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Start the stopwatch by Nigel Botterill

A serial successful entrepreneur, Nigel Botterill says he has built his business successes in 90-minute chunks of time.

For most people who have started a business, the story usually goes as follows. Have a great idea. Decide to go for it. Get busy. Get really busy. Tick over. What then, if you could take your business to the next level, moving it from ‘getting by’ to growing faster than you could imagine. That could mean employing staff, delegating and concentrating on the future instead of today and tomorrow.

If it sounds idyllic, Nigel Botterill, who has grown several million pound enterprises, reckons that it’s completely achievable – in just 90 minutes, every day. There are a few rules attached to this approach. The 90 minutes must become sacrosanct, uninterruptable and focused.

Botterill says the approach originated when he first went into business for himself, 12 years ago. “When I started out in business, I was hugely ignorant about what it would take to succeed,” he says. “But a wise, retired man in my village was very supportive. One day he called in for a cup of tea and as we chatted he asked, ‘What’s the most important thing you’ve got to do to make your business a success?’

“I replied that if I could get and keep customers, everything would be alright. He responded, ‘When are you doing that today?’, and it was the most simple yet difficult question I’d heard. He was entirely right – the business was my most important focus, and any sane person would put time aside to work on their criteria for success.

“Next day I started a habit that I have adhered to ever since. Each morning I spend 90 minutes working on the things I need to do to make my business successful. Since that time I have built million pound businesses and this has been achieved in 90-minute chunks.”

Botterill has teamed up with author Martin Gladdish to share his simple yet powerful concept in a book, Build Your Business in 90 Minutes A Day. A fun, fact-filled read, the book looks at the science behind the 90-minute approach – for example, King Alfred is believed to have worked in 90 minute bursts, punctuated by the burning of candles which provided an early stopwatch.

“Research shows we can concentrate and stay in the zone for 90 minutes,” says Botterill. “Of course the magic of 90 minutes depends on the quality of what you do in that time, and it’s imperative not to be deflected from your course of action.

“Firstly you need to get in the right environment with phones and emails turned off, so that you are uninterruptible. My staff and family know that, unless the building is on fire, they can’t come in for those 90 minutes. We all need to recognise that the world won’t fail without us for this length of time. You need to have a clear plan of what you are going to do. Make a list of what you want to tackle and stick to it.

“You must also turn it into a habit, observed at the same time each day, and eventually you will start to crave it. Once I’ve had my 90 minutes, I am able to deal with whatever the day throws at me.

“Finally, the time must be focused on your business. Don’t just fill it up with sorting out customers’ work. That’s how businesses stagnate. For many it could be marketing, generating enquiries and leads – most companies are good at what they do but if marketing is not their natural state, this is a good starting point. Everyone is busy, but 90 minutes gives you the time to do the important stuff.”

Build Your Business in 90 Minutes A Day is published by Capstone.

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