By James Nicholson-Smith, Business Development Director & Managing Principal, West Midlands Region, The FD Centre

Over the last year many businesses have cut costs and as a result entrepreneurs have been ‘sucked back into’ the business rather than ‘working on’ the business. How many times have you found yourself saying things like “I am working harder than ever, just to stand still”?

Stephen Covey is the leading specialist in time management and has written numerous books to help busy entrepreneurs to allocate their time to maximum value. Use the checklist below to help entrepreneurs, like yourself, to get organised and start looking at growing your businesses again:-

 Do you actually have a plan? Winston Churchill said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Entrepreneurs are wise to remember this and dust off that old business plan from 2-3 years ago and revise it for use now. If this is not done then matters that have huge strategic importance to the business, never even appear in the “to do” list and opportunities pass by like ships in the night.

 Consider your goals very, very clearly. Covey recommends that entrepreneurs need a compass and a clock. The compass verifies you are going in the right direction and the clock helps you to allocate your time.

 Urgent matters that are critically important to the business and really need to be DONE RIGHT NOW are the highest priority in your to do list. Important matters can be both operational and strategic but must have a significant impact on the business and its ability to achieve its goals. Many business owners confuse these matters with items that are important and urgent personally and there is a real distinction.

 Important matters are critical to the business’s success but DO NOT need to be done immediately. These need to be planned into your diary and must be done when you say you are going to do them. If they are not done on time, they will become urgent quickly.

 Urgent and unimportant matters are typically demanded by those that shout loudest. The noise is sometimes deafening but in the end the business owner should always look to delegate these to other members of the team to deal with. The owners needs to focus on matters that are really important to the business.

 Finally, unimportant matters that are not urgent but you like doing are a major distraction for entrepreneurs. Email has exacerbated the drag on time for owners in this area because it’s hard to know what is important and what isn’t before you spend 2 hours going through all the emails you have been copied into.

For many entrepreneurs the issue is not understanding the importance of matters but having the resources to delegate matters to.

The use of part time resources in an early stage business is a really benefit especially when this also provides niche skills and experience. Part time Finance Directors are a great example because many entrepreneurs spend hours or even days struggling to deal with important financial matters when an experienced finance director does a much better job in a fraction of the time.

Entrepreneurs should make a conscious effort to value the time they spend in their business and not to consider it as a free resource.

If you would like to find out how you can free your time on the things that really matter, speak to our team. Our Free Financial Health Check can help you to unlock the potential in your business. Details can be found on our website: www.thefdcentre.co.uk

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