How to Avoid Uncertainty, Always Being on the Job, and Burnout – the Top 3 challenges of Small Business Owners

 

It’s not easy being a business owner. Overwork and burnout are two especially common problems with entrepreneurs, and it’s not hard to see why. 

One survey from New York Enterprise Report found that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees. It also found that 33% of small business owners reported working more than 50 hours per week, and 25% said they work more than 60 hours a week.

That’s hardly the only study reporting those kinds of hours, either. Gallup found that 39% of the owners they surveyed worked over 60 hours a week.

It’s not just about the hours.  Small business owners work more, sure. But they’re also under more pressure. This is true whether they have employees or not.

Hard work is an admirable trait, but work for the sake of work is a waste. There are ways to reduce your workload while still putting in the time and effort your business needs to succeed, and implementing these methods will preserve your physical and mental health in the long run. These are some of the ways in which you can reduce your workload and restore your personal time to a healthy level.

1) Delegate

Good business owners understand the value of hiring people smarter than themselves to do a job right. An excellent manager, a well-trained crew and a virtual assistant can do wonders for your bottom line. You can’t do it all yourself. So, don’t. 

Delegate tasks that are time-consuming, such as social media marketing, CRM management, newsletters, blogging and customer support services.  If you train your workers correctly, you won’t have to do the jobs of four different people.

2) Work smarter, not harder

The law of diminishing returns hits us especially hard. Don’t believe the hype when somebody brags of “working” 80 hours a week. If you were to follow them in their day-to-day life, you’d probably find that their productivity was exceedingly low, and that they were classifying a lot of non-work activities as work. If you are sitting at a desk but you’re not doing much, that means nothing. but if you find ways to squeeze more work in the time you have, you won’t have to put in as many hours to get things done. If you’re using old software, upgrade to something newer. If your store’s layout is inefficient, change it. If your business is drowning in paperwork, streamline it.

As an added note, the GDP per hour worked tends to have an inverse correlation with the number of hours worked overall. Put another way, countries in which people work more hours per year generally have lower levels of productivity. As an example, South Koreans work an average of about 2,100 hours a year and produce about 32 dollars of GDP per hour worked. The French work about 1,500 hours a year and produce twice that per hour worked. Smarter work means you don’t have to put in as many hours to produce the same number of goods and services.

3) Manage as much as you need, not as much as you want

A lot of new supervisors and managers run into this problem, but some business owners are this way as well. Your business is your baby – you want people to treat it with the same care and attention that you do! the problem is, some business owners don’t let a person do what it is that they hired them to do. If you believe that you made the right decision in hiring a person, back off and let them do your job. Not only will it be easier on you, but your team will not resent you as much. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep an eye on things, but if you are micromanaging your team on a daily basis, you screwed up somewhere. Whether you are being overly controlling or you didn’t hire the right people, the fault still comes back to you.

You’ll never be able to control everything all of the time. If you learn to let the small details go, you can focus in on the things that really matter.

Need help setting up a plan to leverage your time to maximize efficiency and profits?  Schedule a complimentary session with us!

 

 

 

10 Steps to Make Time Management Work for You

The right techniques make time management work.

In the quest for better time management, we have been flooded with a large variety of gizmos, tools, and programs invented to help us more effectively manage our time. These tools and programs make great claims, but most fail to help us achieve that ultimate “nirvana” of time management that we desire.

Of all the time management “stuff” out there, I’ve found a few simple techniques that consistently work well, if implemented properly.

Here are 10 steps that, if followed, will ensure time-management works for you:

1. Kick the Habit: Like many poor habits, poor time management is a behavior that has been developed over time and the first step in “kicking the habit” is to recognize that you have a problem and then to make a firm commitment to do something about it.

2. Effective Planning: Similar to other disciplines, effective time management is a discipline that can be learned and mastered over time. The key principle to effective time management is planning. It’s been shown that for every minute you spend in planning, ten minutes is saved in execution.

3. Plan Each Day in Advance: The first step is to plan each day in advance. Whether you use a day planner, PDA device or electronic calendar, find the tool that works best for you. Sit down each night and carefully plan out your next day. Ask yourself: “What is the most important use of my time?” and “Where do I bring the greatest value to my organization?”

4. Develop your Daily Plan by Ranking Tasks: with the key tasks that must be accomplished (based on the answers to the two questions above). Once you have listed these vital tasks, then rank them accordingly (usually the ABCD method works well).

Planning your day the night before has other benefits as well. One key benefit is that you will sleep better, as your conscious mind can rest (because you’ve written down what must be accomplished and don’t have to worry about remembering every task). Your subconscious mind can then go to work on these issues while you sleep.

5. Block Scheduling: Next, look at your day as blocks of time put together. We call this Block Scheduling. Start with ‘hour’ blocks, then as you get more practice and become more proficient at budgeting your time, you will look at 30-minute blocks of time.

6. Mark Your Calendar with these Blocks of Time: Some of the most effective time managers look at their days in 15-minute increments. Take the ranked tasks from your list and insert them into the blocks of time on your calendar, starting with the most important task first.

7. Determine what time in the day you will set aside for each task: Morning time is usually the best time to tackle your most difficult and highest priority tasks. As the day wears on and you wear down, you can then work on the other tasks requiring less mental effort. Now you’re ready to begin your day.

8. Prioritize & Focus to reach Completion: Jump right in and begin on the most important, highest value task immediately.

Focus single-mindedly on starting and finishing this task and do not deviate from your plan. One of the biggest enemies of time management is the practice of starting several tasks but never finishing any of them.

A great prompting question to always ask yourself is, “Is this the most important thing I should be doing right here, right now?” Another key to successful Block Scheduling is not getting “derailed” from your plan.  Learn to delegate routine and time consuming, but vital tasks.  Focus on what your best at and what brings you the most profit.  Yes, focus on what got you started in your business in the first place. 

9. Minimize Distractions:  Distractions like the phone, internet, email, co-workers, daydreaming, etc., can and will work to thwart your plan. Make the necessary arrangements to keep these distractions to a minimum.

10. Additional Tips: Finally, here are a few final suggestions:

* First, make sure you take the appropriate time to speak with employees and co-workers, as well as time for returning phone calls, emails, etc. The key is to do these tasks when they are scheduled (much easier said than done, of course).

* Schedule several breaks during the day  – take “5-minute vacations” where you can walk outside or around the office, stretch and clear your mind to recharge your mental batteries and allow yourself to get re-focused on your work.

I challenge you to start today by implementing these techniques. If you learn to do them and do them well, you’ll be able to use some of that new found time for some much needed personal and family enjoyment.