Time is precious and never more so when it comes to your business. Whether you are sole trader or running a much larger enterprise, managing time, productivity and desired outcomes can seem like an impossible juggling act. In this post we look at the fundamentals of time management in business and how you can make it work effectively.
The Impact of Time on Business
Much has already been written – and will continue to be written – about time and its use in any business endeavor. Problems occur when time is seen as an end in itself and not just a resource, albeit a very important resource.
Not the least cause of this misunderstanding is the fact that most workers at all levels in the full gamut of organizations from heavy industry to financial services tend to be remunerated on the basis of time – through hourly or annual rates.
But it has to be said that mere attendance has never made a dimesworth of profit for anyone and that these pay-for-time arrangements owe more to convenience than reality.
Everyone – not just those on rates relating to piecework or sales – is really being paid for the outcomes of their activities. The difficulty here is that time is easy to measure and monitor whereas accounting for outcomes – especially those associated with individuals – can be a much more complex and nebulous matter.
As a result many managers devote their attention to the attendance and visible efforts of their people rather than the outcomes of what they do.
The Effect of Personal Time Management
The cornerstone of your personal time management therefore is to understand fully the outcomes required from your own job and by extension, those of your people. They will have much, if not everything, to do with what you do for your customers.
We’re talking here about the very purpose of your job. Can you express these requirements in measurable terms? If not, how can you know whether you’re succeeding?
There are four elements that make up customer needs: quality, quantity, delivery, and price.
Ideally, given the option, most customers would go for perfect, now and free as their preferred arrangement. However, providers of goods and services are subject to the constraints of resource availability and costs, business overheads, and time constraints relating to production and delivery. Any agreed compromises will also allow for a necessary margin for profit.
These requirements, expressed in measurable terms are the basis of sound time management.
A Quick Time Management Exercise
Start with a blank pad and pencil (or your electronic equivalent of choice) and make a to do list of all your forthcoming anticipated activities. Now review the list and assign priority to those items that contribute most towards the purpose of your job.
The most important of these will be number one and so on and will not only attract you early attention but also large chunks of time. Less important things may also command a high priority in terms of early action due, for instance, to associated deadlines which impart a level of urgency, but clear them in as little time as possible.
Your list will now consist of activities falling broadly into four categories:
Now schedule your activities into your diary paying particular attention to priority and time allocation. Carry out the tasks and review the results regularly to improve your scheduling skills and to learn from variances in actual versus planned outcomes whether any operating problems have been highlighted.
How’s your time management? We’d love to hear about your success and failures, tips, tricks and techniques you employ. Leave a comment below and let us know.
It seems incredible in this day and age of online consumerism, that 59% of very small businesses across the globe do not have a website. Yet according to a study commissioned by hosting giants Go Daddy, 6 out of 10 very small businesses are yet to create an online presence for themselves.
The study, carried out by RedShift Research found that the majority of these ‘micro-businesses’ (those with 5 employees or less) simply felt they lacked the tools and expertise to successfully create an online presence and be able to compete with larger competitors. Sadly this has meant many – and among them longstanding businesses – have simply gone to the wall.
As more and more consumers turn to the internet to research, find and purchase the products or services they need, footfall into physical stores has dropped. While large businesses with an online presence have been able to replace in-store purchase with online purchases, smaller businesses have struggled to adapt.
Success isn’t built on a Facebook page alone…
Social media is a wonderful thing – truly it is. Being able to connect with people all over the world in a ‘live’ forum opens up tremendous opportunities. But it has it’s limitations and will never replace the potential selling opportunities a website provides.
Many of the very small businesses canvassed in the study said they had avoided creating a website simply because they felt too limited in terms of technical know-how, budget and even in the size of their business. Some had created social media accounts, although many lay dormant or sorely under utilized.
If you’re not online…then you may as well be invisible
A decade ago, lack of resource or technical knowledge would have been valid reasons for not developing a website. But today those reasons just don’t hold water. It has never been easier to raise your flag online and improve your sales.
A study from Search Engine Land found that 91% of consumers turned to the internet before making a purchase and 85% researched local businesses online first. If you’re not there then you are missing out.
RedShift’s study found that over half of those who took part intended to grow their online presence over the next two years. By making themselves more visible to local, national and international audiences, they anticipate at least 25% growth in their business within 5 years.
The DIY templates you can get free with everything from your business cards to your lunch are running amuck – and the result is that the Internet is now filled with sites that look like a bunch of grade-schoolers created them.
Impressive? No, they aren’t. Nor are they helpful in terms of getting any ‘traffic’ to your business.
And isn’t that what website design is all about? Yes, it is.
Unfortunately, it’s one of those things where ‘everyone’ has jumped on the bandwagon. You buy a domain name, and bingo, they give you a website on the side (like free ice cream with your pie).
The problem is that you don’t know what to do with the site builder, any more than if we handed you a stethoscope and said, “Ok, this is what doctors use, so go forth, be a doctor!”
Website design is one of those things that takes real skills, folks – and there’s a lot more pieces to the puzzle then clicking on a layout and typing in your name and address and uploading a few of your favorite selfies (that’s called Facebook).
Suddenly your site is live, but instead of celebrating – you need to stop and realize that you’ve just done a great disservice to your business.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to a few basics…
It’s really in your company’s best interest to leave your web design to the experts. That’s not to say you should have to pay thousands of dollars, or that you shouldn’t have any input.
It’s just that if you take advantage of what a web designer has to offer you, your web presence will be much more substantial, and help you attract and retain customers.