When I told a friend back in 2012 that I was quitting my day job to focus on building my own business, he gave me this advice:
“Every day, when you get up, you have to ask yourself:
‘What am I going to kill today?'”
Seems like a pretty bloody way to start a new life, but I got his point — you always have to be hunting for business. And one of the best ways to do that is to have mad time management skills — with a twist.
Time management tips for business owners
As I mentioned in an earlier blog article, the first way to get a grip on time management is goal management. This is especially important for business owners — it’s also known as a “business plan.”
Some questions to answer:
- Where do you want to be in three months, six months, a year, three years, five years down the road?
- How much revenue do you want to bring in?
- Where do you want your business to be located?
- What investments will you need to make to get there?
- How many people will you have to hire to achieve your goals?
You have to know your destination before you can start traveling. Otherwise you’re wasting your valuable time…and money.
From there, take your SMART goals and break them down into action steps that you take by the month, the week and the day.
Prioritize your to-do list
It’s not enough to have a to-do list. Merrily checking things off because it makes you feel better doesn’t get you where you want to go. All it does is make you feel better about doing nothing.
Your list must be prioritized, based on the goals you’ve set for your business. And those priorities should be based on one of two things: Making money or saving money.
Your primary focus should be on bringing in the money you’re owed. Have you billed all your clients for the month? If not, do it. Have they paid within the allotted time? If not, get after them (or have your bookkeeper do it…let the bookkeeper be the bad guy!). It is still an important part of your work and it helps you to keep on top of your accounts.
The second focus should be on the things that will earn money down the road. Do you need to create a new product or service? Buckle down, focus and get busy. Do you have that new product or service ready to launch, but still need to get the word out? Time to start advertising and promoting. Is there someone you need to talk to about it, like an investor? Make those appointments. Should you be making sales calls? Get on it!
Making money is always good. Pays the bills — and you, right? But it would be really nice to have fewer or lower bills to pay. So this is your third priority, finding ways to save money.
Most new business owners want to save money by doing is everything themselves. This is “penny wise and pound foolish.” What is your time worth? What are you good at? What things are way outside your skill set? You need to focus on those things that only you can do and outsource the rest.
Are you lousy with numbers? Get a bookkeeper. Do you have zero idea how to create a website? Find a web developer. Are you clueless about marketing? Search out and hire an expert.
You should be out there doing your A-Number-1 priorities — making money. It’s not a weakness to farm out the grunt work. It’s great time management. You may think you can’t afford it. I’m telling you this for free: You can’t afford not to.
Once you’ve freed yourself of non-income-producing tasks, focus on other areas you might be able to save money. Look at your bills right now and every six months or so to determine:
- Can you get cheaper Internet service?
- Are there less-expensive cell phone providers?
- Will you be able to save money purchasing office supplies in bulk?
- Do you really need an office or can you work virtually?
- Is cheaper insurance available?
One thing that’s worked for me is contacting my existing suppliers and telling them I’m being wooed by their competitors at a much better rate — and ask them for a deal. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. The worst thing they can say is “no,” and then you move on to that better deal.
Do you have a time management tip that has worked especially well for you in your business? Please share in the comments below — I’d love to hear about i!