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When you run your own small business, you work on average at least 20 hours more than the paid employee who works a designated shift five days a week and calls it quits.
That’s understandable, you believe, because you have so much to do. The responsibilities are all on your shoulders and your actions and decisions determine whether you survive or fold. Some even wear it as a misplaced badge of honour that you work more hours than anyone else.
The issue you may be unaware of is whether your time invested is actually being used to grow your business.
Specifically, do you designate the difference between working “in” your business or “on” your business?
If time spent working “in” your business is growing and crowding out “family” time, “social” time, and “self” time, you must train others and delegate some of the work to them.
If time spent working “on” your business is almost non-existent, then you need to find time every day to rectify that because your business just won’t survive if you don’t…or at the very best case scenario will not grow and flourish.
Here’s a sobering thought, better known as a reality check. ☺
If every day you aren’t setting some time aside to work “on” your business, you are not going to make it the success you deserve.
I have always recommended a ratio of 70 % of time “in” the business and “30 % “on” the business. Anything less and you will grow to a certain level and then stagnate. Ultimately you will watch your piece of the pie get smaller and smaller as those who are working “on” their businesses encroach into your market.
Working “on” your business means ensuring your sales funnel is constantly full and the transfer from lead to sale is high. It means taking time to prepare impressive bids for projects that will sustain your firm over the long-term. It means being seen and networking and staying out in the world your clients frequent so you are not forgotten or overlooked. It means continually courting your clients, never taking them for granted.
It also means taking time to watch what your competitors are doing, staying on top of what your customers are saying, and being aware of trends in your industry. It means ensuring that your technology is efficient and meets your needs today and into the future, that you have the best people on your team and they are supported, and that you manage your growth expectations.
But how do you find the time to do all that when what you really want to do is go to your office, close the door, do your work and have everyone leave you alone? You feel like you don’t have time for bid-writing, propping up your social media efforts, or anything else right now.
Here are eight ways to find that time. Think of every minute you can carve out to work “on” your business as a crucial deposit into an account that pays huge compound interest.
- Make yourself the first client every day. Don’t make the mistake of handling all of your clients’ needs first and then, if there is time left at the end of the day, turning to your business growth needs. You are exhausted at the end of the day and your best brain power has all been used to help other people grow their businesses. Even if you have to go in an hour earlier, turn that first hour of every day into time for growth, proposals, analysis and trend-watching. Then incorporate your insight gained into your day’s agenda.
- Find people you trust to help you. Many of the people I have worked with are one-person businesses. They have to do it all. So when I suggest that they get someone to help them, they respond with all the excuses that they don’t have time, their clients only want to work with them (often true), and they can’t afford to pay another salary. The thing is, getting help to free up your time doesn’t necessarily mean adding another person to your business or even spending a lot more money. It could be as simple as hiring a cleaning service for your home or ordering groceries on line so they are ready instead of spending an hour selecting them yourself. One of my clients employed his teen-age son five hours a week to format his newsletter and arrange his social media postings for the next week. Both were delighted with the arrangement. It is equally important to find mentors or mastermind groups that can coach you through new challenges and help you to move your business forward.
- Makes lists to get the clutter out of your head: – If you try to remember everything, you will be carrying around more mental clutter than you need. Keep good lists, refer to them often, and update them twice a day and always review them at the end of each day. There are many great tools that can help with this with ToDoist being a particular favourite of mine that I have used for the last several years.
- Limit your daily priorities to three: – There is one trait I notice with clients who say they have no time to work on their business. Their priority list daily has more than 10 items on it. You cannot accomplish 10 “priorities” a day. Make it three maximum. Everything else has to find another day, be accomplished as a group of tasks within one hour, or dismissed. No exceptions. There are two great books available that can help you with prioritizing. First, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy and The One Thing by Gary Keller. I highly recommend both to every entrepreneur.
- Learn to delegate and discard: – If your list is regularly more than 10 items, you will find yourself transferring items endlessly from one day to the next. Instead, look at your list again and take one item to delegate. It doesn’t matter if it is a work or home item, move it off to someone else to do. Then take one item and discard it. There’s always one item that really isn’t nearly as essential as finding time to grow your business is.
- Schedule fewer meetings: – There is a time for meeting a client face to face and that is when you are first assessing their needs and determining if you can help them. Once you start working on their project, stem their need to meet you in person by sending at least two succinct and pleasant status reports each week. Clients like to know their project is top of mind with you, but you don’t have to meet endlessly or you will waste a lot of time. One thing that has helped me when it comes to reducing time spent in meetings was to simply change the duration of the meeting. Schedule those 30 minute meetings for 20 and those one hour meetings for 45 minutes. You will be surprised how much time this saves you over the course of a few months.
- Get sufficient sleep: – It is okay to cram extra work into the hours of your day, but it only works if your energy is high and your mind is operating at full capacity. You need between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. Ensure that you get it, no matter what.
- Align your agenda to your goals: – At noon each day, ask yourself: “What one step did I take to advance my business today?” Do it at noon rather than at day’s end because if the answer is “nothing,” then you still have time to rectify the situation. ☺
Every successful entrepreneur must learn that working “on” the business is much more important that working “in” it. It is not easy to come to this realization, but only you can make the change to your schedule.
Thank you for reading. Until next time. Take care.
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