Small business owners have so many demands on their time from commitments to family and friends, the work they do at their business every day, plus strategically planning for business growth. All these pressures can feel overwhelming for any business owner! Identify which goals are most important to your success and implement some of these time management strategies and tools to accomplish your goals.
Why Time Management?
If your business is running low on cash, you have many opportunities to try to gain revenue or finance for additional working capital. However, your time is limited! We all know there are only so many hours in a day. By practicing good time management skills, you can maximize the use of your limited resources, better delegate to your employees, track progress towards your goals, increase your income, and reduce your stress.
Work Smarter, Not Harder – 5 Steps to a Time Management Plan
An effective time management plan must be in writing, contain a list of prioritized tasks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to meet your goals, and a plan to prioritize your tasks so you can tackle the most important tasks of your day. Using these techniques, you can focus on the most important tasks to help your business grow and be successful.
Step 1 – Clearly define Business goals
Ask yourself – where do you want to take your business? Who do you want to be? What do you want to have in your life?
Identify short term (quarterly), mid-term (one-year), and long-term goals (2-3 years) that will help you achieve the life you want to live. Take time to understand how your goals will help you reach success for your business. Most importantly, write them down so they are official!
Step 2 – Break down your goals into detailed list of tasks
Every goal will require multiple steps to complete. Break down each goal into a series of tasks that you can complete to work towards your goal. Task lists help you identify which resources are needed and how much time it will take to reach goals. Resources can be your time, your employees’ time, money, inventory, favors from friends, or any other limited resource in your personal and business spheres.
Step 3 – Prioritize the list of tasks
Look at how important each task is to the success of your goal. You will have tasks that are critical to success and tasks that would be nice to complete but probably aren’t vital to completing your goal. Also look at how long each task will take to complete so you can plan out your day without overbooking your time!
Under each goal, some tasks will be more important or more time critical than others. Try to complete the most important tasks first because they’ll have the greatest impact on your goals and your profit! At times, less important tasks may become urgent. Paying bills by their due date or other routine business functions can shift from low-impact to high-impact very quickly.
Step 4 – Make a list of important ongoing business functions
Some business owners are stronger at big-picture strategic thinking, and some are better at daily administrative tasks. Having a complete list of your routine business functions can help you make sure you’re keeping up with daily requirements to keep your business running.
Routine tasks might be checking and responding to emails and voicemail, managing and maintaining inventory, recruiting and managing employees, depositing funds at the bank, paying bills, or attending a networking function. All of these items are important to keep your business moving forward, even if they don’t directly feed into one of your high-priority growth goals.
Step 5 – Build in flexibility to your plan
Not everything will go according to your plan! You need to include unscheduled time in your day for tasks that run long and emergencies that might pop up. Know that you will also have interruptions in your day , whether that is a child, pet, or partner sharing your working space or any of the other daily distractions we experience. Budget extra time for your more critical tasks so you know you will have time to complete them.
Allow time for taking advantage of unplanned opportunities. You never know what opportunities might come up when running your business. If your schedule is too rigid, you may not be able to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or an easy way to boost your bottom line.
Bonus Step – reslient business managment
Lastly, set aside time for breaks so you don’t burn out! We all have a limited amount of time and energy we can expend before we can’t do any more. Your business depends on you every day, so make sure you have a plan to take care of yourself and fit in time for the breaks you need.
Get Support from northland sbdc
Looking for one on one help to identify SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) business goals? Connect with a Northland SBDC consultant who can help you work through goals that will have big impacts on your business. Sign up for no-cost consulting services today to be connected with a consultant who can help you reach your business goals.
Upcoming Training Opportunity
Want to learn more? Register for this upcoming training on Time Management for Small Businesses on November 10, 2020 at 6pm. This training is provided by the SBA at no cost for small businesses! Walk through examples of how to use these 5 steps to time management success in addition to learning about time management tools like the POSEC Method, the Eisenhower Method, the ABC Method, and Pareto Analysis.
Post by Vicki Hagberg, Small Business Consultant, Northland SBDC