Time management for business owners

time management for business owners

When you launch a new business, the odds are stacked against you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately:

  • 20% of businesses fail in the first two years.
  • 45% of businesses fail in the first five years.
  • 65% of businesses fail in the first 10 years.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of businesses make it 15 years or more. Given these odds, how can you ensure your new endeavor is built to last?

Start by valuing your time as a business owner. There are only so many hours in a day, and time management strategies for small business owners are essential. An owner’s time needs to be laser focused on activities that deliver real value for the company. What exactly are those high-value activities? 

To help you best allocate your time, here’s a look at eight time management tips for small business owners.

1. Strategy

Time management for small business owners starts with strategy. Owners should have a clear vision for where the business is heading in the coming years. How the business connects its present to its future is the corporate strategy. Without one, your business will wander aimlessly in the present without any clear path to growth.

Unfortunately, statistics paint a bleak picture of how most companies create and communicate strategy. About two-thirds of all strategic plans fail. Only 5% of frontline employees are aware of or understand the corporate strategy. And 71% of employees cannot recognize their own company’s strategy in a multiple choice question. 

Without attention from the owner, what chance does the strategy have of succeeding? You should be dedicating significant time each year toward strategy creation, and then significant time throughout the year toward communication around strategy and strategic progress.

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2. Hiring

Hiring is time-consuming and expensive. A benchmarking report suggests companies spend 42 days and $4,129 to make a hire. And that’s just the average. For more technical positions or positions that require more experience, the numbers could be even higher. Even an employee making $8 an hour can cost a company $3,500 in direct and indirect turnover costs.

Hiring is an unavoidable part of running a business, but it’s essential that companies make good hiring decisions. If they fail, they will incur these direct and indirect turnover costs over and over. 

Given how important hiring is to a company’s success, and given how expensive a high turnover rate can be, the hiring process needs the involvement of the owner. Yes, owners can and should hire HR teams to run hiring processes. But owners also need to keep tabs on hiring so that it benefits the company — rather than placing a drag on the bottom line.

There’s an alternative to hiring full-time team members, though. You can also find strategic partners to whom you can outsource important activities — last-mile delivery included. When you find great partners, they handle the hiring, training and management. You can tap into your partners and their workforces whenever needed. See No. 8 below for more on delegating to strategic partners.

3. Creating Systems

Business owners typically start as solo entrepreneurs who have nothing but a product or service and a vision for future growth. In the early days, operations may be highly manual. But they shouldn’t be manual forever. As owners start hiring and businesses start to grow, teams should rely on systems to automate and streamline their work.

We live in an age when it’s easier than ever to automate processes. According to McKinsey, 45% of all activities can be automated using existing technologies. Systems and automation empower a business to do more with less and to get the most out of each team member. Given the benefits of systems and automation, their creation and implementation deserve attention from owners. 

4. Revenue Development

Your pipeline, your customers, and your revenue are collectively the lifeblood of your business. If there’s anything revenue-related that needs your attention as an owner, you need to be prepared to jump in and help.

That makes perfect sense at first glance when you’re thinking about time management for business owners. But it’s hard to get involved in revenue activities if you’re deeply ingrained in tasks that should be automated or handled by others. If you need to help close a big deal, if you need to help retain an existing client, or if you need to help establish a revenue-driving partnership, you need to have the time available.

5. Saying No

It is psychologically difficult to say “no.” This is especially true when you own and operate a business and you feel a deep sense of responsibility to your people. But saying “yes” too often is an indication that you lack control. “The ability to communicate ‘no’ really reflects that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life,” Vaness M. Patrick, a marketing professor, told the New York Times in a story about saying “no” more often.

Saying no could reflect that you’re in the driver’s seat of your own business, too. Don’t look at saying “no” as failing your team members. Looking at it as preserving your time for the most high-value tasks within your business — the things listed in this post.

6. Truly Urgent Tasks

The unexpected happens from time to time. In many cases, your team members will be able to handle the unexpected. But, in some instances, you’ll need to be able to jump in and handle an issue that emerges without notice. 

All owners should reserve flex time within their weeks and months to dedicate to truly urgent tasks that seemingly come out of nowhere. Give your team members a chance to handle these urgent tasks, but get involved when required — especially if the urgent task is something that directly affects revenue, as noted above.

7. Expansion and Growth

There are more than 32 million small businesses in the United States, making up 99.9% of all U.S. business. But there’s only one way to graduate from the small business category: expansion and growth.

Expansion and growth plans are likely included in some of the points made above. For example, expansion and growth would be part of your corporate strategy, and they would certainly be accounted for in revenue-related activities. But there’s an adage in entrepreneurship that you should be working on your business rather than working in it. What does that mean exactly?

It means thinking through actionable expansion and growth plans. It means evaluating opportunities for new services lines and new products. It means imagining how your business should work, rather than doing the work of your business.

8. Delegation

As a business owner, you can’t be everywhere at once, and you certainly can’t handle all of the tasks as you might have in your company’s earliest days. We’ve already covered the importance of hiring above. But, once you master hiring, it’s time to start delegating important tasks to your team members.

You’ll also find that you can delegate activities to strategic partners — third parties that can bring capacity to your organization more efficiently and affordably than if you tried to create that capacity using in-house resources.

Let Metrobi Bring Capacity to Your Team

Last-mile delivery is one of the functions most ripe for a strategic partner. As you’re thinking about time management for business owners, remember that an effective last-mile delivery company can:

  • Create great customer experiences.
  • Save you time by hiring, training and managing drivers.
  • Provide real-time visibility into order status.
  • Optimize your delivery routes.
  • Reduce carrying costs.
  • Lower risk.
  • Free your time to focus on high-value tasks within your business.
  • Help you grow by expanding your ability to reach more customers.

Metrobi offers reliable last-mile delivery services in markets across the United States. Your time as an owner is valuable and should be dedicated to the highest value tasks and activities. Let us worry about last-mile delivery so that you can work on your business and its growth.

Learn more about what Metrobi can offer as your last-mile delivery partner.

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