You couldn’t wait to start your small business. From the inception of the idea to writing the business plan, finding the ideal location and hiring employees, and then finally hanging the ‘open for business’ sign, there were days you thought you’d never see it happen. Then, at last, every item was crossed off that list and you were ready to go. And that was when the real work started. The real work of effectively managing your time.

Running a small business is big deal. Like having a baby big deal.

It’s not for the faint of heart. Among the many duties of running a small business are:

  • Managing finances
  • Handling legal issues
  • Dealing with customers
  • Creating marketing and advertising campaigns
  • Supervising employees
  • Monitoring inventory
  • Overseeing tech support

With such a wealth of responsibilities, it’s important that you effectively manage your time. Well, it’s only important if you want your business to keep running. If you’d rather it come crashing down like a towering inferno, then you may want to commit to these principles of poor time management:

POOR TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE #1:

Have Absolutely No Concept of How You’re Allotting Your Time Each Day

If willing your small business right into non-existence is your goal, you’ll want to do this. BUT, if you’d rather see it survive, you could carry a schedule for just one week and record your thoughts, conversations, and doings for each day of that week. Then look it over and ask yourself:

How much of your time is reserved for producing results for your small business?

How much is spent on epic time sucks such as watching dogs wrestling lizards videos or staring at your cuticles? (Of course, the latter doesn’t apply if you’re running a nail salon.)

The results can be telling. Maybe even a little disconcerting. But remember that you’re not doing this to shame yourself. Rather you’re trying to find more effective ways to manage your time and keep your small business thriving.

Take note of all activities or conversations that contributed to the success of your business that week.

Once you’re aware of these, be sure to assign them time each week. Ideally, you should be spending about 50% of your time engaged in these activities and conversations. Get an appointment book and start making appointments with yourself. Create time blocks for these high-priority activities and conversations and KEEP the appointments. (And if you have to cancel within 24 hours, make a commitment to charge yourself.)

Another factor to consider is how much of the time in those important hours is spent engaging in things that could be better performed by technology? There’s a rise in business automation and high technology tools you can leverage to drive your small business growth and save time doing so.

POOR TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE #2:

Try to Be the “Cool” Small Business Owner You See in Hollywood Films

You know this character. He parties with the staff every weekend because he’s best friends with his employees. Or she gives her employees anything and everything they request. These are great reasons to start your own business if you’re completely unfettered by reality.

If you’re insistent on being the “ever cool and available” business owner, spending hours a day answering every phone call, every email, and addressing every employee issue, you may well be heading for the “no longer being a” business owner. It’s an inefficient use of time.

As a successful business owner, you are not required by proxy to be cold or out of touch.

BUT, you do need to be selective about when you interact with the staff and when you get back down to the brass tacks of running your small business. That’s why it’s helpful to schedule time for interruptions. Do as a college professor does and set up “office hours” – times when you are available for being interrupted.

On the other side of that coin – commit to the complete disconnect when all of your focus is required for something vital to the livelihood of your business. Do not answer the phone just because it’s ringing. Ignore those e-mails, they’ll still be there later. And by all means, don’t cave and give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate response. Finally, don’t be afraid to put out the Do Not Disturb sign.

You’re allowed.

It’s safe to say that your employees will have more respect for you if they continue to be your employees rather than unemployed.

POOR TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE #3:

Shoot from the Hip and Just Trust in the Universe, Man

This mentality is awesome. If you’re going to a Grateful Dead concert. BUT it’s not a good mantra if you’re trying to manage your time while running a small business. As the owner of said business, you’ll save time in the long run if you take the time now to stay on top of things and have a plan.

Staying “in the know” is especially important when it comes to remaining compliant with laws or codes that apply to your business.

See, if you’re opting to trust in the universe rather than take the extra time to keep up with changes in labor laws, for example, then you may be making mistakes that are prohibited by federal law. You’ll be spending a whole lot of time in court that could be better spent – both financially and emotionally – on your business.

And not taking the time to stay abreast of health codes could have even more dire consequences.

Furthermore, if you take this laissez-faire attitude when it comes to connecting with your customers and clients, you’ll be spending a lot of time on pointless communication.

Rather than just getting on the phone or stepping up to the client and seeing where the cards fall (52 pick up, anyone?), decide instead what the objective of the call or meeting is and work in that specific direction to reach your objective. And if you don’t manage to reach that objective, take a few minutes after the encounter to ask yourself:

What was missing?

 How will I do it differently next time?

 Then next time, do it that way.

 POOR TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE #4:

Declare the Rest of the World Inept and Do Everything Yourself

 And why not? I mean, managing time while running a small business can’t be that hard, can it? Let’s just take a quick review of that list again.

  • Managing finances
  • Handling legal issues
  • Dealing with customers
  • Creating marketing and advertising campaigns
  • Supervising employees
  • Monitoring inventory
  • Overseeing tech support

Child’s play. If the child is a tireless prodigal droid.

BUT since you likely don’t have one of those charging in the corner with your phone, then it may be time to get some assistance.

Outsourcing is not an indictment of your ability to effectively manage your small business. If anything, it is proof of your commitment to it

 Here’s the thing.

Something like 20 percent of your business-related thoughts, conversations, and activities produce 80 percent of your results. It seems like a poor return on investment, but for most small business owners it’s reality.

Another reality is the amount of time small business owners have to deal with administrative and non-revenue-generating tasks. When you invest in getting assistance with some of these, then you can devote your time to more pressing concerns.

First, check into some of those aforementioned business technology tools.

For instance, the simple act of purchasing employee scheduling software can save you time by letting you create and schedule your next work schedule in minutes with an online schedule maker. There are countless other apps available to save you time. And money.

Then, take pause and consider if you need help from an expert. A human expert.

 For example, a bookkeeper can handle payroll, data entry, and other tasks, while an accountant can advise you on the big-picture financial stuff.

If you run a service-oriented business, the you may want to hire a customer service representative to provide excellent customer service.

It’s always a good idea to keep a lawyer on standby to help you through legal matters when they surface. And they will.

And if you don’t own a tech company (or maybe even if you do), tech support is best left to the experts who know the inner workings of your operations.

There are many others out there to help you in the nurturing and caring for your small business so you can more effectively manage your time.

Then again, if you’re bent on destruction, go ahead and keep on whittling your time away attempting to be the super cool business owner who can do it all. Then just trust in the universe, man. Let us know how that works out for you.