10 Essential Time Management Tips For Small Businesses

When you’re a small business owner, there isn’t a minute to spare! You no doubt have a long list of things to do and not enough time to do them all. You have to decide how many employees to hire (and then manage these employees), market your business, and a million other little details. This is why it is so important to make the most of the time you have, by managing your time efficiently.

You’ve no doubt read article after article full of time management tips in an attempt to get a handle on that to-do list and to make the most of your day so you can make your business a success! Not every tip is suited for every business owner; some tips might work for you but not for someone else. With some trial and error you can find tips that will work for you.

Here are 10 essential time management tips for small businesses. Pick a few and try them out!

1. Tracking your time is the first step toward time management. Doing this allows you to optimize the time utilized for each task and avoid the incredible time wasters that you face each day.

To do this, you don’t need fancy software or the latest smartphone. Simply carry a notebook around and write down all of your activities that occupy your time every day.

Try this for about a week. Jot down what you do and how long it takes you to do it. Are you spending half an hour making small talk with a supplier? Is your office so unorganized that it takes you half an hour to find that file that you just had? This time can really add up, and before you know it the day is over.Writing down how you spend your time helps you to see where your time goes and what changes you need to make to manage your time better.

2. Before doing anything, first thing in the morning, take the time to plan your day out. Assign a time period for everything – one hour for returning phone calls, 30 minutes to check email, etc. But don’t pack your schedule too tightly, because that’s just asking for failure. Make sure to plan your day with extra time assigned to each task (say, adding 10 minutes to each task to allow for interruptions).

3. Don’t be afraid to put up a “do not disturb” sign on your door for some time each day. “Do not disturb” also applies to your phone and email – turn both off to ensure that you can work without interruption. And, it applies to perusing the Internet and social media and other distractions – make sure that Facebook is off during the business day!

4. Along those lines, don’t feel like you have to return phone calls and answer emails right away. Include time in your daily schedule for these tasks.

5. Multi-tasking might sound like a great time management technique, but some studies show that people who multi-task actually get less done than people who focus on one task at a time. You may feel like you’re getting a lot done only to find, at the end of the day, that your to-do list is still full of items that still haven’t been crossed off. Trying to multi-task may, in the end, also cause you to feel more stressed out!

6. Celebrate those things that you have gotten done (“resolved” issues). After all, knocking things off your to-do list is a success! This also encourages you to move on and work on “unresolved issues,” by focusing your energy and managing your time.

7. Know when you can delegate tasks. This can be easier said than done if you are a Type A control freak. A good rule to follow is that if your staff can do something at least 80% as well as you could, then you know you can delegate a task with confidence.

8. Know when to say “no” and how to prioritize. Both of these things get easier with practice!

9. Get out of the perfectionist habit. Getting everything “perfect” is impossible, and trying to do so is frustrating and ultimately wastes time.

10. When you were at school concerned about grades or working for a company with a boss looking over your shoulder, did you easily managing your time? It may be that having someone holding you accountable is just what you need. Find an “accountability buddy” to encourage you to meet your deadlines and your goals.

Besides these 10 essential time management tips for small businesses, there are hundreds more out there. Don’t give up until you find a time management technique that works for you! In the end it is worth the effort.

How Much Sales Is Involved With Business Development?

If you ask a group of people what they think business development is, you would most likely get a few different answers. There is even a chance that your own view of business development and sales may be used interchangeably.

Business development involves more of a strategic approach such as strategy, marketing, customer management, and partnerships; these activities encompass about 75%-80% of the approach, and sales about 20%-25%.

When I get asked the question, does business development have something to do with sales? Yes, it does. Is it related to business growth? Most definitely it does. Does it have anything to do with business strategy? There is a good chance it does.

Business development is a culmination of these different activities but most importantly, it’s all about shifting to the point of view of the client. This will provide you with that new perspective and will have you balance your efforts across these key activities that you and your client will both need and address. Whenever you conduct your business development efforts make sure to take the perspective from the client’s point of view and try to develop a deeper understanding of what their problem is. Realize that the client only cares about one thing and that’s their own group or company’s survival and the problem that they are facing. The client is only interested in you if they identify a need/problem or pain point that you can solve and provide a solution for it. It’s the kind of value that you can provide them that will enable them to consider your firm for the project.

If your firm’s approach is strictly from a sales perspective, generally, the economy of scale is to grow as large as you can. The strategy is to sell your product or service with a clear price and value directly to an identifiable individual client.

From a Business development perspective, the economy of scale is much smaller because the approach to your service is more strategic with the intent to create a partnership. It entails cultivating a relationship with the client and provide a service that could be more cyclical by working through existing partner infrastructures.

In my 14+ years of professional experience in management consulting, business development has been stretched to encompass a wider variety of activities with the intent to stay smaller in size. In its most traditional definition it is all about developing partnerships, which often includes some sales. Whereas, strictly sales are more transaction oriented where scalability is the differentiator.

