Everyone knows that running a small business is more than a full-time job. But why are small business owners so busy, and what can we do about it?
Do you ever ask yourself “Why did I set up my own Business”?
Was it because you wanted to be your own Boss? Did you initially think that you would get a better work life balance? Share with other readers what your reason was.
Any small business owner can tell you that it requires a lot of time, effort and dedication. We try to wear too many hats. In some cases, like my own situation, we are an entire business wrapped up in one person. We are marketing executives, Chief Finance Officers, Salesmen, Business Analysts, Administrators, Buyers, Technical Support, Customer Service Agents… and many more!
While you only have a few customers, that’s all that is needed. It can feel rewarding doing it all yourself with no one telling you when or where to be. As you get more customers, you may need to take on some staff or figure better ways of working. Finance and accounting are usually the first to go perhaps followed by marketing or other administration tasks. But you’re still wearing too many hats. In order to grow your business, you need to be working on your business more than working in it.
Small business owners are totally aware that there is more work to be done than hours in the day. While it’s great that small business owners are passionate about their work and enjoy feeling busy, we need to focus on being productive in the areas that create the most value over trying to do everything. We need to focus on strategy, developing new products or services and taking them to market. We need to identify where we can automate routine tasks, we need systems, or put another way a more organized way of getting things done.
Most small businesses don’t put systems in place because we don’t have the time to figure them out. We need to invest time to save time. The system doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t have to be a software system. I have implemented many systems that are simply a blue print of how to “do the job” in such a way, others can follow the process. A process like this would enable you to delegate to some-one so you can then get on with other things or if it’s only you, you’re reinventing the system every time you do a job, unless you define it. With a defined process you’ll get quicker each time, and more work will get done.
We also forget about how to manage people or perhaps we were never taught them other than learning by example. Managing people is all about delegating and motivating. If we don’t delegate responsibility to our team, they will be asking us to make every little decision. On the other extreme, if we give too much control then we’ll be disappointed when things are not being done to your standard, which will use more of our valuable time to correct. Your staff will either feel micro-managed or abandoned, and soon you will have a retention issue and the overhead of continually re-training. From not having the time to coach and mentor your employees to scheduling too many meetings and check-ins, your busy behaviour becomes a morale crusher. When you’re busy, your stress level goes up and your Team feels the impact which negatively affects the quality and productivity of their work.
Being busy and feeling you are never on top of things will cause stress, this is followed by lack of sleep, which will then effect fitness and wellness. you will start to overlook what differentiates your business from your competition and critical parts of your job risk falling through the cracks.
You have to work smarter, not harder and get help where you can. Seeking professional advice will prove to be the best investment you make. Remember what your time is worth. Management coaches will show you how to effectively work with your team. Process Improvement Specialists and Business Analysts can help you define your systems. An Accountant may have useful advice on how to improve your financial performance and will know all the tricks without you having to do hours of reading.