Time is the most precious, and most limited, resource that small business owners have. There are never enough hours in the day to tackle all the responsibilities an entrepreneur needs to stay on top of. Early on in a business’ life, businesses don’t have dedicated teams to deal with payroll, sales, marketing, legal issues, production, or management. Instead, business owners find themselves trying to do all these jobs to varying extents.

time management - Finding time is an entrepreneur’s most important skill

Nearly all startups are forced to go through a phase like this, and those businesses who manage to come out the other side do so because of entrepreneurs who learned to make time for that other all-important job, growing their business. Many entrepreneurs fail in their first year because they simply can’t find the time to do more than just survive.

1. Prioritise jobs that benefit your entire business

Every aspect of your business feels important, and many that actually are still aren’t worth your time as a business owner. A business owner’s responsibility is to create and oversee their company as a whole and to structure it in a way that makes it sustainable and robust. For startups, that means getting established in your market, and strategising exactly how you can lead your business to the growth it needs to sustain itself.

2. Don’t get too involved in production

Successful entrepreneurs are often those who can identify tasks that don’t require their personal attention, and delegate them to other employees or contractors in order to free themselves up for more critical tasks. While it’s good to understand how your business’ deliverables are made, spending significant time helping to drive production can be an enormous waste of your time. Since production work is most closely linked to generating revenue, affording employees for production is much more feasible than for other, more support-oriented jobs.

3. Outsource marketing tasks

It makes sense that business owners want to involve themselves in branding and marketing activities. After all, no one cares more about how your business is presented to the world than you do. However, many marketing tasks, such as creating a website, writing content, publishing press releases, and handling your social media presence is a full-time job for even a modest-sized business. Outsourcing this task to a contractor or employee, and limiting your involvement to providing initial instructions and, later, detailed feedback, can save you several hundreds of hours per year.

4. Stabilise your receivables

More than almost any other issue, cash flow management dominates the time of entrepreneurs. The average business owner in Australia spends 8 hours every week just chasing down late payments from clients. That doesn’t include the time spent negotiating for financing to make up shortfalls, or managing accounts to make ends meet on a limited budget. To free up the time needed to lead your business to growth and success, you need to find solutions to stabilise cash flow without consuming enormous portions of your very limited time.

Business payment plans

A great way to end the tyranny of unpredictable client payments is to disconnect your business’ revenues from the whims of your clients. Offering business payment plans to clients is convenient both for them, and for your business’ bottom line. When a customer makes a purchase, most of the payment is made to your business up front. The customer then makes payments directly to your financial institution, who will also handle any late payment issues. When payments are made, the remaining revenues are paid out. This makes revenues utterly predictable, and allows businesses to plan expenditures with confidence.

Invoice financing

Of course, payment plans aren’t an option for all kinds of businesses, and some customers may simply not be interested in using them. Fortunately, invoice financing provides a similar level of stability in a different way. Instead of establishing a relationship with your client through your financial institution, you can simply finance your outstanding invoices, trading them in for most of their value whenever you need the payment.

Most of the value of the invoice will be paid out immediately, and your financial institution will collect on the invoice when it comes due. Not only does this lift the burden of chasing down late paying clients, it also greatly reduces the chance that a client will even attempt to delay payment. When the payment is received, the remaining balance is paid out, less a small predetermined fee.

These activities consume a majority of many entrepreneurs’ time. By vastly cutting down on the amount of focus spent on them, they can free up the time they need to focus on their business as a whole, and to strategically pursue innovation and growth.

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