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
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.