Small-business owners have many demands on their time. Joe Reger and Roy Montague, who co-owned a business and are now SCORE volunteers, offer these tips on time management:
1. Prioritize. "There are always more tasks than we have the time to accomplish. We learned early that some are more important than others. Anything that had to do with satisfying a customer got our No. 1 priority."
2. Schedule. "Every Tuesday from 7:30 until 9 Joe reviewed sales and expense data. Also during that time employee issues were discussed and resolved. Roy set aside Friday at noon to meet with a customer or prospective customer over lunch."
3. Have a plan. "Roy said his mother did the wash on Mondays, did ironing on Tuesdays, cleaned the house on Wednesdays and shopped on Fridays. Same in business. Inventory was checked on Mondays, orders placed on Tuesday, customer follow-up on Wednesdays, etc."
4. Don't waste time. Resolve each issue when it is presented. Update files immediately so questions can be answered without searching the inbox. A one-sentence email can beat a 10-minute phone call.
5. Delegate. Employees are often more aware of day-to-day operations and can readily answer most questions. Where inventory is a part of the operations, the replenishment procedure can be delegated, as can shipping, invoicing and scheduling. Delegation not only frees up the owner, but allows the employee/associate to feel more important as a part of the company.
6. Assess how you are using your time. A simple matrix listing eight to 10 activities is useful to record the tasks you perform. After a week you'll have identified what's taking up your time. That should open the door to planning your time, delegating everyday tasks, scheduling your day and establishing priorities.
7. Be organized. There's a right place for everything and everything in its place. Self-discipline is needed. Having a plan and establishing priorities will improve your organizing skills.
8. Establish routines. Here's an opportunity to "get in a rut" and stay there. Having a routine for the ever-occurring elements of the business will allow you the time to address critical issues.
9. Use time management tools such as day planners. Advocates of day planners are now switching to apps on their smartphones. Write down your planned activities. Revisit that plan later to see if you did what you said you were going to do - or if not, why not.
Reger and Montague are available to share their successful business practices. Call Treasure Valley SCORE and make an appointment. There's no charge for their services.