Too Many Hats? The small business challenge
Do you run your own business?
It’s inevitable that as a small business owner, you will wear many, many hats because we don’t have the luxury (yet) of passing these tasks on to other members of our team.
As a VA it’s part of my job to help people become more organised within their business by installing or updating systems and processes. Wearing too many hats can lead to overwhelm and leave you feeling disengaged, foggy and fed up. If that sounds like you then read on to find out how you can minimize your hats and maximize your time?
Does this sound familiar…marketing manager, bookkeeper, blog writer, sales manager and website designer, these are just some of the roles that we can take on during the course of a very busy day. But while this type of task juggling is to be expected with a small business, you need to be aware that not all of your hats are created equal and not all of them will suit you.
Networking and generating business outweigh bookkeeping because without sales, there will be no cash to run the business. But that doesn’t mean that bookkeeping isn’t also an essential part of running your business.
Not only that, but you must consider how much time you’re spending in each area as well.
If you spend all day tweaking the design on your website and put off sending an email to a potential customer, what have you gained or potentially lost? Similarly, we all know how time seems to disappear on social media – fifteen minutes can quite easily turn into an hour. So, it’s imperative that you effectively manage all of your daily activities efficiently.
Income generating or Operational?
The first thing to do is to identify and distinguish between your income generating tasks and your operational ones. This is important because the operational tasks will need doing but these can be scheduled. Blocking out time in your calendar for certain tasks each week or month ensures the time is protected, and the task will get done on time. This also gives you the added bonus of knowing that when you are focusing on income generation i.e at a networking event, you don’t have to rush back because you have to invoice someone. Blocking out time also provides focus and order to your day.
Prioritize Your Daily Tasks
We all have different skills and sweet spots when it comes to the tasks we want and need to do. You might love website design and hate bookkeeping but regardless of your personal preferences, one thing is certain: we have to prioritize and do the essential tasks first.
Know the Difference Between Important and Urgent
In his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey recommends prioritizing tasks based on a time-management grid. I love this method and it's relevant to all businesses and sectors so take note. Every task is assigned to a quadrant on the grid, based on whether it is urgent, important, both, or neither.
Tasks that you allocate in Quadrant 1 are both urgent and important and must get done first. These could be problems with clients, late deliveries or someone on the phone that you need to talk to. Quadrant 2 tasks are important but not urgent and are the activities that contribute to your mission, goals etc so planning, strategy and networking for example. The problem with these tasks is that sometimes Quadrant 1 takes up all of your time and focus away from the Quadrant 2 tasks. And you need to stop doing the things in Quadrant 4 i.e. Facebook... By using this system you can clearly identify what percentage of your time you are spending on the various quadrants and make the necessary adjustments.
And sometimes when things are getting a little overwhelming stepping back and taking 15 minutes out to plan can clear you mind and let you focus again. So it may seem like I am overcomplicating things I'm not, using this methodology does allow you to maintain essential focus. And after a while you will get the hang of this way of thinking.
Most business owners have many great talents, but we all have our limits; be it time, skill-set or even the desire to complete those essential yet routine tasks. With any growing business, there will come a point when trying to do it all could equate to missed revenue-generating opportunities. This ultimately means you reach a point at which the business will fail to grow, and you risk becoming disillusioned.
Ask yourself this: could my time be better spent? Outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant or other professional freelancer can be scary, especially if you’re already on a tight budget and are a bit of a control freak. But in the long run, hiring these experts to handle tasks they are experienced to do will leave you free to grow your business.
If bookkeeping and numbers give you headaches, why not hire a bookkeeper who will keep your monthly accounts in order? They will already know how to use the bookkeeping software, produce reports so you know exactly how much you made every month, and prepare your records so your tax return doesn't turn into the usual bind.
You can read about the reasons and benefits outsourcing can bring to your organization in my blog post here.
It might seem like the initial planning is more work in addition to your already busy day but making a conscious effort to organise and prioritise your days will leave you feeling a lot less stressed and overwhelmed. It might also leave you with time so that you can plan and grow your business.
If you need help with your time management or in deciding what tasks to outsource, call me for a discovery call to see how I can help your business.