Starting up your own business is an immensely exciting prospect – finally, you have control over your own career and how you spend your days! If there’s one piece of advice we’re adamant that all first-time business owners need to hear, however, it’s manage your time effectively from day one.
The temptation when moving from a gruelling 9-5 to building your own company is to cram work into every hour of the day to speed up your business’ growth. After all, every business owner strives for growth, and it’s a healthy goal to have, but there are a few catches to letting time management get away with you in return for a quick growth spurt:
- Your work-life balance will suffer
- You’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed with new projects
- Being busy isn’t the same as being productive
All Work, No Play
No matter how much of a self-confessed workaholic you may be, maintaining a successful work-life balance is crucial to a long and happy existence – no matter what job you’re currently in. If your loved ones are starting to feel neglected, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll have to expend more energy simply firefighting to keep friends and family from being eternally frustrated.
What’s more, you’re more likely to then take negative personal life crises into the workplace, affecting your motivation, productivity and enthusiasm. At that point, it’s a matter of time before you fall out of love with the idea of running a business.
Stopping the Avalanche
It’s not just personal relationships that can be affected by poor time management – clients have feelings too. Living by a regime where you work from the moment you wake up until you go to bed from day one isn’t going to win you favour with new clients, who won’t have as much of your time or focus because there aren’t many available hours to properly service them left in your schedule.
Not having the time available when new clients come on can lead to two other problems: you’ll feel overwhelmed with projects that need to be worked on without any time to allocate to them, or you’ll end up having to reject work, limiting the growth of your company. Cue stressful hair-pulling and cancelled sleep just to fit everything in.
Busy vs Productive
Being busy and being productive are two entirely different things – and that’s where your time management journey should begin. Although you’ve got tasks filling every hour of the day, how much are you actually getting done? Are projects still being completed to deadlines? Do you end the day feeling like you’ve achieved plenty? If there was doubt around answering even one of those questions, then it’s a sure sign that your schedule needs a refresh, pronto.
‘So What Can I Do?’
Now let’s be realistic here: we’re not telling you to not work hard to grow your business, or that your existing schedule is necessarily a terrible thing. What we do suggest, however, is that you undertake a few tactics to take care of any time management issues from day one, leaving you to lead a successful life, both professionally and personally.
- Set a Schedule: From the off, set some key working times for yourself and stick to them. When a new client joins you, there’ll be space for you to extend your work hours accordingly
- Work to Strengths: If you’re lucky enough to be a morning person, schedule in tasks that require more thinking into the first half of your day – and vice versa if you’re a night owl. Listen to your own mind and work to your strengths
- Divide & Conquer: Split projects into smaller tasks and prioritise in order to tackle the most urgent work first
- The Deadline Rule: When offering clients an estimated date of delivery, take the date on which you know you can have it completed, and add a few days. This way, you can have it done on time (or earlier) whilst factoring in any urgent last minute additions to your to-do list
- Limit Emails: Try to limit reading your emails to a few minutes a day. If you’ve got work to send out, make use of a browser extension such as MixMax or Sidekick in order to schedule emails in advance for the next day
- Outsourcing is Your Friend: Some time-consuming tasks are miniscule and can be easily delegated to an outsourced freelancer, freeing up anything from minutes to hours a day
- Be Honest: When discussing delivery times with clients, be honest about how your schedule is looking – it’ll save on stress and disappointment
The great thing about these little time hacks is that you can implement them at any time – even if you’ve been up and running for a year, holding on by a stressful thread. If your day-to-day work schedule is getting you down, take control and make today Day One of a new regime; think of everything you could achieve in those extra hours!
Is accounting a timely task bogging down your schedule? There’s a solution for that! My Accountancy Place specialises in helping digital/creative businesses to thrive and minimise stress for their owners. Get in touch to discuss your new business’ requirements, and let’s free up some of your time!