There are even stories of business owners that burn the midnight oil the first few years in business. These stories illustrate a core problem in the small business world, and that problem isn’t work ethic it’s time management. Many of you reading this article may know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve been in that seat where business demands you stay up late, miss doctor’s appointments, miss dinner with family, miss your kid’s activities and special moments. Our defense is that the business requires our full attention. However, not all businesses are equal when it comes to how we dedicate our time. Therefore most of us must take careful consideration when planning. In the end, our loved ones suffer and sacrifice just as much or if not more than we do. There is, however, a way to alleviate the pressure of time on us as business owners. The best tool you can use is a well thought out and executed plan.
First, identify your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner. You may be wearing more than one hat in your business. You’re the salesperson, website designer, social media manager, custodian, etc. Most decisions that are put off by us are because we do not have the knowledge or skills to act on them. This highlights one of the key components of managing a business, and that is utilizing a network of professional advisors to help you make the right decisions. Having trouble understanding your financials? Hire a bookkeeper or consult with a CPA or you can make an appointment with a Business Advisor at the SBDC. Any of those options are great but don’t take it on all by yourself and risk making a bad decision.
Second, once you’ve identified where you need help you will need to create a plan. The best way to go about this is to start at the annual plan level. Identify the key drivers and components of your business. Tasks and actions that need to get done will include operations, marketing, employee hiring/management, and finances. Here is the key to managing your time, in this plan add “personal or family time”. The reason this item is left out is that we feel that spending time with family is a luxury or even a byproduct of our success, “I’ll finally be able to spend time with my family when I’m successful”. We are entrepreneurs, we don’t have a definition of success because we are always chasing it and we wouldn’t know once we had it. Basically, make time with family part of your plan.
Break this plan down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and finally daily agendas. You will begin to see the areas you are unable to handle alone will require hiring an employee or better yet you will see that there are areas where you’ve been spending an unnecessary amount of time, this is a “time expense” and you can cut it out. The goal is to have a profit of time that allows you to live a normal daily schedule.
“Business Tips” was written by Alejandro Castañon, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at Alejandro.Castanon@angelo.edu.