You've probably heard bosses, parents and peers say it time and time again, 'Time is money, let's get moving.' For some, it's difficult to equate the intangible concept of time to the concrete touch and feel of the almighty dollar bill. But this simple phrase, when taken at its word, just may be the answer to your financial woes.
As a business coach there are many things I explore with clients when their profits are not where we want them to be, but the first is time management. Solopreneurs, especially those who are tight on funds, can get lost in a self-limiting loop, thinking that they must be available to everyone all of the time and that their time does not have a monetary value. If you believe that you must be everything to everyone in order to get the next job, sell the next product, be the perfect parent (spouse, friend, boss, etcetera) or feel - and be viewed as - successful, then it's likely that you are in that endless loop and running low on steam.
Here's a little quiz. Read these true/false statements and see if you've fallen into the time management trap. Avoiding these traps with simple 'rules' to live and work by will help you to increase profits and feel better physically and mentally. Who doesn't want that?
True or False?
When I am courting a prospect I make myself available to them 24/7. I take them out to lunch, meet them for coffee or drop by their office when a phone call might achieve the same results.
- I give away a lot of my products, services and/or time to convince a prospect to buy.
- I will often break my own rules and take risks that could lead to not being paid on time – or at all.
- I run errands, do housework or take personal phone calls during my 'work day'.
- I get easily distracted on the internet and am taken off-task at least once a day.
- I answer phones, read email and attempt to complete my projects all at the same time.
- When I get a new idea I drop what I'm doing to explore every angle of that idea.
- I rarely assign blocks of time or schedule my tasks/goals. I just do them as I see fit – or when I can squeeze them in.
- I spend a lot of time and resources to close a sale and I don't keep track of the cost (including my time).
- I feel guilty if I don't answer the phone when my mother or best friend calls during my work day, so I take the call and feel preoccupied the whole time.
- I will drop everything if the opportunity for lunch with a friend or a fun outing presents itself.
- I do everything myself because it's faster than explaining it to my virtual assistant, intern or freelancer.
- I don't bother with self-imposed deadlines because I can never meet them anyway.
- I do all of my own administrative and bookkeeping work because I could never afford someone to do it for me.
- I have two or more revenue-generating ideas that I feel very confident about but can never find the time to implement or explore.
- I don't have time to make 'to-do' lists, they never get completed anyway.
- I often spend time exploring my new ideas but rarely take the time to implement them.
- I go to networking events but rarely find the time to follow up with the people I meet.
How many of these time management traps are true to you? We all fall into them from time to time, but if many of these statements describe your typical day, you are probably flushing potential profits down the drain. Track your activities for three to five days. Keep a notebook at your side and list what you do. It may seem like a tedious task but when you see it in black and white you will be amazed at where your time goes - and hopefully motivated to change your habits. As a business owner your time is worth a lot of money – and a lot of it! Is it best spent running errands, allowing distractions, daydreaming about your next million-dollar idea (without doing anything about it) and doing $25 per hour work? Do what you know best and leave the rest to others. Respect your work time rather than running errands and doing housework. If you are productive during your work day you will have more time to do those things during your off hours – or better yet, you will have more money to hire someone to do them for you!
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.