By Bruce Freeman The Small Business Professor
Q: As a small-business owner, there never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything. Can you advise me on how to organize my time?
A. No matter how hard you try, you can't be in two places at the same time. There never seems to be enough hours in a day to accomplish everything you know you should be doing for your business,
-To get an overall picture of your business requirements, make a list and prioritize all of the tasks within a three-month period that need doing for your business to prosper. In addition to serving current customers, make sure you account for publicizing and prospecting for new business, billing and collections, payroll and taxes, and management and human resource issues.
-Categorize both easy and tough tasks according to which must be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. Place the highest priority on items that contribute to your bottom line or keep you in business (i.e. paying the telephone bill).
-As much as possible, analyze your business day. Determine busy and slow times during each day and week. Many businesses experience lulls at different days or times. Try scheduling easy tasks for slower times.
-Schedule all tasks that must be accomplished in a planner. Make a time commitment for tough tasks and defer regular business until the tough tasks are completed. If possible, put the same task on the same day or time each week or month so that you develop a routine. This also helps you keep from putting off things you know you should be doing and others (clients, suppliers and employees) will come to know, in time, that you are not available during this period, except for emergencies. When you are finished with the tough tasks, you can relax and enjoy your business for the majority of the time.
-Hard as it may be for you to accept, it may not be possible for you, personally, to do everything that needs to be done well. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If tasks that are vital to the growth and success of your business are not in your strength column, consider hiring someone else to accomplish them. For example, if you dislike cold calling or bill collections and just can't seem to make yourself do it, hire someone part-time just to do those tasks. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Bruce Freeman, an adjunct professor and co-author of "Birthing the Elephant" (Random House), is president of ProLine Communications.