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Small Business Success Demands Lot’s of Time – So Use It Wisely!

You know that starting a small business won’t be easy, but you might be surprised at the challenges that often cause the most difficulty, even sabotaging small business success.

A big problem often involves time management. Although most entrepreneurs and small business owners are ready to invest their time 24/7, that ultimately won’t be enough. The better solution is to work smart, not hard.

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A big factor is that startup businesses typically have little cash for support services. Every small businessperson typically serves as their own HR director, government relations officer and janitor – and that’s just for starters.

But time management – realistically budgeting time for what you ABSOLUTELY MUST do – means you might be better off hiring someone to do some tasks. Let’s take marketing as an example.

Marketing is one of those tin cans that’s easy to kick down the road, even though growing or even sustaining your business will demand it. It’s also something many business owners feel somewhat qualified to do themselves.

First, many individual business owners may indeed be able to conduct their own marketing. This seems especially true today when social media marketing is so important. You wouldn’t be the first person to say: “Heck, I can do Facebook for my business!”

Be Honest

Unfortunately, this is likely a good example of how our specialized world lays traps. Again using social media as an example, the expertise requirements are not so daunting, but the investment in time definitely can be. To be effective, you need to make posts on several outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And you need to do that weekly or even daily. Writing intelligent copy, posting properly sized photos and generally creating a positive brand for you and your company can take an hour or two a day. And the best messages won't be about you and your business, at least directly. More than anything, your posts will feature information, good information, that your customers and potential customers are interested in. Is researching, producing and publishing that really the best use of your time?

Once more, that’s not to say this applies for everyone. You may indeed be able to do this “in your sleep.” Taking it on may in fact be a good idea. Your challenge may instead be IT, dealing with regulations or any of the other skills needed to keep your business going and growing.

That’s why one of the most important requirements for any new business owner may be honesty about his or her strengths. Overestimation of your abilities and underestimation of the time and expertise for some tasks can be serious mistakes. Not only can they represent a waste of resources, but also because they will take those resources from the critical jobs you, and only you, must perform.

This is both hard to see and difficult to admit. If you’ve built a construction company by learning everything from workman’s comp to city codes, acknowledging that you have neither the time nor aptitude for something may not come easily. Or you may be an IT professional who boasts multiple advanced certifications, but simply not especially a good judge of graphic arts. Handing off work to someone who is better and faster at a given job should be almost always be considered.

Managing Your Time

These issues should be considered not just in terms of talent and training, but also as time management issues. You may easily be able to understand the technical details of a given task, but do you really have time to do it right given your many other tasks?

That’s also why it’s so important for you to establish a consistent routine around your most important “core” jobs and stick with it. Other work should be delegated to employees or contractors.

Again, this is very individualized. One owner may do just fine with a note pad list of tasks, with those needed for that day highlighted and “sub-tasks” scribbled in the margins. Another business owner may need one of today’s many computer task or project management applications. Larger teams may do best with computerized solutions, including those where info is accessible through the cloud or other sharing. But the key goal is simply recognizing this need then doing it in a way that works for you.

Especially if you’re just starting or your operation is currently small, one final note might involve contract or “freelance” help. Today’s gig economy is full of talented professionals who can economically fill critical gaps for you, provided you approach this carefully. Although this is a separate topic, good advice includes setting clear parameters for your projects, including a not-to-exceed budget you can afford. This may limit what you receive – expecting $10,000 worth of work for $1,000 is not intelligent – but you and the contractor will be happier if both understand clearly what you’re getting into. And you’ll save time!

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Midwest Small Busness Finance | 7001 N Locust St. | Gladstone, MO 64118 | Phone: 816-468-4989