Business owners know the drill: put out operational fires as soon as possible—because it’s only a matter of time that another appears! According to a survey conducted by Constant Contact, a leader in email marketing for small businesses, small business owners wear many hats (okay, that’s no surprise). Due to the countless hats, entrepreneurs tend to follow a deadly pattern known as “short term-ism”. 63 percent of those surveyed by Constant Contact admit to only strategically planning a year in advance. It’s due to that sensation of bobbing and weaving daily fires that an entrepreneur has little time to plan further than 12 months.
"Business owners are missing the biggest opportunity
when little time is set aside to plan for the long-term."
Reacting to daily operations, employee questions, and client hiccups means more attention drawn away. You’re only focusing on the challenges or hardships at the moment—instead of the exciting product developments to plan, research your industry’s evolving needs, or continuing fostering client relationships.
What’s a business owner to do?
It’s time to Plan. With a capital “P”. Like the saying goes, “Prepare to plan, or prepare to fail”, planning for small business owners saves time, energy, and could mean growth for your company. Lay out your long-term goals. Write them down and begin to set aside time to review your progress and make appropriate changes. What’s best is creating a quarterly and/or monthly session to review, a weekly session, and a daily space of time to focus on your long-term plans.
- Decide what your top 3 priorities are for the next 4 weeks
- Set and define what the metrics are for the top priorities
- Review your strategies and compare how you fared to months or weeks prior
- Select a project for the week
- Make sure the project aligns with your long-term initiative
- Immediately review your time constrictions and availability
- Carve out time in which you can work on the project of the week
- For your Week’s project, do 3 tasks that will contribute the completion of the Week’s project
- Be sure to do specific tasks, like cold-calling a potential client or taking a marketing class
Of the 22 percent of small business owners surveyed, lack of time to complete tasks was the single biggest challenge. Time is a precious commodity for business owners. It’s best to think about how entrepreneurs can leverage resources to save time. While you’re able to focus on long-term results, think of ways to save day-to-day resources.
This word may make you internally groan, but nearly 70 percent of small business owners use some form of automation to run their company. It can be as simple as a setting up a bot to respond to the most common questions sent by customers, or creating a HootSuite account to send out scheduled Tweets for your company account. Begin to think of personal tasks that you outsource to. Ask your team to think about which tasks seem to be sucking up their day. Follow up by suggesting they research whether there’s a software or browser plug-in that can take support them save time.
By 2020, 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be freelancers. Most business owners will be faced with how to manage freelancers in the near-future. Hiring a freelancer saves time as they get right to work with a specific task and/or project. If you especially are looking for a niche skill, there are countless platforms (Upwork, Fiverr, Behance, Task Rabbit), that match freelancers and employers. Employers looking into expanding new markets will save significant funds and energy by simply hiring a freelancer at the beginning stages to research and/or to advise them on the new market. It can be made with a finite money and time budget from the start. Hiring freelancers will save you time as they are the subject-experts in their field, allowing you to focus on running your business.
Keep focusing on what actions and tasks you can do to focus on long-term growth of your company. Saving time now is the most effective means to this particular end. No more fires, just the promise of a bright future.