Article #72, August, 2008
3 Secrets to Time Management for Small Business Owners
I can't tell you why these are secrets, but it might be because most people don't appear to know how to do them. At least, they are not doing them now!
Allow me to illustrate my credibility on this subject - I am an only parent of two wonderful daughters in middle and high school (and a dog) and have my own full-time business. I'm gradually painting the inside of our home, wall by wall, and have a 15 year-old car. I'm busy.
I love my life, but in order to accomplish all I want to accomplish, I have to organize the way I spend my time very well.
Here are my secrets: a week-at-a-glance planner, a 2-page business action plan and a cleaning woman! The first two tools work hand in hand and require very little maintenance, but they do require some systematic attention. The third one should be self explanatory!
The best way to create a time management system that works for you is to research systems other people use and cherry pick from them the components that will fit with your life and your personality.
The business action plan is absolutely required. Put your to-do list into a document with deadlines attached to all action items. You may notice that you have way too many to-dos on your list and there is no way you can get them all done in the time frame you have selected. So, change it.
Part of the benefit received from having a business action plan is knowing how much you can accomplish in a prescribed time period. If your business is new, just map out a six month plan. Otherwise, do a year. Also, you can change it any time you want - it's your plan.
After listing your to-dos, categorize them. Are they marketing actions or administrative? Marketing covers the following 4 Ps: Product, Promotion, Price and Packaging. Administrative is just about everything else, including bookkeeping. You can lump education in there, too.
For the marketing actions, categorize them further by dividing all your promotional actions into strategies. Examples of strategies include networking, speaking, advertising, email, website, other internet, etc. Within each strategy, list the actions you plan to do this year.
You are well on your way to having a business action plan with a marketing plan embedded! I bet you never thought it could be this easy. You are not finished, but you have the meaty part done.
Every Friday, take out this list and read it. Open your calendar. Which of these actions can you work on the next week? If you can clearly see on your calendar that you will be taking your kids to the doctor, attending 3 networking meetings and servicing a full load of clients, you may have very little time to market. Pick some small things to do and write them on your calendar to do next week. If you are not booked up, add something big to your schedule.
One thing to keep in mind as a high priority is to keep something in your pipeline at all times, even if your business is at capacity today. Having a waiting list is a good thing! This means, make phone calls to prospects EVERY SINGLE WEEK! When you have more time, call 50 people. When you get an answering machine, don't leave a message - call again later.
If you want to be wealthy, you need to set challenging goals, then go after them aggressively! You can do this!