As business owners without a massive team in place, days can feel overwhelming and worse, unproductive, if you don’t have a clear road map of what daily tasks you need to be working on to ultimately get your business to where it needs to be. Starting a small business is like embarking on an exciting yet challenging journey.
Small business owners are not just entrepreneurs; they are visionaries who wear multiple hats, juggling tasks and responsibilities that cover every aspect of their venture. The constant checking of various email inboxes, getting bogged down in the day-to-day minutia operational tasks, trying to figure out how to delegate and to who, and so on all consume our minds and we’re constantly worried that our time is not being leveraged most effectively.
What makes this maddening is that it’s us; it’s the man in the mirror who controls what we do. One of the most critical challenges they face is determining where to allocate their time effectively to drive exponential growth.
Here, we’ll explore the struggles small business owners encounter in this endeavor and provide insights into how they can navigate this complex terrain.
1. The Multifaceted Dilemma: Small business owners often find themselves in a dilemma about where to focus their time. From managing daily operations, handling finances, marketing, customer service, and strategizing for growth, they must tackle a myriad of tasks, each demanding attention. This dilemma can lead to a scattered approach, where efforts are spread too thin across various areas, preventing substantial progress. Outside of this, it’s simply frustrating to know that there are so many hats to wear, but none of them help to significantly move the needle.
2. Time Constraints: Time is a finite resource, and small business owners are acutely aware of its value. Balancing the time between growing the business and attending to current demands is a perpetual challenge. Many find themselves caught in a cycle of fire-fighting, responding to immediate needs rather than proactively investing time in activities that lead to long-term growth. Everyone has experienced this as a small business owner. Few have mastered the steps necessary to move away from this and begin to delegate.
3. Fear of Missed Opportunities: In a rapidly evolving market, the fear of missing out on potential opportunities can be paralyzing. Small business owners often struggle with prioritization, as every decision feels pivotal. This fear can lead to overcommitting time and resources to multiple avenues without a clear understanding of which will yield the best returns.
Beyond this, and getting into the micro, thinking about delegating something like inbound sales operations can genuinely frighten business owners, as they believe that moving someone besides themselves into this position could result in lost revenue if leads aren’t handled properly.
4. Lack of Expertise: Entrepreneurs are generally passionate about their business idea, but they might not possess expertise in every functional area. This lack of specialized knowledge can make it difficult to make informed decisions about where to allocate time. For instance, a creative artisan might excel at product design but struggle with digital marketing strategies.
Because of this fact, owners tend to “learn” on the fly, which ultimately has the opposite effect of what they’re looking for. And that is more time and cost.
5. Shifting Landscape: The business landscape is in constant flux due to technological advancements, changing consumer behaviors, and market trends. Small business owners must adapt to these shifts while still maintaining their existing operations. Navigating these changes requires a careful balance between staying current and not losing sight of the business’s core objectives.
6. Scaling Challenges: When a small business starts to experience growth, there’s often a need to scale operations. This brings a new set of challenges, including hiring and training staff, setting up efficient processes, and maintaining quality standards. Balancing time between scaling activities and day-to-day operations can be overwhelming.
Strategies for Success
Define Clear Goals: Begin by setting clear and achievable goals for your business. This will help you identify where to allocate your time based on what will drive the most significant impact toward those objectives. Ok, those are broad statements, so what can we give that is a bit more concrete? For a junk removal company, as an example, you might outline your goals at a macro level, such as “reach $1M in revenue next year.” Or, “ hire enough truck team members so I can move off the truck completely.”
Prioritize Ruthlessly: Learn to differentiate between urgent and important tasks. Use frameworks like the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize tasks based on their significance and urgency. For an HVAC company, this might look like prioritizing your scheduled maintenance customers more so than the random one-off lead you get for a customer who just needs to have a single fix done.
Leverage Technology: Embrace tools and software that streamline tasks and processes. Automation can free up time by handling routine tasks, allowing you to focus on strategic decisions. Having a day-to-day CRM is crucial, yes, but beyond that, there are tools like accounting tools, HR tools, and so on that drive efficiencies when roped in together.
Outsource and Delegate: Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Consider outsourcing tasks that fall outside your expertise and delegating responsibilities to trusted team members. This is likely the most difficult suggestion to master, as it requires giving up some control. But if you can find people that do a task at least 70% as well as you do, it’s worth your time to “let it go.”
Continuous Learning: Stay informed about industry trends and new technologies. Invest time in learning and self-improvement to make informed decisions and anticipate changes. This information can be found in the forms of podcasts, newsletters, youtube channels, traditional books, mentors, radio, and so on. Invest in yourself and that will yield positive benefits to your company.
Data-Driven Decisions: Base your decisions on data and insights. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand which areas are driving growth and where adjustments are needed. Data over “feelings.” What feels right may not always be the best direction for the company. You may truly enjoy doing pressure washing a lot more than junk removal, but if junk removal yields higher revenues and better profits, it would be foolish to allocate more time to pressure washing, as an example.
Time Blocking: Allocate specific blocks of time for different tasks. This helps avoid context switching and allows you to dive deep into a task without distractions. Tactically, using your calendar as your friend is the best course of action here, even if you do not have a scheduled appointment to call an “appointment” on your calendar, block the time so you can be uninterrupted.
Strategic Networking: Build a network of mentors, peers, and advisors. Learning from others’ experiences can help you make better decisions about where to focus your time. Again, this can be found in many different outlets, both in person and remotely. Find what works best for you and go after those channels.
The struggle small business owners face in allocating their time for exponential growth is undoubtedly daunting. However, by adopting strategic approaches, leveraging resources, and making data-driven decisions, they can navigate this challenging terrain. Recognizing that time is a valuable asset and utilizing it effectively can transform these struggles into opportunities, propelling their business toward exponential success.