Ever wondered how to transition from a hands-on business owner to a passive shareholder? Master the essential steps with the Quad Activities system!
In this episode of The Wize Guys Podcast, Join Tim Cuasbrook and Kristy Fairbairn as they share their experiences and insights on this transformative process, and learn how to create opportunities for your staff while increasing productivity and growth.
We're excited to be joined by Kristy Fairbairn, who has successfully implemented the Quad Activities within her firm. She shares the importance of focusing on strategic tasks in Quad 2 and reveals how delegation can free up your time for the activities that truly matter.
Don't miss out on this valuable conversation on mastering the Quad Activities and revolutionizing your business through delegation!
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So today's topic is the Quad Activities, analyzing your Quad Activities. This is something you've probably heard us talk about a fair bit at Wize. We're really big on the Quad Activities and it's coming under process, and it's really about the withdrawal journey. Also focusing on the things that you can get the most leverage out of one of the things that will drive the business forward the most and one of the things that just aren't really meaningful at all and how can you reduce those. We'll dive into more on that later. So just kick off on the Quad Activities. Ed always talks about the pathway to becoming a business owner and he says that most people are employees and then some people make the jump from employee to sole trader, not many. T hen an even smaller percentage of people make the jump from sole trader to business owner. So you're already in the smallest, one of the smallest categories if you're a business owner. On today's call, however, there's a fourth category, a fourth and final category that almost no business owner makes the journey to a fourth quadrant if you will and that is a passive business owner. So a business owner who doesn't actively run or operate their business. So if you kind of think of it like a quad employee, sole trader, business owner, passive shareholder of the business. Most of you know enough about how to start a business. You've probably decided the business or maybe we've got some employees on the call as well, so you know what that's like. Everyone's been an employee so that needs no introduction or explanation. But that last jump from business owner to passive kind of shareholder of a business is arguably the hardest jump to make. The fewest people have done it. I've met people who are running $4 or $5 million businesses in Australia who I personally know with my buddies. They're wildly successful but they're absolutely stuck in the day-to-day operations of their business. We've been trying to get them onto Wize for a while now. They're absolutely desperate to get partners in or to sell. They don't know what to do and they're at that crucial point where the victims of their own success and the business keeps growing. But they're not able to make that jump from business owner to passive shareholder. I'd say that the key to making that jump is in today's topic, which is the quad activities. Maybe not the most exciting thing we talk about at Wize, but when I kind of couch it in that way, it really is the way that Ed was able to withdraw himself from the business and create a lot of opportunities for his own employees to be promoted into positions that he was previously filling. And it's very much the way Jamie's been able to withdraw from his business as well at the same time as it's expanded. So hopefully that gives you a bit of context for why the quad activities are so important. We're looking at the quad activities itself Quad 2 activity, so we'll look at that now. In terms of what the quad activities are, Kristy, I was wondering if you could take us through a little bit of what we've got in the WizeH ub around the quad activities and really how you implement the quad activities in your firm.Kristy Fairbairn:
It's so important and the two go hand in hand in recognizing your quad activities and being able to delegate successfully to your team members or even outside of your firm. So, look at the small things each day that you're doing. What is consuming your time? And using your Quad Activity Sheet in the WizeV ault or, if you have a WizeH ub set up, start to use this to filter through all of the things. Because so often we get caught up in the busy work, the noise of getting things done, and we feel like, 'Oh, we just did 10 hours a day, we must have achieved so much.' But if you actually break it down, 'How many things did you complete that day? Would you actually look back on it as a leader and think it was a successful day?' Or you know, I think to Jamie who's running a $4 or $5 million firm now and he works 7 hours a week. So often we can think that that can't be possible to have a firm that size, you must be working 40- 50 hours. You don't have to, if you recognize what you're doing with your time, what quadrant you're spending your time in, and ensuring that you're spending as much time that you allocate to your firm as you can in Quad 2, not in Quad 1, build a team that can support you to take the Quad 1 activities away so you can develop and grow your team.Tim Causbrook:
