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Think Differently About How You Use Your Time
Getting things done continues to be an overwhelming challenge for most small business owners. Sometimes, the list of tasks seems to be beyond attainable and appears to have no end! It’s not that these things don’t have merit or that someone important is asking you for them, it’s just that there’s not enough time in the day- right?
Tradition Time Management Can be Detrimental to a Small Business Owner
Time management approaches have been sout after by small business owners for decades. The whole industry reached a ground swell about 20 years ago with the advent of the Franklin planner, the Day Timer and a while host of other systems to capture the focus (and investment) of busines people everywhere.
Unfortuneately, none of these systems really changed the small business owner’s ability to make better use of the time they have or get better results from the businesses they own. Why… because time management as a concept is an illusion! You only have so much time and it cannot be managed like others things because you can’t stop it, reserve it or allocate it to someone else. It’s the most valuable resource you have and you can’t replace what you lose or make more if you waste it.
What does work is the concept of knowing what you need to spend time on that produces the greatest return in your business. Get really clear about what you should be doing to drive revenue, attract more of your best clients and let others do the things that are not your best fit. Let me explain-
Joseph M. Juran was on to something
There’s a universal concept called the Pareto Principle. You may know it as the 80/20 rule. It was first introduced into business by business management expert- Joseph M. Juran and named after Vilfredo Pareto. Simply put, 80% of all activity, results, accomplishments, etc come from 20% of the source.
If you belong to a networking group, chances are that 80% of the work is being done by 20% of the members. In the retail grocery business, 80% of a store’s volume comes from 20% of the item selection. And, in most businesses, 80% of your revenues come from 20% of your clients. Likewise, 80% of your profits come from 20% of your product or service offerings.
Juran observed that Vilfredo Perato’s principle had application in the business world as well. In just about all business situations, you can apply this principle. It’s as dependable as gravity! But what does it mean for using your time better?
It’s About Focusing on Results
In most traditional time management systems, much of the focus goes to managing your schedule. Although priority is given to tasks, the main priciple involves getting more done in a given day or week. Unless the business owner has objectively assessed where their revenue, clients and profits come from, there’s no asurance that the things you schedule are the right things for you to be engaged in. As an example, if book keeping is a low prioity task and something you are not good at, why even spend time on it. The best thing you could do is outsource it.
Look at your business and using the Pareto Principle, write down the activities that will produce 80% of the results that grow your bsuiness. If you missed ‘sales and marketing’, you should rethink your business approach. Sales and marketing are the only activities that generate revenue. Everything else (although important to some degree) is an expense. And when it comes to generating the needed sales and revenue, who will be more committed to acheiving this than you- the owner of the business.
Separate the Important from the Minutia
To get a quick handle on this issue, go back and look at your schedule for the last 2 weeks. If you have no schedule, the problem is obvious. If your schedule has only appointments with other people and there’s lots of open space, it also reveals a lack of focus on the important areas. Now, you might say, “I don’t use my calendar for everything I do”. Herein lies the problem. Read on.
Look at all the things you spent time on and the time you spent and create a list with 2 columns; one for important activities like sales, marketing, management, client visits, etc and the other column for evrything else. You’ll quickly see where most of your time goes and why you may not be getting what you want from your business.
If your calendar is not detailed enough for this exercise, spend the next 2 weeks writing down everything you do in 15 minute increments. It sounds tedious, but the learning you’ll get will be a major game changer!
Take Control of The Growth Aspects of Your Buisness
Once you figure out where you spend your time, think about the things you should be focused on to acheive growth in your business. Things like evaluating who your ideal clients are and where they can found; who your best referral partners might be; what networking groups or events you need to attend; developing a compelling referral program for your current clients or creating an ad campaign that drives more traffic to your website. All of these activities lead to reveneue generation and deserve time on your calendar.
If you have employees, think about how to give them direction and let them perform with scheduled check in meetings to monitor performance. Look at things in your bsuiness that others could do (inside or outside your business) and get them off your desk. Ask yourself this question everytime you are faced with doing a task. “Who else could do this?” (and if no one knows how) follow up with “who can I train to do this?”
Whatever type of business you are involved in (solo-preneur, partnership, management, multi-divisonal organization, etc. this approach to using your time to get the most important things done is a ‘life changer’ in terms of how you look at your business the goals you want to reach.
In the end, you’ll be much happier and feel the power of getting vitaul, growth related initiatives accomplished that produce more revenue, good clients and profits for your business.
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