How to keep productive as a small business owner/manager

Entrepreneur Mark Asquith discusses how small company leaders can hone their navigational skills.

Running a successful business requires excellent plate spinning and navigational skills. In the early days, self-employment is all about turning your hand to every aspect of the business.

One minute you’re juggling invoices, the next you’re thinking up marketing strategies. In between you’re trying to simply do whatever it is you do and keep your customers and clients happy.

As a business grows, the challenges increasingly revolve around staffing, legislation, compliance and turning a year on year profit. The day-to-day challenges may have evolved in their size and complexity but the key to success at every level of business is most definitely about remaining productive.

So what’s the best way to keep productive as an owner/manager? I believe it’s all too easy to take your eye off the ball and become immersed in day to day running of the business. Similarly, it’s all too easy to go off on a tangent and lose sight of original goals and objectives.

Basically, the path we tread as owner/managers is narrow and can be hard to navigate. There are a few things we can do however to keep on track.

At our business we treat the business as we would a client. We set aside time to talk about the business, its future and how we aim to facilitate and encourage growth. Only by devoting time to the company can we really ensure we’re planning effectively.

As part of our planning process we establish goals and milestones for the next few months and continually review the business proposition. This helps me stay fresh as an owner/manager and it helps ensure we’re not wasting time or effort pursuing leads or angles which aren’t going to be productive either in terms of sales or relationships.

I would encourage any business owner to review current priorities and styles of working to ensure they’re the most productive and efficient.

A second pair of eyes – even someone who isn’t associated with the business – can work wonders. Often our working practices are so ingrained we don’t see the wood for the trees. A different view or a tweak here and there can often yield much improved results.

It’s relatively easy to get into bad habits as an owner/manager and our precious time can literally disappear. Time management has got to be one of the biggest battles.

Use the telephone more and email less when communicating with clients. This not only saves time but ensures better and more personal communication. It’s a simple time management trick but a tremendously important one.

Networking can swallow hours at a time and hinders productivity.

Be ruthless when choosing networking events and plan well beforehand to ensure a good ROI on time.

Focus on those networking opportunities that will offer ROI. Identify and arrange to meet potential clients there – if there aren’t any potential clients, don’t go!

It all sounds remarkably simple but it’s so easy for days to disappear and weeks to blend into months when running a business.

And even though the day to day business might take care of itself, you won’t see growth if you’re not focussed, productive and determined.

So stop, take stock and get back to basics.

Set a goal every day and at the end of each day ask yourself “what have I done today?”

Be honest though.


Mark Asquith

Mark runs design agency DMSQD and is a podcast evangelist.

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