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Time Management Tips For Small Business Owners
Most business owners probably already know that 20 percent of their products account for 80 percent of their sales. Save time in the long run by discovering exactly which products or services drive business. Focus most of your energy on important things and reduce the time you devote to the other 80 percent.
Learn to prioritize. Just as 20 percent of your product drives your business, some of your activities are more productive than others. It’s an old but good time management tip to tackle your most important projects first. Teach your employees this strategy so you all find time to complete important projects. Once you’ve ranked your activities in order of importance, give yourself a set amount of time to complete them. For example, set a time limit for returning phone calls and answering emails and try not to exceed it. Keeping some sort of schedule will help you stay focused on important projects instead of getting lost in day-to-day activities that don’t really move your business forward.
Make a “to-do list” every day. You might think that you don’t have time to write a list every morning. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that a small business owner faces every day. Last-minute interruptions and distractions can make the most focused business owner forget to complete a task. A short but thoughtfully prepared “to-do list” will remind you of what you need to do that day. This will prevent you from forgetting to call your important client. Don’t go beyond your day job when writing your list and set reasonable goals. Progress is great, but you can work on it when the list is complete.
In every business there comes a moment when the owner must learn to say “no”. Whether you’re dealing with a needy employee or a difficult client, diluting yourself too much is not good for your business. Yes, you have to make customers happy, but sometimes they will ask for the near impossible. Think about whether doing something is good for your business before you say yes, and learn to delegate.
It’s tempting for small business owners to waste time micromanaging any aspect of their business. However, there are tasks that do not require the presence of the owner. Teach employees to take action and make decisions within the boundaries of their positions. This is extremely difficult for a micromanager, but it gives you time and energy to focus on other activities that are more important, such as bringing in more customers. Should an employee call you about purchasing equipment? That. Should an employee call you because someone is two minutes late to work? Probably not. Creating parameters that define the scope of each employee’s decision-making authority will prevent the small business owner from having to put out smaller fires. Clear boundaries will also build employee morale. Frankly, people generally hate being micromanaged. You hired your employees for their talent, so why not put it to good use?
Communicate with your employees and be aware of your business deadlines. Small business owners are still in charge and need to communicate with their employees to make sure they are on the same page. Talk to them about deadlines every week and make sure they contact you with new developments. Stay connected with your clients and try to prevent any miscommunications that will affect late-game projects.
Be sure to take some time for yourself. This seems counterproductive. Many business executives and small business owners are guilty of confusing employment with productivity. However, people need time to rest and decompress. Numerous studies have shown that taking short breaks actually improves overall productivity. The brain is not wired to work non-stop. People who take breaks make fewer mistakes and work faster. Dr. Coker’s research explains that people who take short breaks online are nine percent more productive than their stressed-out counterparts. So relax for a moment for the good of society.
Stay focused on your goals. What do you want from your business? Take some time each month to examine your goals and how you are achieving them. See which strategies move you forward and identify which ones drag you back. This might sound easy, but many small business owners are so focused on day-to-day activities that they put off regularly examining their goals. However, constant evaluation can save you time and money as you discover which methods work for you.
It’s tempting to try to save money by doing everything at home. However, outsourcing is often more cost-effective than doing everything yourself. For example, the time you spend working as an accountant could be better spent following up with leads and building relationships. When 35 percent of small business owners complain that they don’t have time to really grow their business, it’s clear that small business owners are taking on too many mundane tasks.
Outsourcing specialized projects not only frees business owners to work more efficiently, but can also benefit a company’s image and profitability. For example, hiring a graphic designer to create a brochure is likely to yield better results than simply typing something into a Word document. If you really can’t afford to leave the project to a professional, look in-house. Chances are you have a multi-talented staff. Someone interested in graphic design might get a better job than you, and that individual might just be willing to work a little cheaper than a professional, for experience.
Staying busy doesn’t mean growing a business. Every business owner needs to evaluate their schedule. Yes, a responsible owner knows what is going on and will have to put in a lot of hours. But are the hours spent in the most productive way? How much time do you spend putting out fires and running around? Your time is precious and you must use it wisely to move forward. Some of the time management tips explained above may seem counterintuitive or expensive, but think about the loss your business faces when you can’t find time to spend with your customers. The owner of the company is the face of his company. People buy from owners they trust. But if the owner is never seen, how can customers get to know him? Making sales will likely more than make up for the $10 an hour you pay for the outsourcer. Learn to use your time wisely and grow your business while improving your quality of life.
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