By Tommy Mello, Owner A1 Garage Doors
The No. 1 business problem that actually affects entrepreneurs is a very personal one. I'm talking about time management. Think about this: You have only 24 hours in the day. If you're spending your time on tasks that don't actually add to the bottom line -- even if they just take around five minutes to complete -- then you are effectively just a cost to your business.
So, how can you start managing your time better? Well, real time management will never work without accountability. It starts with you being accountable to yourself. Then you start becoming accountable to others. That's how you create massive results both as an entrepreneur and business leader.
I can speak first-hand to that, as I used to be overwhelmed when juggling a million different things, when I should have been focusing on rallying the team and closing bigger sales instead -- doing things that would create the most impact for my business. As the owner, it's incredibly tempting to try and fix every single problem in your business. But that will never be the best use of your time and strengths.
Use Your Calendar as Your Compass
A well-thought-out calendar will help guide you through the day. It sounds simple, but it really isn't. You need a framework to organize everything you do on a daily basis, and a calendar is the best place to start. If you have a busy day, a quick look at your calendar will help you focus on the actual work you need to get done. I use Google Calendar since it works well with my phone and I use Gmail frequently. I block time off so that I can do my most important work first and other tasks later.
Hire an Assistant to 'Police' Your Calendar
It's tough to run a business and make sure it's making money, let alone dealing with all the different tasks. That's why you need an assistant to help manage your schedule. Knowing your daily schedule -- and every single detail in it -- is half the battle, and having one other person to oversee it is so helpful. It won't cost much to hire a good assistant (virtual assistants are more affordable).
To attract the best assistants, make sure your job post is as compelling as possible. It has to sound just like an ad. This sounds obvious, but most employers don't bother going the extra mile. I recommend using what I call the Blue Sky Technique -- that is, painting a picture of how great your workplace is and how much better you are than your competitors.
My assistant keeps me on task. Sometimes I don't even realize that my meetings run late as I get talking. A simple nudge from her, say a quick email or text, is a great reminder to stay on track and move on to the next thing in my calendar.
Wear Fewer Hats
You cannot wear every hat within your business. You cannot be the accountant, the marketer and the salesperson all at the same time. You need to be working on what you're best at, which is what your business really needs. To do that, you need to delegate. And to be clear, delegation does not mean dumping tasks on your employees. Set clear expectations and instructions so that they are doing the work correctly. It might take more time training up front, but it will save you headaches down the line.
When I was starting out, I delegated without thinking about who would be best-suited for the work at hand. As a result, people were confused and frustrated about their roles and that hurt my team's productivity. Now, to delegate well, I use an organizational chart so that my managers and I always know the other employees' roles clearly, which helps make sure the right kind of work gets delegated to the right people.
Tommy Mello is Owner A1 Garage Doors, a $25M+ home service business.