Once of the most common responses I get from business owners is about time –
“How do I get time to work on my marketing?”, “How do I find time to systemise my business?”, “I just don’t have time to think about my strategic plans!”
Thousands of books have been written on the subject of time management and most have good suggestions, tips and ideas.
But the simplest way to find out how successful people manage their time is to ‘model’ what they do. I have copied (modelled) my work habits around successful businesses people in my industry and these are ones that I have found to be the most successful:
1) Creating a daily to-do list with 3 top things to be done. Doing your best to complete those 3 tasks – usually by ‘blocking’ out time without interruptions (from staff, no phone calls, reading emails, etc). You are essentially making an appointment with yourself (or have your PA do this for you). Any uncompleted tasks are rolled over to the next day – and assessed again to see if they are really important.
2) Creating a 30-day to-do list. These are tasks to be completed this month – you pull your daily top 3 from here.
I like using a Google Doc (in the cloud) for my to-do list – that way I can view and edit it anywhere in the world.
3) Focusing on high leverage tasks (entrepreneurial), rather than on medium and low leverage tasks (employee level).
4) Delegating, training, systemising and giving staff the authority to make decisions on their own – so your business can run without you!
List of high leverage ‘Entrepreneurial’ business tasks
(this is where you should be spending most of your time)
- Developing and updating strategic plans and the future direction and the vision for the business
- Marketing planning and delegation of it’s implementation
- Developing business systems (admin, legal, IT, staff, service delivery, supply, marketing, sales, etc)
- Developing information material or products (every business whether wholesale, retail, service or professional services needs these)
- Product and service market research and keeping up with trends in your industry
- Working on business uniqueness
- Reviewing financials and ensuring a good return on investment
- Creating Joint Ventures and Strategic Alliances
- Sales of high value (e.g. with your ideal prospective client)
- Promoting the business – developing presentations and speaking at seminars, trade shows or networking
- Reviewing staff performance, feedback and suggestions and developing staff systems for your General Manager
- Organising customer research or reviewing customer feedback
- Meetings with your ‘Mastermind Group’ – peers in business
- Meetings with your mentor(s)
- Meeting with your ‘top’ staff – financial controller, marketing, sales and general managers (these many be shared roles in a small business)
- Delegation : Staff and outsourcing
The list of medium leverage business tasks
- Sales – that is, YOU personally making sales <$10,000 sales
- YOU supplying the services that the business sells (auto servicing, computer servicing, chiropractic care, financial planning, etc)
- YOU supplying products that the business sells (wholesale, retail)
YOUR time spent on the above tasks really isn’t that important for you as the business owner. Everyone has access to the same amount of hours in a day. Performing the above actions will limit your income.
Please note: Sales is crucial to a business – what I’m referring to is you spending a major portion of YOUR time conducting one-on-one sales for products and/or services under $10,000 (you can hire someone to do this for you).
The list of low leverage ‘Employee’ business tasks
Again – you don’t want to be doing these tasks yourself – you want to systemise and hire someone to do them for you.
- Bookkeeping and Accounting
- Data entry
- Payroll and staff entitlement records
- Following up outstanding payments (account receivables)
- Tax preparation
- Ordering stock
- Receiving and inventory of stock
- Stock rotation
- Staff admin
- Opening the mail
- Basic computer stuff
- Human Resources – Supervising and training staff (you should be working on staff systems instead)
- Answering the telephone
- And so on … you get the idea…
The four time management procedures (daily list, 30 day list, high leverage, delegating/systemising) are simple to understand and easy to follow. All it takes is a bit of self-discipline initially and then it will become routine.
If you have staff there may be some resistance to change as they may be used to ‘bugging you’ every time they have a problem – but, don’t ignore them – document their frequent questions and the answers – that way they can consult training or company procedures instead.
Soon you will quickly notice how much progress you have made ‘working on your business’ and not ‘in it’.