When it comes to small businesses staying afloat and thriving, it’s all about time – good time management skills are essential and can mean the difference between a business just getting by or enjoying success.
David Hardisty is a business growth expert in Horsham, Sussex, and he knows how important it is for small businesses to be able to prioritise tasks and use the available hours in a working day efficiently and effectively.
“Just because a small business is good at what it does, doesn’t mean that the owner and employees are good at managing their business!” David says with a smile.
“And this doesn’t just apply to small businesses as large organisations can be just as guilty of bad time management practices. I know from my many years’ experience as a business growth consultant. Employees – and managers – are mostly resistant to change and tend to stick with the same old ways of doing things, even if it’s wasteful, time-consuming and non-productive.”
“So David,” I ask, “why should small businesses come to you for direction on how to use their time better?”
Changing Behaviour Patterns
David nods and says, “As I was saying, we’re mostly creatures of habit and stick to what we know, which applies to business processes and systems as well as most other issues. But if someone we don’t know, say an outsider, comes along and asks, why you do things in a certain way, often we’re not even aware that we are choosing a pattern of behaviour, let alone recognising that there may be a better more efficient way of doing it.”
He smiles. “An example might be that before leaving the house in the morning, a person might put their shoes on leaving the laces untied, and then walk around the house tripping over them, because they’re used to only tying their laces when they go out the front door!”
He shrugs. “OK that might be a poor similie! But the order in which you choose to achieve a task can save you valuable time, and even just gaining an extra half hour or hour each day back can boost productivity substantially. After all, time is money, as the old adage says! And if you have a workforce of, say, six people and they all gain an hour back a day, that’s almost a whole working day extra gained at the end of a week.”
Small Business Pitfalls
So what are the common pitfalls that a small business tends to fall into when not using time properly?
“We all tend to put off unpleasant tasks – a bit like avoiding doing your tax return for weeks!” David says. “But this kind of procrastination is bad for many reasons – for example, we have the nagging guilt hanging over us that the unpleasant thing needs to be seen to for all those weeks we delay. And sometimes we can avoid the task until it’s harmful – like getting a fine for submitting a tax return too late. Or in the case of a business, if you’re too inefficient at some things, customers could turn to more efficient competitors, or the undone task leaves complications of its own if left to fall into a critical state.”
Small business owners, David explains, usually enjoy what they do, so they focus on what they like, rather than tedious administrative or documentation tasks that have nothing to do with why the owner went into business by themselves in the first place.
“I know it sounds obvious, but sometimes people don’t see it, until an outsider points it out and holds up a mirror to what’s going on. The most important tasks should be done at the beginning of a day or week, so you get them out of the way, and enjoy the rest of the day or week to concentrate on what fulfills you the most.”
Also time spent doing a simple activity like recording a number of sales leads from the week before, may take half an hour or so out of a day, but this time spend will help your sales team enormously in the future, and will give you a much better chance of chasing the leads and turning them into concrete sales.
Tracking Sales Leads
“You won’t believe the number of companies, even more medium-sized outfits,” David confides, “that don’t have a reliable way to record potentially interested customers or sales leads. Details scribbled on to a piece of paper can be lost so easily, whereas a system to record and retrieve information like this at the right time can improve your profits massively!”
Time management is just one way that David can help businesses become more successful. For more information on how business growth expert David Hardisty can help grow small businesses including yours, go to http://davidhardisty.com. You can also find David on Facebook HERE.