Small businesses owners today could easily be compared to the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, “no time to say “Hello”, goodbye!” Demands on their time in the business mean less time to spend on the business, and it’s a wheel that is hard to get off.
Unlike people with the “regular” 9-5 jobs, self-employed people, entrepreneurs and business owners often wear so many hats they can sometimes forget which one is on their head. A business owner must keep the business doors open, keep employees paid, customers happy, the website up-to-date, the social media posts made, the electricity on, their business flowing and growing all while trying to find time to do things like, breathe!
One thing that you need to accept as a small business owner is getting used to the idea that there will never be enough hours in the day to get everything done that you think you should be doing for your business. By learning how to manage your "inner game", and better manage your time, you can get more done, and also not only keep the feeling of getting "burned out" at bay but actually start to review your business and identify opportunities for growth.
Since the demands of your small business are likely to exceed the time you should make available for the tasks, time management becomes critical to the health of your business and just as importantly to your physical and mental health and your personal life. It's extremely tricky to spend enough time and yet not too much time on business tasks. It's an even bigger challenge to spend your time on the more important business functions and not on the things you enjoy doing.
So how can you take back the time?
1. Work/life balance
With long hours, multi-tasking and all that stress, small business owners find their work and personal life very much out of balance. The irony is most people start a business to find more time for family and to make a higher income. I am personally convinced your business should work for you, not the other way around, otherwise, you have just created another "job" for yourself. A good place to start is by taking stock of what is REALLY important in your life.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Take stock of what is really important to you. Start physically scheduling these most important items on your calendar and you’ll be very surprised at how the rest of your work will still get done.
Learn how to delegate. The owner’s job is to run the business, not work in it, but many business owners do not really understand the difference. As a business owner, you should know what the highest and most profitable use of your time is.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Identify 5 things that routinely consume your time. Assign those tasks to one of your team.
2. Time Management
With so many tasks to manage, it’s not surprising that the average business owner will work a 60+ hour week. Almost an offshoot of #1 (Work/ Life balance.) I hear over and over about how business owners have NO TIME. But guess what, time is the only thing in this world we all have that is equal. No matter where you live, your race, level of education or, religion, we all have 24 hours in a day. Some people just have already learned the skill of how to use their time in the most impactful ways. It is a skill that must be learned. It’s not always about the time physically spent working, but the time after hours spent thinking about the business that really adds up.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Start to pay attention to how you are REALLY spending your time. Is it in your email inbox, doing repetitive tasks, doing unimportant activities? Set 3 top weekly business development priorities. These should be activities that make you more money or improve your business must be done FIRST. Let all of the little things fit in around those REAL major priorities.
3. Attracting more customers
Since most problems disappear if you have enough money, small business owners worry about sales and attracting new customers. If they are a start-up, they’re worried about getting new customers. If they’ve been around for a few years, they likely worry about keeping their customers. Sales and marketing always should be top priorities.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Assess all the ways you currently bring in new customers. Investigate new ways of reaching new customers. An easy to improve sales is to just treat our CURRENT CUSTOMERS very, very well. Communicate with them often, listen to their challenges, find new ways to bring them value, and do whatever it takes to surpass their expectations for your business. You might just find they buy more from you. The kicker is impress your current customers enough and they will tell new people about you!
4. Finding & keeping good team members
The loss of even one person can cripple a small business because there are fewer team members to take on the workload. Depending on their small team to power their company, business owners often worry about losing good people because they’ve likely invested a lot of time and money in training them.
ACTION SUGGESTION: Investigate an employee training strategy and business culture strategies to help hire and keep the right fitting, good people.
5. Keeping Social and online
The growth of online shopping and social media has placed small businesses under enormous pressure. How can you not only manage your business, mentor your team, plan your growth and NOW you need to make posts EVERY DAY over a NUMBER of social media platforms! And not only that but you also need to keep your online store up-to-date and write regular blogs and EDM's, it's exhausting just thinking about it!
ACTION SUGGESTION: Investigate companies who you can outsource these roles to so you can stay focused on growing your business.
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