Time management often crops up as an issue for business people. They say “I just don’t have enough time to get everything done”. They complain of trying to do everything and getting staff to help.
Good time management in theory is simple. It’s about having a clear understanding of what stuff needs to get done, in a given time frame and prioritizing objectives and actions.
The best way to prioritise is to look at it from the perspective of the ‘Five Key Areas of Business’:
- The products and/or services you sell
- How you market and sell
- How you operate and finance your business
- How you manage staff
- How you manage customer service
Let’s discuss each and ways to be most effective.
The products and/or services you sell.
What is it … that you offer to the market … that solves a problem or creates a benefit? By having a clear understanding, you can then articulate it and document it, so others e.g. staff can understand. They can then provide input into how it can be delivered effectively and improved.
- Getting knowledge out of your head and into a documented system saves time.
- You don’t have to repeat things – you can point to the system for guidance.
- A system has the benefit of increasing business value, as everything isn’t in your head.
How you market and sell
Once you have a clear picture of how it benefits customers, you need to articulate the benefit and create interest. The key issue here is what is the best means of reaching your market i.e. ask yourself “Where do my customers hang out?” For example the aged market are reading newspapers, whereas the youth market spend most of their time online, so you need to market appropriately to each. There are systems available for handling marketing automation of your digital marketing and getting messages out via social media and driving traffic to your website.
Once you’ve got interest from a customer you need them to buy. Some sales are immediate e.g. retail, whilst some take longer e.g. a service or project. Consider what’s involved in the process and document it, so others can perform some or all of it. There are cost effective systems to help you systemize the process and improve sales conversion rates.
How you operate and finance your business
Once you’ve made a sale, how are you going to deliver to your customer? A documented system helps you and staff get it right consistently. This saves time and money, avoiding rework and returned goods. A system creates efficiencies in the time taken to get jobs done, allowing more work to be done and better profit and staff satisfaction. Systems are available –in the cloud – that provide a framework for systemising operations in many different industries.
Financing business is one of the biggest area of stress. Cash flow is often a ‘pain point’. Having a thought out finance plan is critical. Some key numbers to manage are:
- The direct cost of your product or service i.e. what it costs to get it ready for sale
- The right price to charge to be profitable, whilst remaining competitive
- Price increase or decrease – keeping your price right to maintain a profit and understanding the impact of discounting on profit.
- Overheads e.g. rent, wages, IT costs, etc.
- Number of days customers take to pay
- Number of days to pay suppliers
- Number of days stock sits on the shelf pre-sale
- Number of days jobs/projects are in progress pre invoicing
How you manage staff
A system to proactively manage staff saves stress. Many businesses struggle to attract the right staff. You have to be an ‘employer of choice’. You need to project a professional image and hire, manage and fire people properly. It starts with job descriptions, so everyone knows what’s expected. Proactive HR management helps to improve staff motivation. There are HR management systems available that guide you through the process and to be compliant. This helps to avoid unhappy staff and unfair dismissal claims.
How you manage customer service
Last but not least are your customers. You need to look after them well, so they will not only come back and buy, but refer you to others. This is more critical than ever due to internet based feedback via sites such as Tripadvisor. You need a system for looking after customers’ experience to ensure it is consistently good. This saves time and money dealing with complaints and customers who refuse to pay – plus marketing required to get more new customers to replace the unhappy ones.