Time is money. When you’re driving your own business you will need to wear many hats. You'll be making financial strategy decisions one minute, and unloading a delivery or answering phones the next. When you're trying to keep so many plates spinning, it can be difficult to focus on what's truly important. It can often feel like there are not enough hours in the day.
If this describes your day at work, then you are not alone. As Miles Davis once said - “Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing”.
Effective leaders know how to separate the urgent and the important. Managing you're time effectively is crucial to the long-term success of your business. So, let’s discover some decisive time management strategies and their concomitant cost-saving benefits for your business.
Perform a Time Audit
First things first. Find out how you spend your time. Our day, just like everyone else’s, is only 24 hours. Yet some people are able to squeeze more from that time than others.
Fill out how you spent each hour each day before home time. Be honest! If a meeting lasts two hours rather than one, then mark it and say why. If you didn’t work on something you scheduled to work on, record that too. If something unexpected came up, then write it in.
Do this exercise for at least one month. Don’t be afraid to ask all of your staff to do likewise. Create a spreadsheet and see if there are any patterns. Note where the time suckers are. Once you know where your time is going, then you can begin to strategise accordingly...
Monetary Value of Each Working Hour
What gets measured gets managed. Now use your time audit to aggregate the hours spent per activity, and rank these activities from top to bottom on a list. Rank order your aggregated billed activities from top to bottom in a second list. Note whether or not these activities are essential to revenue and bottom-line profit drives.
Ask yourself “is the amount of time ranked correlated with the cost?" If you’ve spent 20 hours in meetings, which have not added directly or indirectly to your bottom-line, and this is where most time was spent, then drastic changes are required.
Moreover, what is the hourly cost per overhead and labour cost for those time consuming low priority tasks? We all have the same 24 hours. And learning to use them in business to their most profitable potential is key to time management. If someone or something is wasting your time, eliminate them.
It’s not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about? Make a list of your business priorities starting at No.1 for the most important, and work your way down the list. Now, give over time each week to schedule and monitor. Simply create to-do lists and update them daily. Now that you know where best to spend your time, it should be easy. If it’s not on the schedule because it’s too costly, it won’t need to be done. Use your scheduler to prioritise your day focused on tasks essential to profit.
For the more ambitious of you - the Eisenhower Method might be just the tactic. This method separates priorities into two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The Important-Urgent quadrant tasks are done immediately and personally because they represent crises, deadlines, problems. The important and not urgent items can be scheduled. The unimportant but urgent can be delegated. Finally, the not urgent and not important items are not priorities at all! These items can be eliminated.
Look for Ways to Automate
Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things. But what’s to be done with your new found right priorities that may cost too much relative to other right priorities? A key cost-savings solution on this front is to seek to automate, where possible.
Nowadays, with the rise of cloud technology, automation is king. One can automate invoicing and reduce accountancy costs, schedule social media posting with the likes of Hootsuite or Meet Edgar and save marketing per hour costs. A business can save team time, not to mention money, with networked office applications such as GoogleDocs or GoToMeeting.
Some might say that to do two things at once is to do neither. With automated technologies picking up the tab, you really can do twice as much work, twice as well, and for half the price. So, start researching ways to automate your business from today.
Do, Delegate, and Defer
Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. All successful entrepreneurs know that leadership's ability to prioritise is what makes or breaks a business. For a business to go from surviving to thriving, its leaders need to focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks, and then share, delegate, delay, or forget the rest.
Think for a moment, could any activities be outsourced? Your division of labour might be suppressing your in-house staff potential, and costing your company in critical development. Can you outsource operational components of daily tasks and focus your best in-house staff on the more taxing work?
For example, how are you with chasing payments? If you’re an SME owner, this may be essential, but certainly not the best use of your time. (See our previous cash flow management Linked Finance blog).
Hire the right people to do this for you and free up your time for critical business matters.
So, there you have it. Try measuring, monitoring and making the most of your precious time to improve your bottom-line. We promise, the value of measuring your time will make financial sense.
If you're stuck in the meantime, or need some financing to make an all important time management change, know how to get fast draw down working capital. Choose P2P finance with Linked Finance…
If you've got plans to invest in a time saving business development, Linked Finance can help. With business loans of up to €300K in just one day, we can provide the funding you need to succeed.