Beat the ‘So much to do, so little time’ Syndrome.
You’re run off your feet, working 16-hour days, six or even seven days a week and one of your former business colleagues appears at the door of your start-up.
You can see her raise an eyebrow at the frantic scene, so do you:
- Hastily throw piles of papers under the counter in the hope she won’t notice them;
- Wave over the only member of staff you can see and say, “I have vital business to attend to – make sure nothing goes wrong!”;
- Step straight out the door with her heading for a beer or a latte, or preferably both?
The correct answer is none of the above – and here’s why . . .
The truth about time management
Whether you buy a franchise or start up your own business, you should be an owner-operator – not just an owner-manager. You gave up your good corporate, middle-management job for the thrill of running your own show but the trade-off is that you have to put in the time and the sweat equity to see the results.
Your results will be directly proportional to your input and the more skills you have to get you off the starting blocks the better. That’s why we advise new Cash Converters franchisees that they need previous business experience to teach them to set and carry out priorities in a disciplined way without getting side-tracked or spending all their time firefighting.
Your business and life-skills will be a strong foundation when you’re starting out because you discover pretty fast that there’s simply so much to do with relatively few resources. That means you must make wise and prompt decisions.
Your Number 1 priority
At the beginning, your focus is all on getting the ball rolling in your business and building on that momentum. Your prize will be a lifestyle in excess of your current lifestyle – but it will take you about two years.
To reach there, your Number 1 priority must be the front end of the business. Every time you stop to catch your breath, ask yourself: “How can I build sales fast enough to create the cashflow I need to pay my bills?”
Everything else is secondary to creating and sustaining that sales-cashflow cycle.
Fortunately, putting 100% of your working hours into a business means you become as efficient as possible at every step of the process of achieving a retail sale, for instance. That doesn’t mean you can do everything – you have to make choices.
One of my favourite business quotations actually comes from a speech more than 60 years ago to the World Council of Churches. It has a great pedigree, too. It was used by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was quoting the president of the USA’s Northwestern University.
Explaining how he organised his workload and priorities, Eisenhower said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
Every time you’re presented with something urgent, stop and check – most times you’ll find it’s benefitting someone else and not you or your business. For you, the most important things may well be the most difficult or the least pleasant – from disciplining a staff member to completing your tax return. To crack the time-management puzzle, you need to learn to recognise important tasks because they have the most significant impact on you reaching your business goals.