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Time management for successful entrepreneurs

During my 15 years in business and my 10 years of consulting with entrepreneurs and business owners, I have had countless discussions about time management and the goal of increased efficiency.

Throughout all these discussions, there has been a common thread — business owners and entrepreneurs are consistently seeking ways to find more time. Individuals who say "If only I could have my entire day planned out, I would be more effective." Or, "I just need to buy one of those fancy PALM Pilots and then my life would be organised." To those business owners and entrepreneurs, I say, listen up! Time is an investment.

There is no more to be found. No one has more than you and no one gets less. Every person is given 24 hours a day to do with what they desire. How they invest and leverage their time is the secret to successful life and professional organization.

That said, I have identified four common challenges that entrepreneurs and business owners face in this goal of time management and will present solutions for achieving peace and success in this area.

Top Four Challenges

  • Blurry Vision of Success

  • Overdrawn Owner

  • Disrespecting the 80/20 Rule

  • Wasted Free Time

- Blurry Vision of Success The reason most people do not get what they want is because they do not know what they want.A famous person once said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

That is a powerful statement. I have also heard it said that the world is in constant motion; if you are not moving forward, you are following behind. And yet, so many people either refuse to define success for themselves or merely carry on content with "wishing" for success but never doing anything about it.

Solution – Begin With The End In Mind Paint and articulate a clear picture of what success looks like to you. How does it feel, what does it look like. Take a moment and consider your company.

  • What does it look like in terms of size and location?

  • What do your customers look like?

  • Where is your market share?

  • What is your company worth?

  • What is the culture within your company; is it fun, professional, cool?

  • What is your job?

  • What work do you do?

  • How do you feel?

Write it down Now look around in your vision. What symbol or object can you bring back into your present reality that will serve as a significant trigger or reminder of your vision? Write down anything that offers an attachment to you.

Challenge #2 – Overdrawn Owner Most entrepreneurs or business owners start out being very unclear about what activities generate real tangible bottom line results.

They get so wrapped up in either being all things to all people or delegating the wrong activities that there is no solid infrastructure in their companies and profitability suffers.

Solution – Marketing, Production, Administration In order to understand this common ailment and rectify it, every owner or entrepreneur must accept that every business (no matter the industry or product) is comprised of three elements: marketing, production and administration.

Marketing is defined as all the actions that you (or your company) take to generate interest and excitement in your product or service and ultimately how and how much you sell.

Marketing vehicles include activities such as:

  • Advertising

  • Direct selling

  • Email marketing

  • Events and special promotions

  • Public relations

  • Referral or incentive programmes

Go ahead and take a moment to identify the marketing vehicles that you currently use or want to use in order to sell more of your product/service.Now rate these activities according to

  • ease of execution

  • cost to execute and

  • return on investment

Production represents the "how" of how your products or services are delivered to your customers.

What work needs to get done and step-by-step, how does it get delivered.For example, a graphic designer must first meet with a client to understand his needs.

He must then either put a quote or proposal together and then get the client to agree to the project specifications and price. Then the actual work must get done. The designer then must sit down and perform the work.

Upon completion, the design gets presented to the client, and it goes back and forth until it is complete.Ask yourself, do I need to be present to deliver my product or service to the customer or can I manage a team of people in the delivery of the product/service?

Administrative functions are those functions that must be performed in order for the work to be designed, developed and deposited. They include things like proposal writing, filing, writing marketing materials, managing the website, creating a database, following up with customers, invoicing and collecting, banking, etc.

For example, using the graphic designer above, after the work is completed and the client is happy, he must ensure that an invoice gets created and delivered to a client. All the files must be organized and put away as well. When the client’s cheque arrives, it must be documented and then deposited into the bank.

Then the bills need to be paid.Running the business-side of any operation, no matter the product or service, takes skill and organisation.

Suppliers are not going to be very understanding if they have to wait 60 days to get paid because you forgot to send your client an invoice.

Alternatively, customers will not be so impressed if you expect them to pay before the work is completed.Take a moment to identify the step-by-step process(es) that you employ in your delivery channel(s).Discuss and identify any gaps.

Make a note by all the activities that must be performed by you, or that you love to perform. Pay special attention to those tasks that generate financial results (Mark them with the letter A).

Challenge #3 – Disrespecting the 80/20 Rule

Leverage is a popular investment strategy. Simply put, it means borrowing money to increase the yield on your investment. Ideally the amount due is paid back with interest, and you keep the profit.

In terms of business operations, leverage means working smarter, not harder. And, it starts with replacing yourself or much of what you do personally.

BEWARE – This is an area where a lot of business people go wrong. They delegate too much at the beginning, when money is not so available, and do not get the system fully operational before stepping away.

This is a guaranteed recipe for failure!

Solution – Respect the 80/20 Rule If you surveyed your life and took note of all the activities that brought you the most success, the most financial gain, the most advancement and the most enjoyment, you would discover that about 20% of your activity produces 80% of your results.

This phenomenon is the basis for the Pareto Principle, named after the nineteenth century economist who discovered 80% of an enterprise’s revenues come from 20% of its customers.

Go back and visit the task list that you created in the last exercise. Identify, using the letter C, the activities that you find completely mundane and that do not contribute to your business or personal goals.

Now identify those tasks, using the letter B, that MUST get done in order for you to sell more product/service, deliver more product/service and collect money from your customers.

Remember time is an investment.

Challenge #4 – Wasted Free Time How many times have you come home from work only to be met with a happy and excited family? They have been waiting for your return and are eager to spend time with you.

Only you are exhausted and feel terrible. How many evenings or weekends have you spent with your family and yet you were thinking about work?

How much time do you spend thinking about your family when you are at work? Or anything else you would like to be doing for that matter.

Perhaps you would like to write a book or learn how to play the saxophone.

How many fun and fulfilling things are you missing out on because you are not planning your time?

Solution – Utilise time leveraging for personal pleasure Have you ever considered that by making plans and keeping them with friends you actually spend more active time with your friends than you do with your own family?

How about a hobby? Do you actively seek out and plan time to spend on your hobby? Or do you just get to the end of the week and if there is a few minutes left you will pursue your dreams?

By engaging in the same evaluation of your time and activities as we just did professionally, you can identify areas where you can leverage your time for the most return.

Take a moment now to list the activities you do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that you could perhaps delegate to someone else.

How much FREE time would this open up? Remember, the goal is not to save time, but to invest your time in those activities that generate the most rewards.

Each person is given the same exact amount of time each time. Those that learn how to control their time and leverage their time, produce a significantly higher return on their investment than those who do not.

Commit today to spending 20 minutes at the end of each work day to identify and prioritize your top revenue generating results.

What activities will generate the most income, influence or pleasure? Do those and watch your success skyrocket

Reference Evan Carmichael courtesy of entrepreneurship blog
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