A small business owner wears many hats, which he must shift between often, sometimes hurriedly. Yet most small business owners get more done than anyone else in the business. How is this possible?
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Small Business Success Tips - Time Management

Time is a funny animal. Time can fly, and it can crawl. Time can disappear. Time can stretch and shrink. Time can be gorgeous, or give you nightmares. Time can be your friend and it can be your enemy. Time, in other words, is not dependable. You cannot tell it what to do.

The trick to managing time is to control what you can control, not what you cannot.

A small business owner wears many hats, which he must shift between often, sometimes hurriedly. The luxury of working on one task from start to finish without interruption is rare. Yet most small business owners get more done than anyone else in the business. How is this possible? More important, can others learn how he does it?

Watch an effective small business owner in action, and here is what you will see:

1. He makes decisions. Based on experience, he can often make decisions quickly, but if he needs to gather data, he does so. Then he makes a decision.

2. He does what he does correctly. You will seldom see a small business owner re-doing something he has done. Partly this ability is based on his experience, partly it is based on his confidence, but mostly it is based on his understanding that doing something right the first time saves much more time than doing it too fast and without enough care.

3. He thinks ahead. Okay, you can't see his thoughts, but you can see the flow of his actions. Amazingly, he finishes dictating a letter moments before the foreman calls to tell him phase two is done, should he start on phase three, and where is the paint? The owner tells him the paint just arrived, which he knows because he told the loading dock to let him know by text when the paint arrived.

4. When a crisis strikes, he stops. He thinks. He decides. He acts. The stopping is the important part. The effective small business owner knows that reaction has less chance of succeeding than action. So he stops to think before acting, even if only for a few seconds.

5. He smiles a lot. You may not see it, but he is smiling on the inside if not on the surface. Why is he smiling? Because he is keeping the balls in the air, he is keeping the flow going. He is getting stuff done that will make the business better.

This small business owner is not managing time. He is managing action. He is managing people and energy and objects. He is controlling those things he can control, and working around or ignoring those things he cannot.

Is he aware of time? Oh, yes. But to him, time is a tool, not a master. He assigns time to its task. "The next three minutes, while this document is printing, are assigned to answering the next four emails." If someone comes in to ask him something during those three minutes, he simply re-assigns the minutes to the new task of answering a question.

So how does this busy guy have the time to shoot the breeze with a co-worker, or sit back and stare at the ceiling? Because he knows the deepest, darkest secret of time: he can step outside of it with full confidence that it will still be there when he comes back.

Some of the other factors that enable a small business owner to get done all he needs to get done include having good people helping him, knowing when to cut back on personal commitments, and constantly learning better and faster ways to do things. These are all actions he can and does control.

It turns out time is a pet dog, ready to do what you ask it to, and always there when you need it. You just don't want to startle it with uncontrolled action, lest it turn vicious on you.


Don Dewsnap is the author of Small Business Magic, published by Oak Wand Publishing. Small Business Magic details the principles of quality necessary to business success, applying to all aspects of business from production to sales. The principles of quality are not well known, and almost never applied to their full potential.

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