A small business often begins as a one person operation. Once the initial new business enthusiasm wears off, the reality of the task ahead may seem overwhelming. With most clients in this situation two things need to be addressed, prioritization and time management.
A standard time management system has proven, in my experience, not to be the solution needed. By working with many small business owners I developed a new system which, although a little unorthodox, produces much better results. The following is an outline of my system:
- Assuming that you had an unlimited budget and could hire all the people needed to successfully grow this company, how many would you need and what are those jobs?
- Developing the job lists is the important part of the first question. Once the job list is complete they are broken down into three categories: internal operations, external operations, and miscellaneous necessary duties.
- Items that fall into each category include:
- Internal operations
ii. Budget preparation
iii. Office systems
iv. Product/service delivery systems
v. Business planning
- External operations
ii. Customer follow-up
iii. Customer retention
iv. Marketing plans
- Miscellaneous duties
i. Janitorial work
ii. Purchasing office supplies
- The lists in each of the three categories normally are much longer than the examples I show here. The next step is to prioritize each of the three lists according to the contribution that each item on the list makes towards the company dollar.
- Once each list is prioritized, the time necessary (on a weekly basis) necessary to accomplish that task is put next to that number. Many times, once all the times are added together, the results will require more than a weeks’ worth of time.
- Since there normally is only one person to do all this work, two choices exist. One is to cut off the bottom item on each list until the time remaining fills a week, or, second, to assign those bottom tasks in each category to someone else. One or a combination of those choices is decided upon and implemented.
- The result of the exercise is a three legged tripod. All three legs are necessary to hold up the company. but now a time management system has been identified and work has been prioritized.
There is a lot more to this exercise. I have conducted this same exercise with existing companies that have employees but encountered the same basic problems that a new owner has.
In essence we ended up creating a new business plan without all the formalities of a business plan structure.
Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way. Booker T. Washington
Nick J. Petra CFP Reach me at www.strategicduck.com if you would like to implement this program
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