You signed up to be a business owner! But you didn’t major in bookkeeping in college, or marketing. Payroll or scheduling is always stressful, and you don’t look forward to inventory day. What can you do to spend more time on what you love about your business?
Now that you’ve been in business for a while, you probably spend a lot of time things you don’t like doing. Like resolving problems between employees. Customer service issues. And managing the mountain of business-related paperwork that never seems to get smaller. But what you really need to do is get to the grocery store. And your kids have been begging for one-on-one time.
Owning a business is stressful. Many business owners find out that they don’t have the time to do what they truly love about the business. Or, at least, not what they hoped they’d be doing as a business owner. Here are 5 ways to spend more time on what you love about your business.
1. Use scheduling tools.
The beauty of tools such as Facebook and Hootsuite is that you can write something now and get it ready to post days, weeks or months in advance. Do what you can when you have time, and these tools will let you skip days when you don’t.
2. Hire out what you love least.
If you’re constantly stressed about bookkeeping, or blog post writing, find a professional to do those things for you. The more stressed you are about the big things that you really don’t like doing, the less time and energy you have for the little things. Businesses big and small have professional service providers. You can too.
3. Give yourself permission to say no.
Your friends, or your kid’s school, may think that because you are a business owner, you have employees to manage everything for you. They may truly not realize how busy you are. When you get asked to do things like help out with the school’s holiday party or coach little league, there’s no need to recite a list of everything you’re already doing.
Train yourself to say something like, “That sounds fun, I’m sorry I can’t help.” Or, “I’d like to, but my schedule is full.” Resist the urge to say, “ask me next time,” because that’s setting yourself up for a similar question next week. Instead, ask for a calendar of events they need help for so you can sign up in advance. Or tell them what you can do. Say, “I have time on Monday afternoons, so if you need any help on those days, let me know.”
The more you practice this, the easier it gets!
4. Give your employees permission to make decisions.
Since I’ve worked in marketing and also writing articles for so many years, I have had a lot of experiences with small business owners who missed out on being interviewed by our town’s newspaper or magazine simply because they weren’t around, and no one else could speak for them.
You can’t be on call or in the office every hour of every day. Designate one of your employees to speak to the press on your behalf. A trusted employee can handle problems as they arise, so if you aren’t reachable your employees can still make progress.
I’ve met business owners who set aside Wednesdays as personal days, and refused to answer their phone or email at that time. There’s no harm in doing this, and in fact this may be a good way to preserve your sanity. But do empower your employees to move forward even if you can’t be reached.
5. Focus on what you did do, not what you should have done.
Set your agenda for the day, but leave some wiggle room for the unexpected things that come up. I am a list maker. I have found that I continually put about 3 times as many items on my daily to-do list as I can reasonably accomplish. I’m stressed when it’s the end of the day and I still have incomplete tasks.
I have found that simply keeping things reasonable helps so much. Write down the most important items, and hold a couple back. If you find that you have more time, you can always add them. And at the end of the day, look at what you did, and praise yourself. That’s a lot more pleasant than looking at what you didn’t do and feeling upset.