Three Strategies to Effectively Manage Your Time as a Small Business Owner
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Not enough time. I have been there. Heck, when am I *not* there?! As a fellow small business owner, the conundrum of having a mile-long task list that far outpaces the finite attention that can be devoted to my business is well known. This said, while my goals and dreams will likely always exceed my ability to complete them, over time, I have developed strategies to more efficiently use my time and better serve my Team and the Spread Your Sunshine community. Read on to learn more about these top tips that will hopefully be effective for you and your business, too.
Efficiently Lead & Communicate with Your Team
As a small business owner, I often struggle with delegating tasks and then also finding time to manage such projects and review the completed work. Some days I totally rock at this, providing the feedback needed to move projects forward. Other days, I am practically unreachable, under a deadline to finish my own work or so focused on same that the idea of breaking my concentration for an unrelated conversation is unfathomable. While team management will likely always be a challenge, the following strategies have helped me better lead and support the Spread Your Sunshine Team:
- Utilize Cloud- or App-Based Task Lists: Each Spread Your Sunshine Team Member has a cloud-based task list that can be accessed by every other Team member and updated in real time. This allows all Team members to know the status of all tasks at all times, which is essential when Team members work on interrelated projects or a different Team member assumes a task in the middle of a project. Such lists also allow status updates and feedback to be provided at any time, which is critical when Team members are working different schedules. For example, I often review these lists at night or early in the morning so that Team members have the feedback needed before the start of their next shift. Similarly, they update the lists with their progress throughout the day so that I know what was accomplished even if we did not connect and I review the lists after hours. While Spread Your Sunshine likes the simplicity of keeping its lists in documents in Office 365’s SharePoint cloud system, apps like Slack and Trello offer more tech-savvy solutions for team communications.
- Schedule Team Conferences: Establishing a set time, be it daily, weekly, or some other period, to talk to one or more key Team members can also streamline communications while providing more effective leadership. Personally, I usually communicate with Spread Your Sunshine’s Chief Administrator at the start of each workday. This daily call allows us to collaborate on the priorities for each day and is a time that we discuss questions that do not require an immediate answer instead of repeatedly interrupting each other outside of such calls. The Chief Administrator can then also act as a clearing house for the rest of the Team and so that I remain focused on the day’s agenda.
- Match Tasks to Your Team’s Strengths: When a task becomes cumbersome to manage, oftentimes, it is realized that it was assigned to the wrong Team member. Whether they are uninterested in the assignment, do not have the time or skill set to complete it, or otherwise, the value of delegating the project is diminished by the duplicate time I have to invest in it. At that point, I evaluate whether the Team member adds value to other types of projects (and if there are enough of them to keep the Team member busy) or if the Team member can be counseled or trained to improve their performance on the type of work originally assigned. Whatever the corrective action to be taken, having a private meeting room to conduct such conversation confidentially is critical. Whether you share co-working space or have a private office, create an area that is cut off from the rest of the Team to have such discussions.
- Say Goodbye to Perfection: Sometimes good is good enough. Not every project deserves your attention, or if it does, very much of it. You are a human being with a finite twenty-four hours in each day. If you insist on reviewing and perfecting every project, your business will be incapable of scaling and growth. Decide which projects are worthy of your brainpower, focus on those, and empower your Team to complete the rest without your further involvement. More about this concept can be found in our previous Dream Beyond Perfection! article.
- Limit Your Projects: I have a bad habit of wanting *every* idea I have accomplished *right now*, another culprit that delays my project management. When too many projects are on my desk for review, it is often a sign that I have tasked our Team with trying to tackle too many projects at once instead of executing a handful of projects well and to completion. When this imbalance arises, I take a deep breath, prioritize the projects to tackle first, and shelve the rest for a later date when they can be given the time and attention they deserve without taxing our Team.
Invest in Technology
I previously worked for an organization that failed to invest in technology. As a result, the office I was tasked with leading lost hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars of profit over a two-year period. Finally, the organization finished upgrading its outdated systems. By then, however, my office was negatively impacted beyond the bottom line; morale, reputation, client relationships and more all suffered due to the inability to efficiently work over such a prolonged period. For me, this experience crystallized the integral role that technology plays in the success of your business. If you want to avoid issues like the ones I experienced and set-up a network infrastructure with servers, routers, phone systems, databases, cyber-security and more to work most effectively, speak with a specialist company like eSudo Technology Solutions, Inc who has a long history in this field. They offer IT consulting services so you can design an infrastructure that is affordable, efficient and modern. They also offer cloud solutions so you can access to your data anywhere in the world, including a range of migration services for Office 365 users.
Outsource Business Services
A final way that I have inefficiently used my time as a small business owner is personally working on tasks that I should have outsourced to a professional. In the end, I spent more time and money than I would have had I just hired someone with the skill set to complete the job. This mistake was initially made trying to personally distribute payroll, calculate sales taxes, track finances, photograph product collections, build our website, and more. While no company can afford unnecessary and burdensome overhead, it is smart business to determine when third-party expertise is needed and saves more time and money than it costs.
Final Thoughts for Rocking Your Small Business Owner Role
Hopefully the forgoing ideas are helpful to you as you determine how you can most effectively lead your Team and operate your company. Additional articles on our Blog, such as Successful Entrepreneurial Ventures & Career Pivots and Effectively Leading Your Remote Team, may also provide additional insight.
And, do YOU have additional tips that will help the SYS community?! We’re sure you do, so please share your advice by emailing Melanie at firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging Spread Your Sunshine on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together we are strongest.
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