9 Time Management Tips For Small Business Owners
As a brick-and-mortar small business owner, there are hundreds of daily tasks we must complete to keep everything running smoothly. Unlike large corporations, we don’t have the luxury of outsourcing to alleviate the burden, which is why every second of our day counts. Time management isn’t just a tool for helping small businesses thrive; it’s necessary to make success a reality. If you’re anything like me, managing your time doesn’t come naturally, but the good news is that you can learn to be more mindful of your time, which will pay dividends in productivity. I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite time management skills that can help you cultivate a culture of productivity and help your business succeed.
What Is Time Management?
Ok, this may seem like a ridiculous question, but many of us are unaware of what successful time management looks like in practice. The dictionary defines time management as the “ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work”. Effective and productive time management looks different in every business situation; defining what it means for you is key. For some, it could be waking up at 5:00 am, going for a run, and getting to work at 7:00 am to begin preparing for the day. For others, it may mean setting up small milestones throughout the day to help keep you on track. If what you’re doing results in a well-functioning business, and you don’t find yourself stressed about how much you must get done and how little time there is to do it, you’re on the right track!
The Top Time Management Tips for Small Businesses
Your time is precious so take advantage of these tips to help you keep your sanity while ensuring your business runs smoothly.
#1 Find Your Starting Point
Before you can begin making changes to improve your time management skills, it’s important to gauge your starting point and how you’re currently spending your time. Take a few days and write down your daily tasks and how long it takes to complete them. Be sure to observe starting and end times and any other information worth noting. For example, you can write down if you feel stressed or rushed, how well you completed the tasks if you had time to complete them fully, and what you would like to see changed with better time management skills. Yes, this process takes some time and requires a bit of effort, but you will appreciate having a detailed write-up of where you started so you can track your progress in the future.
#2 Identify Your Goals and Tasks
Once you have a good idea of how you spend your time throughout the day, it’s time to identify your goals and the daily tasks that need to be accomplished. Often, we only achieve a fraction of what we could have completed since we don’t have a clearly defined list of what we should focus on, which can cause us to get distracted and lose focus. Additionally, without setting goals, we begin to flounder, never knowing if we’re making progress. Sit down and think about all the goals you want for your business, both large and small, and write them down, remembering even the seemingly unimportant goals matter too. As time goes on, cross off each goal as you meet it, celebrating every achievement you accomplish. Doing this will help you stay motivated and prove how far you’ve come, which can be a lifesaver when you feel overwhelmed, and question if owning your own business is worth all the hard work!
#3 Avoid Multitasking
Ok, I know that being a small business owner means juggling many different tasks simultaneously, but by stopping and focusing your full attention on one thing at a time, you will be able to improve the quality of your work and speed up the process. In fact, by going slower, you will discover you end up meeting your daily goals faster! While multitasking may seem like a good way to increase productivity, it can slow you down since you are more inclined to make mistakes and leave the job half-finished. Remember, slow and steady really does win the race!
#4 Make (And Stick To) A Schedule
As small business owners with a brick-and-mortar store, a well-planned schedule is our best friend, helping ensure we stay productive and meet our goals. It’s a good idea to create multiple schedules, including yearly, monthly, and daily to keep you organized and limit stress. For example, scheduling when it’s time to resign your rental lease or pay your mortgage is essential to keeping your business open, while planning when to restock items ensures your shelves are never bare. Since every business is unique, your scheduling needs will vary, but everyone can benefit from the organization they create.
#5 Utilize Your Employees
Whether you have one or a hundred employees, utilizing their skills will help keep your business running smoothly. It can be challenging to relinquish control and allow your workers to complete some of the daily tasks you are used to doing, but it is often the best way to ease your burden and increase sales. I also want to stress the importance of treating your employees fairly and with respect while creating a fun working environment. With so many small businesses struggling to maintain their workers, it’s vital to ensure you take care of them and that they feel valued. Not only will this create a sense of loyalty among your employees, but it will help improve productivity.
#6 Reduce Distractions
Distractions in the workplace can be a productivity killer, which is why it’s important to reduce them as much as possible. If you have TVs and find you and your employees spend more time watching what’s on than doing your job, you may want to turn them off or find something that isn’t as captivating. While TVs are one example, distractions can come in many forms, from talking too much about non-work-related matters to singing along with the radio; if it takes your mind off your work, it’s not helpful. While you don’t want your business to be dull and boring, you do want to ensure you meet your goals and stay on task, so experiment to find a good balance without too many distractions. Once your work is complete, then crank up the fun!
#7 Pinpoint Time Wasters
Following along the lines of reducing distractions, pinpointing “time wasters” will help you keep your business running smoothly. As the old saying goes, “time is money,” and if there is an area of your business that wastes time, it’s also wasting money. Often, you may not realize something isn’t contributing to the workplace, failing to address it until the problem becomes noticeable. Once it is serious enough to get to this point, you’ve already lost countless hours and dollars, which directly affects your bottom line. Spend some time walking around your store and being mindful of what you see and the tasks you and your employees complete each day. If you notice something that is repetitive or has no real purpose, consider removing it or eliminating it from the routine.
#8 Consider The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule has been a cornerstone of successful brick-and-mortar businesses for decades, with some of the most prolific names finding success from it. Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule states that 80% of all outcomes occur from 20% of all causes. In other words, 20% of your tasks will create 80% of your results. This concept focuses on prioritizing the most productive activities that promote the highest ROI. In every business, those activities vary, so taking the time to determine your 20% will help you focus your attention on the tasks that propel your business forward and delegate out the ones that may not be as lucrative.
#9 Don’t Forget to Rest
All small business owners must devote ample time to their business to help it succeed, but as brick-and-mortar business owners, our jobs are even harder. We have so many different tasks to complete daily to keep the doors open that we often forget how important it is to schedule
in time to rest. Burnout is a very real and severe problem resulting from constant stress and anxiety in the workplace. When burnout occurs, you lose the motivation to reach your goals, and you can become sick both physically and mentally. Resting allows your body to release built-up anxiety and makes you feel rejuvenated and restored. You can’t help your business or employees if you don’t prioritize your health and allow yourself to take breaks when needed.
As a brick-and-mortar business owner, you have the unique challenge of navigating an ever-changing economy and ensuring your business succeeds. Time management is a vital part of this process and is one of the best tools you can use. The tips above will help get you on the right track for managing your time well and increasing your productivity!
If you’re interested in more of the tools, vendors, and platforms I use in our brick-and-mortar business, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites here.