Time Management and the Small Business Owner—Part 1
The first in a series of articles dedicated to encouraging small business owners to value their time as a limited resource essential to their success
David Cox | August 20, 2019
Time Management: If you own a small business, your time is valuable
As a small business owner, the time I can devote to client projects will ultimately determine my income. Subsequently, when I launched ThirdPartyBlogger.com, I should have realized that the ability to manage my time effectively was essential to my business’s financial success. Instead, I assumed the time management skills that helped me succeed as an employee would automatically do the same for me as a business owner.
An employee may view time management as a process for maintaining a schedule and getting things done. On the other hand, a small business owner must also consider time management as a value-process. One that tracks whether his/her time generates revenue or becomes an expense.
As an employee, I kept a master calendar (digital). Also, I worked on projects and individual tasks from a to-do list (paper). I kept a notepad with me, ready to adjust my schedule, tasks, or changes in priorities. These were standard time management practices. Nevertheless, they served me well. In fact, my time management system became an integral part of my productivity and helped me succeed as an employee.
I scheduled all appointments, meetings, and events. I created to-do lists and wrote down every task for which I was responsible. Then, I prioritized these items as urgent, important, or any other designation I considered appropriate. Once completed, I checked them off and progressed through my list.
Applying the employee experience to small business ownership
Apparently, the time management practices that helped me succeed as an employee didn’t work for me as a small business owner. Sadly, I repeatedly scheduled activities that had little hope of helping me grow my business. When I received requests to donate my time for a worthy cause. As such, I found it difficult to say “no.” Undeniably, from a small business owner’s perspective, giving away my time was a costly and unrecoverable expense.
I also prioritized activities without consideration as to whether they would help me generate income. In other words, I managed my time like an employee with a lot of stuff to do rather than a small business owner who needed to manage his time carefully.
Time Management: Applying new rules
Eventually, I accepted that as a small business owner, I had to take responsibility for my time management practices. If I wasted time due to bad decisions, there was no one else to blame other than me. Now, I treat every decision about scheduling my time and tasks as a decision that could impact my business’s income. My new perspective drives me to think about this subject differently and apply new rules to increase my efficiency.
I believe a turnaround in time management begins with making smart decisions, then actively working to correct present deficiencies. For me, it started with accepting what I consider is the first rule of time management.
Rule #1 – Your time is more important than money
If you lose money, you can always make more. If you lose your time, it’s gone forever. There is nothing you can ever do to recover the time you’ve lost. Moreover, if you lose time in your business, you’re responsible for the loss. Acceptance of this rule forces you to take responsibility for your time.
An excellent resource on time management is the Small Business Administration’s participant guide on time management for small businesses. The PDF is available for download at no charge.
Next week, I’ll cover the second of five rules that have helped me make better decisions with regards to time management. Moreover, they’ve kept me on track as ThirdPartyBlogger.com continues to develop. I can’t guarantee they’ll help you, but I can attest they’ve certainly worked well for me.