It goes without saying that time is a precious commodity for every professional, but this is especially the case for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Limited access to staff and corporate resources combined with packed schedules often mean that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get absolutely everything done. How do other independent businesspeople do it while also managing to keep their sanity intact?
The secret to their success is simple, actually. It’s all about time management – learning how to take the same limited 24 hours that everyone has to work with and really make them count in a big way. Let’s take a closer look at how you can make this simple but powerful concept work for your small business.
1. Define and understand your goals.
The first order of business as a small business owner is to clearly define and outline your goals. Focus your energies on activities and pursuits directly related to the accomplishment of these goals. For most small business owners, the main concerns are going to be making money and helping the business to grow and evolve toward the future. Anything else has the potential to turn into a time waster on one level or another.
2. Learn how to prioritize.
Every successful business owner needs to learn how to assign priorities to tasks to make sure the truly urgent stuff is taken care of right away. Start each day by creating a task list that organizes each item on your to-do list according to how important (and how urgent) it is. Consider delegating some of the lower priority items to other individuals on your staff if possible. This will leave you with more time and energy to devote to the items that can only be completed by you.
3. Nix the distractions.
It’s next to impossible to be as productive as you need to be if you’re dealing with constant interruptions and endless distractions. Consider closing your office door or setting up certain hours during the day when calls are allowed to go directly to voicemail to maximize your time when it really counts the most.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re not creating your own distractions. Don’t let notorious time sucks like social media or text messages rob you of your precious time. Instead, make a deal with yourself that you’ll catch up with those things during designated break periods only.
4. Leverage the manpower around you.
People go into business for themselves because they’re independent self-starters that don’t shy away from a little hard work. However, it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between taking an active role in running your own company and doing way too much. Part of building a successful business is surrounding yourself with talented, reliable employees that can handle some of your day-to-day tasks on your behalf. Make sure you’re leveraging your workforce as much as you should be.
5. Learn that it’s OK to say “no”.
While it sure would be nice if it were possible to keep everyone happy 100% of the time, that’s simply not reality when you’re a small business owner. Give yourself permission to say “no” to projects, partnerships, or tasks that aren’t serving the interests of your business. You’re perfectly within your rights to define your own priorities as far as your end goals. That’s part of what being the boss is all about.
At the end of the day, successful time management is about planning ahead, defining boundaries, and setting priorities. Look for ways you can apply what you’ve learned to the daily workings of your business today!