Entrepreneurs wear every hat in the closet and are always pressed for time. It’s arguable that no matter how talented the entrepreneur or how brilliant the business model, success or failure boils down to time management. Here are a few ideas for taking control of the clock and preventing it from turning into a ticking time bomb for your business.
1. Be wary of perfectionism. Attention to detail is a good thing, up to a point. But when the urge to cross every “t” and dot every “i” keeps you from prospecting and other critical business-building work, your business may wind up being the tidiest enterprise in the cemetery.
2. Avoid the social media time suck. Social networking relieves the pressure of finding new business and struggling through tough projects – it’s a lot easier to chatter with peers than deal with ornery customers and suppliers. However, the customers pay the bills and the suppliers make or break the bottom line, and every minute away from them had better be for a good reason. Many entrepreneurs (myself included at one time) talk themselves into thinking that social networking has a compelling business benefit. All I can say is, do some serious soul-searching if you’re in that camp.
3. Outsource. Entrepreneurs are fond of saying that time is money. Why then, do so many of them invest thousands of dollars of their time working on tasks that a professional could handle for a few hundred in outsourcing fees? As a minor example, I’ve seen business owners spend days writing a piece of sales copy that a professional writer could knock out of the park in about an hour. This is bad enough, but when the same thing happens with business-critical functions such as accounting or IT, the results can be disastrous.
4. When in doubt, cut it out. If you’ve been going to a lead-sharing breakfast for a year and have nothing to show for it, why do you keep going? If you spend two hours a month creating a cost analysis spreadsheet that has given you no insights about your operation, why do you keep creating it? Business tasks take on a life of their own when business people stop asking: “Why?”
5. Take a break. In my experience, entrepreneurs who know how to relax make more efficient use of their time on the job. If you haven’t taken a vacation in two years, if you put in 60-hour weeks month after month, how can you possibly be at the top of your game? An entrepreneur with fresh mind and body accomplishes more in an hour than an exhausted business owner accomplishes in a day.
And by the way, if you exercise for 30 minutes every day or two, you will probably notice a big difference in productivity.
Over to You
How do you make the most of your time at work? What productivity tips can you share with entrepreneurs who don’t have enough time in the day?
Brad Shorr is the Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. With many years of entrepreneurial experience, he writes frequently on business strategy and content marketing topics.