When you create your own company, the 9 to 5 is over. You can’t shut things down and head home when the clock strikes five. Most of your free time is signed away when you file your Articles of Incorporation. There’s no such thing as “business hours.”
At least…that’s how I’ve approached it.
But, despite working on my business around the clock, I’ve come to realize there will never be enough time. You’ll run out of time when refining a proposal. You’ll never get the chance to rehearse your next presentation as much as you would like. You’ll always want more time to review your company’s financials.
So, if there will never be enough time, how does one manage? How do you run your business and continue to grow? How do you battle the clock?
A More Focused Time Management Strategy for Entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur, for ten years, I’ve segmented my tasks and created two “buckets” of time. Quite simply, I have tasks that I accomplish during the day and those that I finalize at night. I try really hard to not mix up the two types of tasks. This approach doesn’t give me more time per se, but it does allow me to focus.
Daily Business Activities
As the co-owner of a video production company, I need to manage projects, coordinate with subcontractors and communicate with clients each day. There is no way around it, these activities have to be done during normal business hours. Here is a snapshot of high-level things I do every day, regardless of what is happening.
- Monitor Project Reports and Status: If you run a service-based business, projects are a part of the deal. Most project work is done during the day as employees interact and clients engage during the process. I make sure to stay in sync with our team throughout the day.
- Communicate with Clients: Communication is a key component to any successful project. It’s the building block to developing relationships. I make sure to reserve time in my day to have discussions with clients.
- Outreach to Potential Clients: Depending upon the size of your business, you may not be directly responsible for new business. However, I feel it’s important to have some time to engage potential clients. I make sure those who are interested in the company have information. I try to answer questions. I’ve found the only way to do this is to allocate a portion of my day to potential clients.
Nightly Business Activities
At night, I commit to tasks contributing to the growth of our company. I feel it’s important to keep up with the industry, follow trends and think about how our company can stand out in the world. Here’s a breakdown of different things that I do at night; not all of these tasks are done each and every night of course:
- Monitor Industry Trends: Twitter is great for getting real-time information. But, you can get lost on Twitter, too. Your time can shrink away. I typically hop on Twitter at night and checkout what’s going on. I’ll use lists and tools like Topsy to search for keywords. I’ll also use Zite, or some other aggregator, to read my favorite blogs.
- Review Financial Data: I try to review the company’s financials on a regular basis. With a quiet atmosphere, I have the ability to really dig deep into financial trends, etc. I can focus on how we’re performing and identify areas for improvement. I can get a sense of what types of projects are profitable and which ones create more challenges.
- View Website Analytics: It is important to review, and understand, website analytics data. I reserve time in the evenings to review data, identify what is working and what is not. Then I build a list of action items. I always try to find a way to improve how we communicate online.
- Review Marketing Campaigns: It’s a good idea to review marketing metrics on a monthly basis. We usually develop a monthly report that provides a snapshot of the company’s performance. I believe that it takes quiet time to really analyze the data. If you review this information during the day, you may not uncover opportunities.
- Maintain a Long-term Strategy List: Checklists aren’t just for daily activities. After reviewing information like trends, website analytics and marketing data, it’s important to take action. So, I maintain a long-term list of things crucial to our company’s growth. In many cases, action items are turned into internal projects or are folded into the company’s marketing plan.
What Sparked this Approach to Time Management?
I’d like to say that this approach to managing time was deliberate. I’d like to tell you that it is part of my secret sauce. But the truth is — it is the only way I’ve been able to work.
When I started the company with my business partner, I had a full-time job. Due to my day-to-day responsibilities, I had to focus on growing our small business at night. In the beginning, I didn’t really have a choice. It was the only time I had available.
When I made the leap and quit my day job, I was faced with another challenge. I had my first child. After that, the only quiet time I had available to focus on business growth was when my wife and little one were fast asleep. My wife is an early bird, so she often gives me a swift kick in the morning and helps me start my day.
Several years later, I still use this same approach. I manage projects and aim to exceed client expectations every day. Then, after I’ve spent time with family and the world has slowed down, I commit to business growth and finding business opportunities for the future.
Ultimately, each business owner has different time constraints. If it’s not a new born child or family obligations, there will be other obstacles. Unless you know something that I don’t, there will never be more than 24 hours in a day. Just remember, it’s important to be able to segment your work and find quiet time to think about the future.
Tristan Pelligrino is the co-owner and Marketing Director of 522 Productions, LLC, a Washington, DC-based video production company. The firm specializes in creating powerful videos that help clients grow their companies. Tristan enjoys telling stories that have an impact on the world.
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