TIPS ON TACKLING YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE - TIME
February 26 2014.


How many times have you poured cold water on those flashes of genius on how you can look to develop a great business idea with the line “If only I had the time”?


A recent member survey by national business organisation the Forum of Private Business revealed that despite a positive outlook for the year ahead, 36% of small businesses in total believe that time will continue to be a major challenge as they look to manage their business and realise their growth plans in the next 12 months, ahead of money and expertise.

The findings were no different from those of countless other business polls that continue to suggest that while the UK's small and medium-sized businesses are focused on keeping customers and winning new business, all too often many business owners and senior managers are drawn into operational aspects of the business such as HR, IT, finance and training.

As Jo Eccles, business adviser at the Forum of Private Business explains: “For the owners of very small businesses, this may not be through choice. a PA is out of the question and they have to wear more than one professional hat.

“There may be apps, courses, in fact an entire industry has been built up in the search for the key to better time management, but there are a few practical steps a time-poor business owner can take to ensure they get the most out their time.”

You can’t do everything ... time to relinquish control
While control freak is the last thing you might call yourself, no one can deny that it can be difficult to admit that the business is growing and you might need some help, but failure to do this could actually hinder your business in the long-term.

A good starting point is to identify the areas where you can bring the most to the business and allow others to be responsible for managing the rest.

If you have employees or partners, this may mean delegating responsibility to them. This may be difficult if you see your business as your ‘baby', but trusting others to help you can free up your time to get on with growing the business.

If you work alone or don't have sufficient expertise in-house, it may be more cost and time-effective to outsource rather than employ someone or struggle on alone.

Given the choice, 30% of small business leaders would choose to outsource IT services, but many are still resistant to the idea of outsourcing other parts of their business, such as HR, training and financial management.

If you're finding it hard to trust parts of your business to someone you don't know, try to get recommendations from friends and business contacts of people they use and trust.

Focus on growth
Unsurprisingly, growing business and winning new business continue to be the biggest priority for UK SMEs, particularly as they look to take advantage of the opportunities of the recovery this year. As the business owner it is up to you to concentrate on plans to keep customers and find new ones.

Often this means taking a step back and reappraising where the value lies in your business. Set aside more time for activities that deliver a return on the investment of your time and money.

Plan
To stop yourself from being overwhelmed and spreading yourself too thinly, break down projects into more manageable tasks that you can prioritise and set timescales and goals for.

Reduce distractions
To get more from your time, you have to learn to be unavailable sometimes. Turn your phone and other devices off and only access your email at certain times of the day.


If your staff always turn to you when there is the slightest problem, you should encourage them to come up with some options themselves which they can discuss with you. Support them in their choice and be ready to do it again until they are confident in making decisions by themselves.

If colleagues cause interruptions, learn to feel OK about telling them you are busy and explain its importance to the business, or give them a time when it is convenient to come back.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to time management. We choose to do the things that we feel comfortable doing, so we procrastinate about the more challenging things. Ask yourself why you're procrastinating; what's the worst that can happen if you do it and the worst if you don't? If you don't feel confident in a certain area of business, perhaps source training, or get advice from someone with the required skills.

Further hints and tips and useful information on time management and a variety of other business topics can be found on the Forum’s website at  www.fpb.org