The Alternative Board conducted a productivity survey of hundreds of entrepreneurs to discover how business owners are really spending their time. While 76% of business owners reported above average time management skills, 85% admit to working over 40 hours a week. Do these results mean that business owners are not admitting to their time management shortcomings? The answer, most likely is no. The hidden culprit is the productivity killers that business owners don’t even notice they’re wasting time on.
Today’s post seeks to unearth these time sucks and provide solutions for avoiding them. By making the actionable changes found below, business owners will be able to cut down the time spent working in their business, so they can devote more time to long term strategy, as well as their personal lives.
The Top 4 Business Owner's Biggest Time Wasters
Working below your pay grade.
A huge detriment to your productivity as an entrepreneur is wasting time on duties that can be outsourced – particularly day-to-day administration. These easily delegated tasks are very often what’s keeping you IN your business rather than allowing you to work ON it. With so many outsourcing and freelancing solutions available, hiring an assistant to take over these roles no longer requires a full time salary commitment. TAB Member Ron Loveland, CEO of Summit Business Solutions, recommends small business owners delegate administrative tasks to a virtual assistant (VA).
“When you go from doing everything yourself to affording an administrative person, there is a crucial step in-between,” says Loveland. “With a VA, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you have enough work for a person. They only charge you for hours worked, and if you go through a company like UpWork, they will take care of the W-9 form and any IRS reporting.”
TAB member Jay Eastland, Owner of Engineered Solutions of Georgia, advises that business owners devote their efforts to cultivating new strategic relationships, leading with vision, solving problems, and engaging with employees and customers. Otherwise, you’re wasting time, “running errands, writing checks, or trying to develop the website.”
TAB’s time management survey also revealed that business owners are spending almost 20% of their time on tasks that are urgent, but not important. Waiting for a crisis to address gaps in your business is a guaranteed path to working IN your business for extended periods at a time – these workplace interruptions are distracting you from precious long term planning.
One way to stay proactive is by ensuring you have a team in place for anticipated growth rather than hiring as you grow. “If you’re like most business owners, your organization has developed almost haphazardly. You’ve hired who you could when you could, usually in response to your most immediate capacity crisis – your most urgent need,” says Jeff Whittle, President of TAB Metro Dallas.” His solution? “Make hiring a priority – not a crisis. Ignore it, and you’ll end up with a jumble of ill-defined positions being filled by people not truly suited for the jobs they’ve been given. Get it right, and you add a new gear to help propel your business to the stratosphere.”
While technology may temporarily slow productivity as you and your team adjust to it, the long term benefits are indisputable. For example, the Alternative Board’s 2015 cloud survey proved that 95% of business owners rate their satisfaction with cloud technology at or above average. TAB Denver West President Blair Koch agrees “technology is crucial in our world today.” She recommends business owners adopt Dropbox for accessing important files, Streak for tracking email opens, Evernote for organizing customer notes, CamCard or Scannable for uploading business cards, and Salesforce.com for keeping track of customer relationships.
Poorly Managed Meetings
Unnecessary meetings are notorious time wasters in the business world. To improve meeting productivity, TAB Member Rick Maher, CEO of Effective Human Resources, suggests limiting meeting invites to those specifically involved in the topic of conversation. “The biggest mistakes leaders make when they hold a meeting, especially in a group setting, is they focus or discuss issues that only affect a small number of people. It leaves the rest of the team twiddling their thumbs, and the value of the meeting is lost rather quickly.” The Alternative Board UK’s Jo Clarkson adds, “If your meetings are valuable, well run, and achieve the planned outcome, people will make it their priority to turn up! Schedule regular meetings well in advance, so there's no rescheduling and no excuses."
Improving your productivity begins with identifying where you’re losing time.
Be honest with yourself and admit when you’re being stubborn and when you’re refusing to let go of the reins. If you can’t quite pinpoint where you’re losing time (but know you’re losing it), other business owners – who have been there and done that – can help. The Alternative Board puts you in touch with fellow business owners in non-competing industries who face the same challenges you do every day. Their experiences of overcoming obstacles very often hold the answers to your business’s biggest setbacks. Contact a local TAB board if you’d like to meet with other executives who can help you identify time wasters, boost productivity, and advance your business.