Due to the highly demanding nature of running your own business, It’s essential that one of the most important and valuable assets that you have at your disposal, is utilised as wisely as possible – Your TIME.
Yet despite the immense value of time, so many SME Business Owners find themselves distracted by issues and problems that have an unnecessary impact on their time.
Unless “time” is being invested in the activities that will help you achieve more of what you want in your business and life, you could say you are wasting time because it’s gone forever, it’s finite and you are not getting the return on your investment you hope for!
So it’s essential to figure out where you are wasting time and hopefully the following list will help you with that, and then reduce the waste, it’s as simple as that!
A good way to start this would be to rate yourself against each time waster from 0 – 10 with 0 being no time being wasted there at all and 10 being an area you waste a huge amount of time consistently. This will give you your areas to focus improvement. Good luck!
In no particular order here are the 10 top time wasters for the SME Business Owner:
Business meetings can be a huge drain on time as it’s very easy to get caught in a situation where you have endless meetings, the preparation and follow up as well and very little to show for them.
Is every meeting really necessary? Is there a clear agenda and timeframe, and what is the intended outcome?
Unfortunately many meetings are scheduled without factoring any of these in. Work must be done to qualify that meetings have a real purpose to them and structure them so you can ensure you fulfil that.
Networking meetings can also be a massive waste of time if you don’t engage fully in it; referring to people and following up on your potentials are essential if you want it to be more than a social!
2. Ad hoc marketing and social media
So many are understandably answering to the call to go digital and have an online presence. Lack of a marketing strategy though can lead to ineffective but time consuming efforts where hours are spent managing Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts.
Even those who have a marketing plan can be guilty of wasting time on putting it into action and not leaving enough time to follow up the leads it generates, however a good marketing plan with weekly and daily action planning will massively increase the chances of results in less time.
3. Internet & technology
There are many ways to waste time on the internet with the latest tech devices, online products, programmes and Apps, because, let’s face it, there’s so much to look at and do with them and it’s always changing.
Generally speaking, it’s easy to lose focus on what you are supposed to be doing and get sidetracked by the sometimes overwhelming onslaught of information. Have you ever gone online to do something and found yourself going off track from one page to the next, to the point of forgetting what you were looking for in the first place?!
All that time wasting is accumulating over the weeks and months. Discipline is all important, stay focused on the task in hand. And that’s not to mention the time that can be wasted when technology goes wrong, so it’s vital to keep it all up to date, have the correct support in place and have everything backed up.
4. Hiring the wrong people
As a SME Business Owner your first few “hires” are absolutely critical, in particular your first hire. Often, due to busyness it’s easy to make rash decisions to get someone in to help and then end up wasting time by hiring someone who doesn’t work out.
On average it can take 55 hours to recruit just one great person. This is a massive investment of a SME Business Owners time so no wonder there is the temptation to jump in without due diligence. However the cost of the wrong hire in the long term makes it a worthwhile investment, not to mention the time gained when you have a great person in your team growing your capacity.
5. Over dependent / poorly trained or managed team members
If you have a team working for you it’s easy to get into a situation where they come to you for help and answers all too often, rather than taking their own initiative and ownership of their role.
If you find it hard to delegate, as many SME Business Owners do initially, this scenario can be of your own making as micro management creates a habit of employees not trusting themselves and needing you to tell them what and how to do everything. This is hugely inefficient and doesn’t allow employees to take ownership and develop in their roles as they could and it means you’re saving far less time than you should be by hiring them.
Effective management of others involves a number of skills that can be developed so taking some time to develop yourself will ensure you are better equipped to develop a high performing team.
6. Creating plans that are not implemented
We are the first to advocate effective planning, whether that be strategic planning, project or action planning. However if you create plans and don’t implement them, they are a huge waste of time.
Great strategic planning is supposed to save you time in the long run, but unexecuted plans are pointless. That means a great strategic plan has to be simple and actionable so that it doesn’t go in the bottom draw never to be seen again but is on show and a constant reminder of what you are working towards.
7. Poor administration
Disorganised paperwork all over the place is a sure way to waste time because it means you have to look through it all every time you need something. This is the same when emails that are not organised into relevant folders or deleted, it can take ages to find the ones you need. Setting aside some time to deal with this every day can help you remain efficient.
Finding business services or suppliers can be another huge drain on business owners’ time. Usually for any required supplier there are a multitude of options to choose from.
Referral from a business you’ve worked with can be a great way to speed this process, as the business has already been tested by someone you trust. There are also websites such as blur group (blurgroup.com) where you can outsource the process, they will put a brief out to their supplier database and filter out the 3 strongest responses for you to choose from.
9. Jumping from one thing to another (“shiny penny syndrome”!)
A challenge for the more creative business owners, is that they are never short of good ideas and if they are not careful they will jump from one idea to the next, never seeing them through to fruition.
There must come a point of cementing where the vision needs to be chunked back into the right action on a day to day basis, ensuring that all activity has a purpose which ensure maximum efficiency and productivity, otherwise lots of time is wasted.
10. Procrastination aids; people, TV etc.
No matter how disciplined we are, most people have some things that they know result in a distraction and them not making the best use of their time.
Do you ever find that you start the day with a big to do list and lots of determination, get distracted by something or someone and then before you know it you’ve lost a couple of hours?
Most people know their areas of weakness, and the easiest way to start to overcome them is don’t give yourself the opportunity. If you’re problem is TV, and you work from home, change that, go somewhere it’s not accessible. If the problem is chatting to people constantly, again remove yourself from that situation. There may be a cost associated with doing this, but it’s likely to more than be covered by the revenue generated by your increased productivity.
Follow up Questions:
How did that go?
Where do you waste time the most?
What is this costing you? In your business? In your life?
It’s time to stop wasting time, so:
What are you committed to stopping?
What are you committed to starting?
If you only saved a little more time in each of the 10 ways consistently and invested that time somewhere more productive, you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in your business and life.
Write down your commitments and keep them in sight, especially when you notice yourself wasting time again and commit to changing your habits from today.
If you’d like to discuss what came up for you with us on this then get in touch for a free introductory call on 0203 1891287 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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