What employee do you need to hire today?

Even if you are among the smallest of the small businesses out there and you, as an owner, represent the entire staff, what are you going to do when you "clock in" today?

How about this - how do you know what to do?  Schedulers?  Post-it notes?  Wild guess?

I'm not really into the business of giving out tips, but if you are not using an all-encompassing software to integrate and sync your schedule, then you might be losing time.  Most of these are free and they can allow you to keep track of everything in one place and then access that from your computer, phone, or tablet.

Here's why you need it:  As an entrepreneur, your time is valuable and you don't place enough value on it.  You get sucked into time-consuming conversations that don't result in closed sales, you get pulled into projects fraught with scope creep, and frankly, you don't charge enough for the services that you provide.

So why is it that we see, time and time again, small business owners running around like the bull in the proverbial china shop unable to focus on one task to accomplish?

They never built any fences.

In other words, they have never drawn a line on their schedule for the day and said they are simply going to do specific tasks within that time.

Think of an author or writer - they cannot dodge the bullet of production - if they don't apply pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), then the book doesn't get written.  The good ones have rules for production in their day and so should you.

You did not disturb Hemingway before noon on Monday through Friday - he was in his office, writing the books that made the lifestyle possible.

You, as an owner, are trying to run the post office, scurry into the grocery store, take the homework to the kid that forgot it, and grow a business, all in the same hour.  You make excuses to your clients, you try to close sales on a poor mobile connection sitting in traffic, and you are sitting on the couch at midnight trying to write proposals while you "spend time" with your spouse.

Build some fences, young grasshopper.

If you expect to grow your business, you need to be plotting out your schedules days in advance.  Until you get that most basic of steps orchestrated, you can never get to the critical steps that I outline in any one of dozens of books.

In other words, if you haven't outlined the tactics and techniques that YOU use in your business, you can never hope to train that to anyone else to take the burden for any of the business on and help you.  As the owner and ultimately, leader, of your company, these first cursory bits of task organization fall on you and the success - or failure - of these will be critical to being able to streamline your own production in each phase of business:  Lead generation, client acquisition, and client fulfillment.

Build your fences now and build them quickly.  You can always make changes, but no one ever built a house without a foundation.

Published on: Nov 27, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.