The Silent Business Killer: Time
We are all victims of time.
None of us has enough of it. All of us have squandered it. For each of us, the stakes are high - regardless of whom we are, or where we are from - because it is literally all any of us really have.
Even more so, if you are in business. There is never, ever enough time. All too often the choice is between time and money - and, invariably, there is never enough money, either.
If you own a micro-business, you spend 18-hour days thinking, planning, doing whatever business-related tasks you do, and whatever else you need to do to keep life, limb and the mortgage together. Not to mention those pesky quarterly and annual filings to the multitude of governmental entities to which you are obliged to report your financial and business activities.
If your business has grown into a “small” business, it’s much the same except it is likely that you now have non-family employees. Employees that must be hired, managed and led - and, of course - labor laws that must be followed and the inevitable increased governmental paperwork. Additionally, you now likely offer employee benefits to attract new employees and retain the hard workers you already have. All of these benefits must be negotiated and administered, either by you or through some vendor.
With this increased growth, comes the increased need for increasing your sales funnel. You have a marketing plan that proactively seeks to develop your brand to draw increased business into your orbit. Perhaps, you have a sales force or business development unit that actively seeks contracts from other businesses and governmental agencies.
If you have partners or investors, you have even more headaches. Your business relationship with both groups must be negotiated and managed on a continuous basis. Both - whether their contribution to your business is invested time or supporting capital - expect a return on their investment.
As a bona fide business, you now, too, have businesses and sales people contacting you offering you various goods and support services. At the present, only a very small percentage of these are of actual interest to you. All must be screened, or at the very least screened out.
And - always - there is competition.
You are on an endless treadmill, and business failure seems to be always lurking just around the corner, patiently waiting to strike at some unsuspected moment.
What can you do?
Bad news first: that’s the way it is. Get used to it.
Good news last: there are ways to make the pain manageable and less frequent.
More bad news: it requires an investment of time, and more important, self-discipline. There are no miracle cures, here.
While a micro-business may have a greatly reduced decision-making process in relationship to larger enterprises, this does not imply either effectiveness or efficiency.
As humans, we are often the worst observers of our own work habits. It is the very fortunate individual, indeed, who is not blind to at least some significant portion of their own work habits and ways of doing things, without some form of outside reference to aid them. We do things in a particular way because they succeeded in solving some problem of ours in the past.
Making the move from micro-business doesn't change the basic human inclination toward patterned behavior. A small business owner will continue to act as they did when they ran a micro-business - and a large business owner will continue to act as they did when they ran a small business - until such time as they consciously make a modification. Often that single modification is insufficient to solve the new, more complex problem, and so a series of modifications are necessary.
In the meantime, time slips quietly by.
So what, then, is this secret method for saving time? It’s not so secret: cultivating good work habits and management skills, now, while your business is still small. Not waiting until later.
More on this subject to follow.
© Mark Lefcowitz 2014 -- 2015
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Small Business Transition Blog
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