Small Business Financial Article
Rich Best has spent 28 years in the financial services industry, as an advisor, a managing partner, directors of training and marketing, and now as a consultant to the industry. Rich has written extensively on a broad range of personal finance topics and is published on several top financial sites. Recent books include The American Family Survival Bible and Annuity Facts Revealed: What You MUST Know Before You Invest.

You Can Manage Your Business, But Can You Manage Your Time?

You Can Manage Your Business, But Can You Manage Your Time?

As a business owner, you need to be able to manage people, the finances, the sales, and all of the responsibilities of the business, but when you are done with all of that, it’s your time that typically goes unmanaged. Most business consultants would agree that if you’re not in control of your time, then you are probably not in complete control of your business. In fact, under these circumstances, the business may be controlling you, which is not conducive to sustained business growth.

We’ve all learned time management skills at one time during our business lives, however, their application in asmall business setting are tested well beyond the capacity of most people. Time management needs to be more thanapplying a skill or developing a habit; it needs to be tactical, with a true business objective, detailed actionsteps, tracking, accountability and evaluation.

Assess your Strength and Weaknesses.Effective time management begins with a complete understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. A timemanagement plan needs to capitalize on your strengths, which may include certain management functions, businessdevelopment, strategy or other operational aspects of the business. Weaknesses might include delegation,prioritization, financial management, and administrative details.

Prioritize Your Business Functions. Compile a complete list of the functions that are performed in the business, broken down by frequency - daily, weekly, etc. Then sort these functions by their priority beginning with essential functions and non-essential functions. Essential functions are those that can only be performed by you or a key person in the business. Non-essential functions can be performed by any person given the proper training.

Align Essential Functions with Your Strengths and Opportunities. As the business leader, your time must be spent exclusively with essential functions. Ideally, you will only undertake functions for which you are strongly suited or are keys to business opportunities. Then list those essential functions for which you have little propensity to do well. The problem for business owners is that they might spend an inordinate amount of time on these functions and that is a major time eater. It may be time to think about outsourcing some functions.

Color Coordinate Your Calendar. Map out your business week with all functions, essential and non-essential. Then apply a color code of green, yellow and red to the functions. Functions that generate revenue are coded green. Functions don’t directly result in revenue but are important in advancing business goals are coded yellow. Functions that neither generate revenue nor advance key business goals are coded red. Most non-essential functions should be coded red.

Delegate all non-essential functions. A business owner should not be working in the red, only in the green and sometimes in the yellow. While this may be easier said than done, the number one time killer for business owners is any time that is spent on non-essential functions. Most of these can be performed by a part-time employee or a virtual assistant. If it takes some time and expense to train someone to perform the function, the investment will pay off quickly and with big returns when your time is freed up for green and yellow activities.

If you have any key employees, they also need to work in the green or yellow and not red activities.

Outsource Your Weaknesses. Trying to perform essential functions that are not your strength could actually hurt your business. They can cost you and your business time and money especially if they take more time to perform or they are performed inadequately. Functions such as marketing, business development, legal, financial, human resources, are all essential; however, they can also be performed on an outsourced basis. And, because contracted individuals are paid for performance, or on retainer, the business will ultimately save money.

Time management for business owners is not about habits or skills. It’s about taking a tactical approach to organizing, prioritizing and delegating business functions that result in the business owner having the time to work on the business, not just in the business.

Read Other Small Business Financial Articles