If you are a successful small business owner, you are most likely handling an unlimited workload. What I mean is that the to-do list for most small business owners is never ending. You check one thing off and add five more. But it is important to note that there is a huge difference between working and getting stuff done. Many small business owners just tackle whatever tasks are in front of them rather than focusing on what actually matters in business. If you are handling an unlimited workload, here is how to manage it and actually get stuff done.
1. Are you working today?
I was at my in-laws house during the week recently for a wedding. My mother-in-law posed the question on a Wednesday morning, "So, are you working today?" I contemplated her question for a few seconds before answering and said, "Well, I could stop right now or work for the next 10-15 hours straight. I'll be done in about an hour."
Working in today's business world is so much different from what it was in the past; at least it is for me. I'm currently typing this article at 12:30 pm on a Saturday. The traditional schedule for the small business owner is no more, but this is very beneficial for so many reasons.
What I love most about owning a business is the flexibility. A flexible schedule allows me to remain happy and healthy and therefore extremely productive. Use flexibility to your advantage to become ultra-productive, just don't abuse it.
2. Setting boundaries
You need to be extremely strict with yourself to set boundaries in order to get things done. This means forming a plan every day, week, month, and year to stay on task. I start every day by looking over my calendar and my to-do list. I then make sure to stay on task all day and get things done. By filling gaps in my calendar with critical items off my to-do list, I accomplish important tasks all day long.
Additionally, I feel it is extremely important to work personal stuff into your calendar. Taking quick breaks can actually boost productivity. If going to the gym or going skiing is really important to you, make sure to work it in somehow. Making time for your personal life will keep you healthy, happy, and productive.
3. Prioritizing tasks
Understanding what you should be working on and prioritizing tasks is actually a huge one for me on this list. When you talk to most small business owners, they love to tell you how crazy it's been and how busy they are. Oftentimes I find that business owners are busy being busy, but they aren't getting things done that matter.
If your way of getting things done is to answer every phone call and constantly monitor your email, you are most likely not getting anything important done. Schedule checking email and voicemail for predetermined times during your day and put a time-limit on these tasks. Get good at scanning your email for important messages and responding to them or delegating those tasks. If you are the type who has to leave your email open all day, I'm willing to bet you are busy doing all the wrong things.
4. Focus on income-producing tasks
One way to prioritize your schedule or get things done that matter is to focus on income-producing tasks. This does not mean hitting every networking event or making cold calls. There are are a variety of income-producing tasks that you can take action on, but you need to understand what works for you and focus on that.
It may take some time to find the right fit of income-producing tasks. What works for one business owner won't necessarily work for you. For example, one of our main methods for producing new income is to create valuable content for our audience. For a business owner who doesn't understand inbound marketing, they might think that blogging is a complete waste of time, when in fact blogging can drive sales. The point is that you should understand what tasks produce income for your business and make sure the majority of your time is spent taking action on those tasks.
5. Build a kick-ass team and delegate
Building a strong team for your small business will really help you get things done. It is crucially important to hire the best people and put them in the right spots within your organization. It is also critical that they understand what their job is and what you expect them to accomplish.
Having a clear job description simply isn't enough if you expect peak performance. You should give each team member clearly written goals and outcomes that are measurable. For example, a goal of growing sales certainly is measurable, but it's not specific enough. A goal to grow sales by 30% over the next 12 months is more specific and can be measured. If you want to get things done, measure them and review them with the people responsible for accomplishing each goal.
Getting things done that have a real impact on your small business is a lot easier when you have a strong team around you, able to take on the tasks you delegate to them. Understand what tasks you should work on (i.e., numbers 3 and 4 above) and don't sway from them. When you are presented with a task that falls outside of the realm of what you need to focus on, either delegate it or dismiss it.
What advice do you have for getting things done in your business?