Yeah, really well said, Kristy. Call yourself a delegating demon, and delegating is a large part of it. And then we'll look at how you do that really implementing the four quads. The first part is actually doing the Quad exercise, which I'll show you in a second how we can do in the new WizeHub with some of the best IPs they've put in here. And then, once you've analyzed it, well, what do you do with the things that you shouldn't be doing? You've got to delegate them and we've got a way of doing that in a systematic way as well. And it really is important for the owner to do this first because the owner's probably the most expensive resource in the firm and therefore the one that you should be using, the business should be using it in the most appropriate way. But also, if they can get into strategic things, which is Quad 2 and improving the business, it's going to filter on to employees and clients. It can't be overstated how important it is for the owner if they're able to be taking on more of that activity. A lot of those things in Quad 2, they're not urgent. So they don't necessarily get done, but, like my friends who run these really big businesses $4 or $5 million businesses. They're stuck and they're kind of stunting the career growth of their employees as well because they're unable to do these not urgent but important things. So just quickly, if you haven't heard of the quads before and we're talking gibberish it's something that Dr. Steven Covey came up with or is famous for talking about. Maybe you didn't invent them. There are four quadrants. Quadrant 1 is urgent and important And that's the stuff that kind of tends to distract us because it's urgent. So it might be something like a client calling or a client emailing an employee saying I've got this huge issue. It's those urgent things where you kind of have to stop what you're doing and deal with it, and they're also important things. So they're not things that you know some urgent things you can kind of ignore if that makes sense. So they're things that you shouldn't really we can't ignore because they're important but they are also urgent. The other quadrant up the top which is important is Quadrant 2, which is important but it's not urgent. If you can think of things in your personal life it might be like getting fit and eating healthy food. It's not urgent that you do those things. You know you won't go to a hospital from having a heart attack immediately as a result of it all. You know you get diabetes immediately. It's very gradual, but it is important that you do those things And it's not urgent. If you can put it off without feeling any stress, it's definitely not urgent, right, but it still might be important. And really, when we think of a business, when you're working in the business, seeing clients or what have you, or managing staff, you are in Quad 1. So it's not that Quad 1's bad. It's not bad because it's important. So this is something that's really crucial. It is important, so it is good to be in that quadrant. The issue is when you're only in that quadrant if you're in a leadership position and you're only in that quadrant over a long time, the business is gonna suffer as a result. It either won't grow, which means no growth, means no possibilities or opportunities for staff. It means that the owners aren't gonna get capital growth either. It means that the clients won't be serviced as well as they might be, for instance. So something like training is a Quad 2 activity. Unless it's kind of legally mandated, which it is in Australia and I think it is around the world for accountants, you don't have to train, and a good example of this is junior staff. You don't have to train junior staff. I think it's the norm out of all the firms I've worked with and why is it in my own firm to not train staff? I've seen people for 10 years not really improve in terms of their professional ability. It's kind of amazing to think about, but it's true because it's not urgent and because firms don't know how to do it. But your staff are your greatest single asset and resource, so it's crazy not to train them. Think about how much compounding happens if you could train someone over 10 years, how much better they'd be by year 10. But yeah, recognizing new opportunities, JDs, marketing, doing tuck-ins, networking, educating staff, using acknowledgment letters, scheduling the work these are all Quad 2 activities And you'll notice that doing all these things takes extra work. And because it's not urgent, you might not feel like you should be doing this, especially if you're kind of drowning in quad-one, as a lot of people are. But the kind of paradox is that if you do these Quad 2 activities it results in a more calm, more peaceful business. So Ed always talks about sharpening the saw. That's another kind of way of looking at it. There are two people with with saws in a forest and one's hacking down trees with a blunt saw. One stops to sharpen the saw and the one hacking down the tree says, 'Oh, I'm gonna. Why would you do that? You could be chopping trees right now.' And the guy sharpens the saw quickly and overtakes the one with the blunt saw. That's a classic kind of Quad 2/ Quad 1 little parable, I guess. For you, if Quad 1 is working in the business, then Quad 2 is working on the business. Everything we do and why is Quad 2. It doesn't matter if you're an employer or an owner, if you're coming to these monthly calls, if you're having internal meetings about the business not about clients but about the business. We use the Fab-5 for the managers' meetings, for instance, even a daily huddle. While it's dealing with Quad 1 things, doing a daily huddle, the active, having a daily huddle, is a Quad 2 activity. You don't have to have a daily huddle, you can put it off. Quad 3 is urgent but not important. It could be like a Facebook message getting pinged on your phone or a social media update pinging on your phone, junk email, or a phone call from a salesperson. They're urgent because they're grabbing your attention, but they're not important And they take up a lot of our time. I think even me today. They still take up a lot of my time, these things. And the more you can ignore these things, the more time you'll have back to do Quad 2 activities. Because what a lot of people say is they don't have time to do Quad 2 activities and they think it's because they're in Quad 1. It's because they're in Q uad 1, 3, and 4, and obviously you can't do Quad 1 because it's important. You can not do Quad 3 and 4r. Quad 4 is not urgent and not important. That's like literally going on social media without having that prompt. Things social just don't have any output at all or reason for doing them. And why do people do Quad 3 and 4 things when they're not important? It's relaxing, maybe it's enjoyable, and it feels like they're being productive even though they're not. Especially in the admin, I found a lot of people in admin do Quad 3 and 4, not realizing that it's not important. Doing an audit of every admin task in your business is a Quad 2 activity. And I highly recommend that if you haven't done that yet, because you can see. I would say I don't know what the percentage is, but a large portion of admin tasks that I've seen across my time working in my own firm and other firms it doesn't have an immediate output. That's another way of looking at it. So that's just a quick snapshot of the quad. If you don't work on Quad 2 activities, they do actually become urgent eventually. You're kind of putting things off if that's another way of looking at it.Kristy Fairbairn:
