Do you imagine being able to do more work if you were more caffeinated? With a couple of additional hours awake you could finish everything on your business, family and holiday to-do lists, right?
Many small business owners do all the work themselves—even more so among women business owners, as only 20 percent have employees. These women are spreading too thin. Maybe it’s time to start thinking: How do I give myself the Gift of Time?
You need to be dedicated to doing what you do best and find other people to do everything else. “Just me” is going to get you just so far. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s hiring a virtual assistant to help with bookkeeping. At some point, you have to let go. The gift of time truly comes when you go from being self-employed to being the CEO of your business and having a team of people to work with.
1. Stay organized. This seems easy enough, but organization can get thrown out of whack with added holiday chores. A good way to start the day is by writing in a journal with coffee or tea to clear your head. Get out whatever your worries may be first thing so you can think more clearly about your day and the tasks at hand. Then write your to-do list and prioritize. If you’re up at the crack of dawn, like some, it can help to complete certain tasks without interruption before the workday starts. For example, if social media is central to your marketing plan, start with this along with any emails left unanswered from the day before. After you prioritize the list, figure out how many items someone else can do and attend only to the items on your list that you are best at, that only you can do.
2. Avoid time wasters. The Internet makes it too easy to get lost on YouTube, online shopping sites and social media. Spending time on Facebook and Twitter are legitimate for your business to a point. It’s easy to get sucked into the celebrity side of social media, who’s dating who, etc. The best way to combat this is to block off an hour or two each day committed to promoting your business and interacting with your consumer base. The Internet can be the ultimate time waster if you let it, so stay disciplined.
3. Hire an assistant or intern. While it’s easy fall into worrying about the small things, maybe it’s time to hire an assistant to respond to email, take care of your social media, write out your holiday cards or even pick up a few gifts for family or clients. Is social media something that only you can do or could you relinquish control on it to focus more on your company’s growth? Decide if you need a full-time or part-time employee to complete these duties. Even hiring someone for five hours a week will ease some of your stress. And if that means getting additional time to focus on business growth, you may find that the investment really pays off.
While these are some tips that have helped me in my life and business, I’d love to know what you’ve found to be most helpful. Add your comment below.
And congratulations to Ann Cantrell (pictured above), owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store and a 2010 Newark M3 Finalist, who was recently named New York Magazine’s Pop Up Shop of the Week for her Pop Up Shop at 2408 Broadway in New York City.
Nell Merlino is the Founder and President of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources for women to grow their micro businesses into million $ enterprises. She is the creative force behind Take Our Daughters to Work Day and the author of Stepping Out of Line: Lessons for Women Who Want It Their Way in Life, in Love, and at Work.