The golden rule of business says that effective time management is the key to success. Today’s entrepreneurs will say it’s all about the “grind” and the “hustle” – working long hours and through the night with little or no pay. It’s well known that if enough work is put in, it will pay off in the end. That’s the recipe.
Despite vast amount of research, studies and tools available suggest creating a successful start-up from scratch is hard. However, new research has revealed that the biggest obstacle that small business owners are constantly facing is poor time management. It’s suggested this contributes hugely to a large portion of the 90 percent of start-ups that fail within the first 5 years.
The findings come from Instantprint’s survey to 500 small business owners, and the results are staggering. In an average week, a typical business owner finds only 12 hours to pursue activities dedicated to the growth of their business. Over half (53 percent) find most of their time is allotted to work admin and report writing.
Although these are necessary tasks, they veer away from the focus of growing their business.
Lack of time is also forcing businesses to turn down opportunities. A number of senior decision makers claim they’re often forced to turn down opportunities to concentrate on existing customers leaving them with no time to grow their consumer pool and build new relationships.
Given the research findings, fellow entrepreneur and co-founder of Instantprint: James Kinsella, said: “We all know how it feels to fight the clock. There are only so many hours in the day to get everything done and SMEs are feeling the squeeze. It is interesting to see from the research that it’s the management of our hours, minutes and seconds that have the biggest effect on the running of a successful enterprise. Every business is unique, but improving time management and optimizing working hours can only bring positive outcomes.”
Here are some tips to use time more effectively:
1) Find out your most productive work hours
Fifty-one percent of surveyed business owners claim they’re most productive between the hours of 9am and 12pm compared to other hours of the day. Finding your most productive time is crucial. Things that kill productivity include: routine activities and continuous work that demotivate you. Go a maximum of two hours and then tune out to tune back in.
2) Just say no
Many of us are just too polite, but sometimes it’s important to simply say no. Distractions steal your time from important tasks. People may ask you to do a quick thing here and there, but suddenly your hours disappear. If you’ve got an important task, keep at it and don’t let anyone interrupt, you’re busy.
3) Go step-by-step
Don’t think of your to-do list as one huge item to complete. It’s overwhelming and will only put pressure on you. Take one thing at a time and this will allow you to give each task the attention it deserves. As a bonus tip, make sure you establish a method to classify tasks that need to take priority.
4) Know what gets you through
Some days you’ll need a boost to power through your workload. Whether it’s because you had a bad night sleep or you’re especially busy that day, find what gets you through. Some get through with coffee or tea breaks,
5) Exercise and eat well
It may seem unrelated but taking care of yourself has a direct impact on your mood and concentration. A healthy diet with regular exercise increases dopamine in the brain, making you feel better and more alert. Sitting at a desk all day can really take a toll so it’s important to get moving when you can.