Keeping Small Business Simple
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Category Archives for Juggling Work and Family

A Must Read For Managers – 7 Habits For Managers

You may have heard of Stephen Covey’s best-seller, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. This is a great book and well worth reading for anyone who is keen to become more effective in both their business and personal lives.

But taking that book one step further is Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits For Managers: The 7 Habits Of ManagersManaging Yourself, Leading Others, Unleashing Your Potential.

This is specifically for managers and was recommended to me by a friend about 18 months ago. Actually, he recommended it so highly he bought me the audio book. I listened to it at the time but decided to recap and go over it again last weekend.

Being an effective manager is not only good for your business, it’s also a highly regarded quality for integrating your business/work and family time, as well as useful within any community or sporting organisations you’re involved with.

So what are the 7 habits of effective managers?

Habit 1:

They are proactive. They demonstrate initiative and resourcefulness to get things done.

Habit 2:

They begin with the end in mind. They have a clear vision and that vision drives them on a daily basis.

Habit 3:

They put first things first. They execute superbly on the truly important goals and do not allow themselves to be sidetracked.

Habit 4:

They think win/win. They know how to help everyone win.

Habit 5:

They seek first to understand, then to be understood. They are superb listeners.

Habit 6:

They synergize. They solve problems creatively because they seek rich and varied input. They actively look for the new and better way to do things all of the time.

Habit 7:

They sharpen the saw. They continuously improve the productive capability of their people by knowing and leveraging their passions, talents and sense of purpose.

Some of these I was fortunate to have been taught in my early 20s by a supervisor at the time. I am very grateful that he was not only brilliant at managing our team, but he was open about why he made the decisions he did and about instilling those skills in each team member too. They have been extremely valuable for helping me run a successful small business for the last 14+ years.

If you’re keen to improve your own management skills then I recommend you read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits For Managers.

(Click here to buy it from Amazon.com)

Seven Time Taming Techniques

pocketwatchWhen you own a small business you are an extremely busy person; everything about the business is your responsibility, which means your time and attention are constantly in demand.  Let’s take a look at seven real world tips and time management techniques to help you gain more control and efficiency in your work efforts.

Technique #1 – Track your use of time:

Carry a small notebook with you and for one full week keep track of how you’re using your time.  It takes a few extra moments at a time to capture this information, but at the end of the week you’ll be better able to see where your time is being spent and spot areas where you can make changes to be more efficient and/or effective.

Technique #2 – Establish goals for managing your time:

Once you have an idea of where your time is being spent you can set real, specific goals for making improvement.  You might set a goal of reducing the time you spend responding to emails, for instance, or cutting back on the amount of time you spend on personal phone calls.

Technique #3 – Establish a time management system:

Small business owners often find themselves pulled in many different directions at the same time which makes it very easy to get distracted from the really important things you need to do each day.  Set up a time management system to minimize these distractions, such as returning voice mail at a particular time each day, empowering your employees to make more decisions, or the like.

Technique #4 – Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise:

It is often said that 80% of your time is spent dealing with 20% of the activities related to your business, and this is absolutely true.  Make a point of setting priorities about which activities are most important and/or most profitable, and then be sure those activities receive the majority of your time and attention.

Technique #5 – Delegate and outsource whenever possible:

When you first started your small business you were probably the only employee and had to do everything yourself.  As your business has grown, however, it has become more and more difficult to take care of all of that stuff efficiently.  You can improve your time management practices by evaluating which tasks and activities could be delegated and/or outsourced and then taking the steps necessary to take those actions.

Technique #6 – Set a routine and stick to it:

The most successful small business owners understand that they use their time most effectively when they set up a daily/weekly/monthly routine and stick to it.  This helps to ensure tasks and activities are handled regularly, and when the inevitable crisis erupts you are in a much better position to safely deal with that crisis knowing the other aspects of your business are up to date and under control.

Technique #7 – Allow down time to think and plan:

This is perhaps the best time management technique of all because it allows you to step away from the day to day necessities of running your business and on a regular basis take the time to think and plan for the future.  Down time is important for letting your mind rest and refresh itself so that your creativity can come through more easily.

Planning Tips For The Year Ahead

Diary

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012!

It’s that time of year again … the time when we take stock of the year that was and set our goals and intentions for the year ahead. And quite likely, as a business owner, this is a time of year when you revise your business plan and systems and start planning projects for the next 12 months.

I’m very happy to say that last week I finished planning my projects for the year ahead. Now comes the fun part … implementing them! Planning is futile if it’s not accompanied by focused action.

One of colleagues asked me the other day how I plan my projects. So I thought, as well as sharing my technique with her, I’d share it with you too.

To start, I make myself comfortable with lots of paper and coloured pens. Some people like to use their computer, others a white-board. Everyone’s different and it’s important to do what suits your needs best. But personally, it’s paper and coloured pens that work best. With a white-board, but that comes in later.

Next, I start by listing all the projects I want to accomplish within the next year – or six months or whatever. For me, I tend to work on a yearly basis.

This also includes things such as updating existing sites, revamping existing products and so on.

Then I prioritise them – I rewrite each project in the order that I’ll be working on it. It’s extremely important not to spread yourself too thin. If you have five projects you want to complete, working on all five at once can be more challenging and distracting, often taking longer to achieve any real results.

But by working on just one project at a time you can give it 100% of your focus and then, once that’s completed, move on to project #2.

So that’s my MASTER PLAN – an overall plan that is purposely kept very simple.

The next step is to start the process again, but this time just focus on whichever project you prioritised as #1. Now it’s time to break that down into each individual task that you need to do to complete this project, again prioritised into Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and so on.

You can also put dates alongside these projects and/or steps to help keep you on track, particularly if any of these projects have set deadlines. Sometimes you may find that giving yourself a deadline helps you stay motivated too.

By being detailed in my planning and having everything I need to do to complete a project outlined, I find it much easier to focus on what needs to be done. For example, when I start my work day tomorrow I don’t have to spend any time thinking about what I need to do … and don’t need to worry about forgetting tasks. It’s all written down for me.

I simply go to my list for Project #1 and start with the first thing on the list. When that’s done, I cross it off and move on to Step 2.

Now, remember I said earlier that it’s best to work on just one project at a time? That’s the ideal way to work, but it’s not always possible. Sometimes you may need to be working on two or more projects at once. And this can still be effective, particularly if you have a good team working with you – this team could be staff, partners or contractors.

In that case, what I find best is to divide my available time into the required number of time-slots and commit to a different project in each time-slot. For me, I work on Project 1 on Monday and Wednesday and Project 2 on Tuesday and Thursday. Friday is dedicated to marketing sites and general planning.

And although I try to not ‘work’ on the weekend, I must admit, I am often so keen to progress with whatever I’m working on that I can’t help myself.  So the weekends are spent working on whatever I happen to feel like.  🙂

This is a quick summary of the system that works best for me. Please feel welcome to start using the same technique for your own planning and adapt it to suit what works best for you.