded.

However it really would not have been a very sensible use of my time to do this.