It was reported that small business owners worked on average 52 hours a week. This report came out in 2005; it predates social media and other changes that can demand even more time by owners.
New time demands
In 2005, when the 52-hour week was clocked, handling email was considered to be a demanding chore for many owners. Today, on top of email that has not abated, owners are faced with a new array of challenges. These include:
- Social media. Managing Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites can be a time drain.
- Blogs and newsletters. Many owners create their own articles and messaging for customers and prospects.
- Learning. With growing access to free, top-notch webinars, podcasts, and other learning tools, hours can be drained from production into passive (though valuable) activities such as learning.
It has been reported that small business owners spend on average 16 hours each week on administrative work but only eight hours on business development. This report does not account for the time needed for social media, blogging, and learning. What’s an owner to do—without changing the laws of nature to have a 26-hour day--and still have a life?
Decide what’s important. Before spending time on social media, develop a strategy and make sure it’s part of your overall marketing plan. What are you hoping to gain from using Twitter? The strategy will dictate the time and effort you’ll put into social media sites. As Benjamin Franklin said: “Time is money,” so even though social media may not have a price tag, there’s still a cost.
Set limits on your time. Schedule time in your week to devote to the activities you deem important. Like responding to email, you’ll have to limit the hours spent on tweeting. Suggestions:
- Some owners believe that 9 to 5 are business hours to be spent only on traditional business activities, such as selling and managing staff. Consider using only hours before or after you close to work on social media and other “optional” activities.
- Schedule your time. Include in your schedule some phone-free time to think and plan. Jane Pollak in Soul Entrepreneur: 101 Lessons from a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, suggests “single handling”—focusing on one task at a time—to complete a job swiftly with no other distractions.
- Use a “to-do” list to make sure you accomplish necessary tasks.
- Don’t fill up every waking hour with business-related activities. Be sure to take time off for family, exercise and other purely personal pursuits to avoid business burnout.
Get help. You may not be able to handle all of the things you’d like to do yourself, despite smart prioritizing and scheduling. Instead, engage staff or outsource tasks to those best trained to do what you need to get done. For example, if you normally work alone and enjoy social media activities, consider outsourcing bookkeeping to free up time for what you like to do. Of course, it will usually cost you money to outsource, but the time you save for yourself is worth it!