As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get mired in a sea of emails, phone calls, and operational and personnel problems, leaving almost no time for your regular responsibilities. This hectic day-to-day scramble won’t just run you ragged, it’ll ultimately also hold your business back, and keep you from developing and implementing your best ideas.

photo 1483389127117 b6a2102724ae 300x225 - Successful leaders take time to reflect

To turn their business into an industry leader, entrepreneurs need to not only do the job of running their business, they need to personally dedicate the necessary time to think bigger. Leading an industry is about becoming the cutting edge of innovation in your field, and being the disruptive force that sets the pace for your competitors. This is a big responsibility, and requires a comprehensive understanding of the needs of your markets and the capabilities of your industry and your business. Making that innovative leap is about taking that knowledge and using it to dream up a better future.

Time for reflection allows for higher quality thinking

Business owners spend most of their day in a neverending rush of activity. When there aren’t clients, employees, and suppliers to talk to and manage, lenders to negotiate with, bills to pay, taxes to do, and meetings to run, there are thousands of emails to sort and answer. Individual tasks are allotted just a few seconds of focus before the next issue comes up.

In this type of environment, it’s very easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. This is a serious problem, because business owners need to have a larger scale view, and the opportunity to build and develop larger and longer term goals and strategies. They need time to dream about what might be, and how to make the impossible achievable.

Dreams are the engine of innovation

A business owner that is always focused on getting through the day will ultimately only ever build a business that’s focused on, and perhaps good at, survival. An entrepreneurtakes time to think deeply about their business, their industry, and what their place in the world is and what it could be. Without this larger vision, growth targets and strategies lack a unifying purpose, and can’t spur on the kind of targeted innovation that a business needs to set itself up as a leader in its industry.

Improving time management

The missing resource that leaders at every level lack is time. This is because, before business owners can make time for themselves, they need to get control of their schedule, which becomes increasingly difficult as responsibilities grow. All too frequently, business owners become a sort of jack of all trades, handling all the miscellaneous tasks that their employees aren’t responsible for. That might include everything from administrative tasks like payroll and accounting, to customer relations or sales, to menial maintenance tasks like cleaning and emptying the garbage. Inevitably, these day to day tasks crowd out longer term and less well-defined leadership responsibilities, like setting the long term goals and overall trajectory of the business.

Stabilise your cash flow

Small business owners spend an average of 8 hours per week chasing late payments. This doesn’t include the time spent acquiring financing, and dealing with the inevitable issues with suppliers and employees that tend to come with unexpected cash flow interruptions. To reduce or eliminate this unnecessarily wasted time, businesses need ways to eliminate the issue of late payments, and to get the funds they need when they need them.

While there are a wide variety of tools available to help businesses stabilise their working capital, the most common and easiest to use tool is invoice financing. Invoice financing allows businesses to trade in outstanding invoices for most of their value up front. The payment is later collected from the client by the financial institution, entirely eliminating the need to personally chase down late-paying clients.

Delegate tasks

While greatly reducing the time spent on dealing with cash flow issues is a big improvement, entrepreneurs frequently work as much as 80 hours per week. To reach a point where they legitimately have free time to dedicate to higher order, long term planning, business owners usually need get control of their schedule and to bring their working hours down to reasonable levels.

Ultimately, this means learning to delegate some responsibilities to employees, or outsourcing tasks another way. This is tough, because business owners tend to take a lot of ownership over their business, and feel the need to be in control of every aspect of their operation. Making time means making tough decisions about which tasks really need and deserve their attention, and which can reasonably be delegated.

Ultimately, however, making these choices is for the best. By taking their eyes off short term issues that can be handled by others, they can take the time to dream up a better future for their business, their customers, and their industry.

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