26 Oct Four Ways Business Owners SHOULD Be Spending Their Time
As a small business owner, there is a constant battle going on for your time and attention.
There are immediate needs and long term goals; outside vendors and customers and your team; networking and business relationship development….not to mention your family and your personal life! While we may be able to figure out how to make more money, make more connections and find smart people to hire, the one leveling ground for every entrepreneur is time. No one has the power to make more time!
Do you find yourself in the all too recognizable place of feeling constantly fragmented, accomplishing a lot of partial tasks and giving a lot of people a tiny bit of your attention? If so, you are most likely struggling to gain solid forward momentum. You probably don’t have time to plan. And most of all, you almost certainly are maxed out and not running at your full potential in any of your roles or responsibilities.
The good news? This is a hamster wheel you can get off of! Learning exactly where to spend your time can provide you the traction you need to launch forward into planned and purposeful growth!
We spent some time talking to Adam Slack, founder of Two Roads and co-founder of Atrio, a company offering operational and financial systems solutions to small businesses. He specializes in deep systems analysis, evaluating strengths and weaknesses of a company. He then partners with them to build a stronger architectural business structure.
Here are the four things Adam recommends you should spend your time on:
- Developing Your People
You can never spend enough time talking to your team.
This sounds easier than it is, especially if you have a remote workforce. A strong company culture and deep sense of loyalty will be the backbone of your company and the biggest payoff of your time investment.
If you have a solid team built on trust with a firm grasp of your company vision, it is much easier to entrust the business to them. Moreover, your employees will deliver a strong customer experience, which always yields dividends in more business.
- Creating a Financial Buffer
Successful companies always know how much runway they have.
The next most important thing to use your time on is building a margin of safety for your business. This requires making sure you have accurate and up-to-date financials. Analyze your expenses (fixed and variable) compared to your sales, and have a firm grasp on your break-even point and your operational costs. This gives you a cushion for slower months, enough cash or credit to handle potential crises, and keeps you from operating out of reactions and stress. This doesn’t happen overnight. However, with an investment of time into analyzing and budgeting, this CAN happen.
- Scheduling Room for Unpredictables
Time is the great equalizer. Unlike money, you can not create more so you MUST schedule what you have wisely, including leaving yourself a margin of time for the unexpected.
If you fill every hour, you’ll lose. As the business owner, you are responsible for oversight, direction, problem-solving, crisis management and so much more. If you don’t have a cushion of time, just as crucial as a financial margin, you will go under when the storms come.
Keep 40% of your time unscheduled each week. This may sound impossible but remember that time you invested into your team? This is where that becomes crucial. Delegate tasks or outsource pieces that bog you down. You need a margin to lead.
- Learning Your Industry Trends
Lastly, understand your industry standards and your own financial trends. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum so you must consider the time commitment, not just the financial and business value of this idea.
You need to see a trailing 12 month set of financials to get the best picture. This requires you take the time each month to keep your books up-to-date or outsource this task to a trusted professional. Study the key performance indicators in your area of business and compare to your own financials. Identifying the problem areas and the strengths are just the first step. Take the time to decide where you want your business to go and come up with actionable steps for your trusted team to implement in order for this knowledge to drive your business to the next level.
Spending your time on these four key areas will push you out of the fragmented, one man fire brigade and into the CEO position where you should be.
Give yourself time to transition and set yourself clear goals to get there. Each of these four ideas require the same things. Analysis, planning and action! The first two of those three things require time that no one else on your team can give. If you devote your time to the analysis and planning and you pull your team into the actionable steps, you will maximize your potential and your team’s to build a structure with massive growth potential.