Whether you are a solo home-based entrepreneur, work at home mom, freelancer or a small business owner, you can expect to wear many hats.
If you are running a small landscaping business, you may be the overall strategist, marketer, customer service officer, equipment manager, operations manager, and personnel manager all rolled into one. If you’re a graphic designer, you may be acting as the marketer and bookkeeper who prepares invoices and run after non-paying clients, in addition to doing the graphic design work.
With so many tasks to do, the challenge is to be aware when you are working ON your business – not IN your business.
As Ken Boyar in his book “The Practical Dreamer: Do’s and Don’ts of Mastering a Small Business” said:
Nothing is more important than to use time wisely … The key is to draw the line between tasks that move the business forward and those that do not.”
Take this online publisher I’ve met years ago at a conference. Being in the same line of business, we got into talking and comparing notes about our businesses. Working on his website alone with a limited technical background, his main challenge was the daily maintenance of his “stone-age” website. Created in the mid-1990s, his website consists of flat files; with no CSS, no databases, and no content management system. Maintenance was a nightmare and took up a sizeable chunk of his time.
He described his problem as: “When I need to change something in the left navigation column of the site, that means I have to go to each of my thousand-plus pages. Don’t even get me started about adding subtopics or changing the navigation structure. Making the changes takes up a huge portion of my time – time that I could spend instead on marketing the business or creating new information products. Alas, I can’t.”
Look at your daily schedule, and determine if the tasks you are doing — especially those that takes up a huge portion of your time — are what you need to move your business forward. Consider the following questions:
- Does the task warrant this much attention from you? Or is there a better use of your time?
- Do you think there are ways to speed up the process and cut down the time spent doing this task?
- Are there affordable technologies that you can use to speed up the process?
- Is there a better way or system that can be adopted to do this task?
- Is this something that you can outsource so you can focus on the most important things of your business?
- Can you hire an assistant or even an intern to do this task for you?
- Is there a way to simplify the process?
Take a critical look at how you spend your time and constantly find ways you can improve how you run your business. Just because you’re doing something doesn’t mean that you really should be doing it. And just because you’re doing something in a particular way doesn’t mean that there are no better ways of doing it. Always be open and on the lookout for ways to better reach your business goals.