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Monday, March 18, 2013

Small Business (Time) Management

by Michael Barry

There is a theory glazed over in every freshman economics course on the way to supply side economics and demand side – I’ve already lost you. Economics might not be your cup of tea, but the theory is worth a listen. It goes a little something like this: Should Tiger Woods mow his own lawn? That’s it. The answer is an easy one. No. He has people for that. He should be golfing. The term for that is called opportunity cost. Why is there even a theory about that? Time management is why.

Investopedia defines opportunity cost as:
The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.

In terms of your small business, opportunity cost refers directly to the actions you perform every day that take away from what you do best – managing your business. Here are a couple quick tips to manage your time so you can get back to work.

How Do You Spend Your Time

Time is money. Wasting time is wasting money. Plain and simple. The killers of time are well known too. Whether it’s fantasy football, Facebook, or searching for that new diet, all the time you click off the clock is time you’ll wish you had later. Future you will work hard, but she’d rather it wasn’t because past you had no discipline.

Track Everything

Make a budget of the time you spend each day, each week. Keep a list, a spreadsheet, write it in the margins of last months expense report. I don’t care where you write it, but get it down on paper. The same way money disappears at Target when you go in to buy “just one thing”, time disappears when you take “just one minute” to check Twitter. By writing down what time you spend doing what tasks each day you’ll be able to see where time is going. Making the change in how you spend that time is the difficult task.

You Have a Staff – Let Them Earn Their Pay

Maybe you read that last paragraph and said “I don’t waste time on social media” but time still escapes you. I have one question for you. How much time do you spend answering phones and replying to email? These mundane tasks are productivity arsenic. Your receptionist is there for a reason. She knows the phones and your day-to-day business like the back of both hands. You are the boss man, the oracle. Be there for the big things and swing in for handshakes and phone calls when needed. You don’t see restaurant managers waiting tables. They check in and move on, confident their staff is top notch. You have more important tasks to be doing. When you consistently spend time doing mundane tasks it become second nature to start there. The same goes for the converse. Your opportunity costs are clear. Be an innovator. The big picture awaits you.

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