It's really about being strategic, isn't it in Quad 2? So you prevent as many things as you can from becoming urgent and then you also put in structure to deal with the things when they are urgent and you can't fix them.Tim Causbrook:
Yeah, and that kind of stuff just isn't even on my radar. And I think that's the case for a lot of Quad 2 things. They're not things that come to mind immediately until you have situations that trigger them like that. Kristy, can you talk us through how you can use this Wize Delegation Guide to figure out what activities you shouldn't be doing? And, for the ones you shouldn't be doing, how to delegate them? That would be really great.Kristy Fairbairn:
Absolutely. So it's filling in either a time order if you want to just do a rough sheet through the day, or if you can start putting things into your Quad activity in the Wize Hub or in the resource that we have in the Wize Vault, just listing down the things and being quite specific. So if you're completing a BADS or sales tax return, what components does that include? Is it that you're starting it from beginning to end or are you simply reviewing? Try and be quite specific and micro with what you're working on so that at the end of the day or the week you can then analyze those tasks. Of what division does that fall into? Who should be doing that task? Who's responsible for it? And, piece by piece, you'll be able to recognize even in your team dynamic. Are you lacking resources? Because you see all of these things that belong to a senior accountant and you don't have one on your team, or you're doing a lot of things that really could go to admin but you haven't felt you could let go of those tasks. So many firms come to Wize. They're still doing their own accounts, they're still entering their own bills, they're still paying their bills, they're still processing their own payroll. That's something that you could delegate. That's something that you could be delegating to your admin team to manage for you or someone in your production team to be taking care of so that you can focus on other things. By just being specific in pulling out the tasks throughout the day that you're doing, you take away the emotion. Because if we look at it and we think, 'Oh, I don't want someone else doing those things,' or 'No, no, I can do them. It's easier.' We just take that away. We look at the facts of the tasks that you're doing and analyze them quite specifically. And, as I said, look at the resources on your team. Who could be doing this task? Do you have that person on your team now or do you need to? What kind of tasks? It was great for me when I first joined Wize to see how important it was to be hiring a client manager because there were a lot of things that need to be done but not by me in relation to managing our client relationships. So that was one of the first hires that I went about doing. And then saw there was still a lot of grinding work that I was stuck doing. So building out the production team, pushing more and more work down. And now we're at the point of getting our production manager to do her own quad activity sheet tracking. So that we can see what are the things that she's still bottlenecked doing, and what are tasks we can delegate down to the team further and free her up more so that our client managers are freed up more as well. Because it just works in that synergy of you know sort of started the firm owner, moves into your client managers, frees them up, push that work down. Look at the resource mix that you've got.Tim Causbrook:
Yeah, that's the way. I guess the thing a lot of people ask is how do they delegate? And it always says we're not born managers, we're not taught how to manage, especially when come out of production. The key to delegating is really in standard operating procedures. So where he says how, here you could write develop SOP on completing fast, for instance. You can write a list of when do you want to have delegated that by now. We can click complete when it's done. And what you'll do is, if you keep adding those in there, you'll have a whole list of all the tasks that you do every day, every week, and you'll get a really good sense of really how much work you're doing in Quad 1 versus Quad 2.Kristy Fairbairn:
In the development of the Wize Hub that Jamie's now taking it into a bigger scale of what's the firm traffic type things. And then we can look for our firm owners and then our leaders. What are the activities that they're specifically doing in the firm? We know that we need to get those sales tax returns done and that we need to get those BAS lodgments prepared and done, but who can be responsible for them? Who's responsible for emailing clients, and following up on missing documents? That's not a senior client manager. That can be done by your admin team or someone in production. It was so close to it sometimes that we deal with those clients, even getting admin to draft the email, getting admin to manage if it's been replied to or not, prompting for a follow-up, taking all of that busy noise off the mind of the leaders in the team or the production manager, the client managers, freeing them up to focus on other tasks.Tim Causbrook:
This is my favorite part is Quad 1, 2, 3, and 4 and you can see here stop three and stop four. If it's one, we shouldn't be long-term it. You may not have, as Kristy said, she found someone who could do those jobs for her. You might find and this is what I found a lot of the stuff here I was doing was admin and I shouldn't be doing it long term. But it was Quad 1. And I ended up having so many activities that actually had a new job description and a new job position. Out of my quad activities, I was trying to delegate. I went and hired someone and gave them all the tasks that I couldn't do anymore because I had to do other things with my time, including Wize, and it just brings a lot of clarity to it. So you can see here stop, start, continue, delegate. So we'd say delegate this. Who do we delegate it to? Sally or whoever it is new SPM hires the role. Who do we delegate it to? I love the way Jamie's mind works. You can kind of see already it's in division four, which is production, and so you'd only be delegating it to an accountant, a bookkeeper, or a production manager. You can kind of see how logical he is. So you can kind of go down here and hit production manager or maybe it's a tax return should be an accountant, not actually a senior production manager. When are you going to complete it? By the end of the tax year? And then, when you have completed it, Yes, we'll put it in progress. For isn't SIP needed draft SIP on how to complete a sales tax return? Jamie was working 60- 70 hour weeks and he was doing, you know, maybe a quarter of what he's doing now in revenue. This was kind of the first thing that really set him on his journey to withdrawing and building up. Not just withdrawing, it's building up a business at the same time. So you said, Kristy, about delegating, like getting someone to draft the email. This is why it's so beneficial to employees when they're going to start looking at the withdrawal journey in this way. You cannot delegate without building up at the same time. So the reason why most people, I think, say to me, 'I can't delegate that.' I've done this with a lot of the firms I work with. They say I can't delegate that because there's no one they can give that task to, because they either haven't hired the right people or haven't built people up And they stuck in that business owner quadrants telling you all about at the beginning of the call, and I haven't transitioned to passive shareholder and they never will until they start building up their business. That's why these SOPs are so important. You might find that you don't have an SPM and that a bunch of the activities on your quad, and that's when you can click this time breakup. When you put more things in here, this will look better. But you can actually see, by division your breakup, how much time you're spending per division and you've got all the activities there as well, by quad activities as well. And so you might find that you actually need someone to hire someone to delegate a whole bunch of stuff off your plate. This will give you so much more clarity around what that position is that you're looking for. If you look at it this way, as opposed to just throwing another body at the problem, getting another junior accountant on board or a keeper on board who doesn't really fix the problem you're still having to do everything.Kristy Fairbairn:
You're really looking at this from a strategic perspective of where am I going to feel the greatest impact in my week to allow me to create the firm that I want for all that you have. So it's a really critical part of looking at it. And, as Warren said in the chat if it's something that has to be done more than once, create an SOP. And, as Jamie will tell us all, have a sticky note on your desk, on your wall. Should I be doing this? If not, who are you going to delegate it to? And, as Tim said too, it's not you don't have to have the people to delegate to yet, but to get the awareness of what you're doing, that be allowed shouldn't to look at who you need to hire, and also allows you to start removing yourself from those things as soon as you do have someone come into your firm, rather than hiring the wrong person and throwing tasks at them, hoping that they'll magically make life better. It's being considered with what you're doing. It's using your time effectively, with the greatest impact and power that you can.Tim Causbrook:
I've got one of the most perfectionist accountants you'll ever meet in your life. It's just one of the best accounts as well. And you know, if she can delegate to people who she knows don't know as much as her and won't get the job done as best as she can, you can do it. You definitely can do it. I can't believe this accountant has come so far and come to the stage where she is, but it's 100% doable. And especially even if you're a client manager, I mean that's probably the scariest thing to delegate. I asked Ed about this once, when he was such a good client manager, why he was OK with his employees taking over. He loves that 80-20 rule, doesn't he? He said that if they do 80% of the job right, that's good enough for him And he can come in for that last 20%. Or you know, the last 20% doesn't matter as much as that 80%. So it's not about perfection. I think if it is about perfection, the business will forever be dependent upon you And you'll find, as a symptom of this, that your staff won't be being built up. I think it'd be very strange to find a case where staff is progressing in their careers when kind of all the main things are being held by that one potential owner. So it's great for the owner, it's great for the business, it's great for the employees. If we haven't had a look at these quad activities, if you do time sheets and we're a big advocate of time sheets at Wize if you do time sheets, just get maybe your admin staff to dump all the tasks that you've put in your time sheets for the week in here. And then you can go through and do the activity like quad activity analysis and everything else about who you're going to delegate it to when you're going to delegate it, and then you can start drafting up SOPs, which is another whole session in of itself.