Business Development Requires a Multitude of Skills

Business development is one of the functions that every company, from inception to exit, performs at one time or another. It’s also one of the most “unbounded” roles within a company. For some companies, business development means acquiring new customers. Others, it means raising capital. And, for yet another set of people, it means to build alliances and partnerships.

Whatever the term ultimately means to anyone, it is a function that clearly requires a multitude of skills. Let’s take for example, raising money. A business development person in a small startup company would be responsible for building relationships to raise venture capital and/or general financing for startup operations. Oftentimes, the reason this function falls under business development is because the business developer is building strategic partner relationships. Some of these strategic partners deem the relationship critical to grow new business opportunities. In that respect, the strategic partner will then invest money in return for an equity stake in the startup company.

In the case of building and managing partnerships, the business development team is often called Alliances. In this example, business development or Alliance is responsible for recruiting, managing, and supporting partner companies. In addition to this, the Alliances organization would also have a responsibility for driving a certain amount of revenue through the partners, as well. This alliance function essentially builds a core ecosystem around the host company. The ecosystem effectively allows the host company to be in more markets, capture certain geographic territories, or even drive more revenue than it could on its own.

Building joint ventures is also a form of business development activity. There are times when a company needs to work together on a specific business opportunity. The opportunity could be related to driving new business in a specific country or perhaps in a particular industry. The two companies would develop an operating agreement under which they will work together. Shared revenue and expenses, team alignment and sales targets are examples of agreements created as part of this joint venture relationship.

Driving sales is another function where business development is often categorized. This is especially true when a company is first starting off in business. Many small companies categorize their sales efforts as business development rather than sales. One of the reasons for this is because the territory is new or perhaps the product line is untested with customers. The business development group is responsible then for selling new business in an uncharted environment.

Corporate development is another function often interrelated with business development. In general, though, a corporate development function handles aspects of mergers and acquisitions for a company. Their role is to identify companies that have synergistic business models and would complement the host company. In many aspects, a corporate development officer for a company has similar skill sets and experience as all of the above organizational roles.

As one can ascertain, business development is a “catch-all” term that can encompass many different roles within an organization. That said, the skill set and experience for a business development executive is fairly broad. He/she must be versed in areas, such as building partnerships, strategy, technology, geographic markets, sales, and, of course, finance. In addition, understanding the specific industry in which the company operates is icing on the proverbial cake.

The business development executive is a key contributor to the success of a company. This individual, if used properly, can help create the very foundation on which a company operates.

How To Get More Clients: Hire A Business Development Expert

If your business has been struggling to get more clients in the last few months or year then consider hiring a business development expert that can find the right joint venture marketing partners that can deliver hot leads to your sales team. Many businesses can find themselves in a rut where it’s really difficult to acquire new customers. A joint venture marketing partnership can be the right strategy to get moving forward again. A business development pro will understand the process of putting together a solid business deal that can grow your company. If you feel that building a network of business partners can help grow your business in ways that are unachievable by yourself then find the right consultant or individual that you can bring in-house and do the deals that will get your company more clients.

Hire the Right Person

Hiring a business development person is different than finding a sales person for your team. While a business development expert can always play the role as sales person the opposite is not always true. A person that specifically focuses on business development will understand how to communicate potential business deals to perspective businesses in the right manner. They will understand that it is critical that a strong relationship is forged between the individuals doing the business deal and the company employees that will be involved in implementing the partnership.

Hiring a consultant or consulting firm to act as a business development team for you company is a great route for many small businesses. Many business that do not have the internal man power and capabilities to identify, engage, and do the business deals necessary for growth can benefit from a consultant or consulting firm that has access to the business decision makers or the experience necessary to reach out to companies and develop the relationships required to put together a great business deal.

While a consultants hourly rate may be higher than you’re comfortable with a deal can be put together much faster by a professional than someone trying for the first time to structure a business partnership. Consultants often will require an hourly rate or fixed salary as well as some kind of bonus structure for placing deals together which may be a single payout for each business deal that is signed or a revenue share that is paid out over a period of time based on the amount of business that is ultimately generated from the relationships. Most consultants will not work for pure commission deals unless they believe that a deal can be put together extremely fast and will generate immediate revenue. Most will want a cash payment coupled with a bonus structure. Companies that want to execute business deals with larger fortune 500 type companies should always highly consider hiring an expert that has preexisting relationships with the company that you want to do a deal with. It’s common to hire a consultant for one specific business partnership.

Managing a Business Development Team

Managing a business development team member is similar to a sales team member in many respects. It is important that as a business owner you control and own the data that is developed by the team member by making them use the corporate customer relationship management system and uploading any data and reports on potential business partners to the corporate document server. Failing to do this a common problem with companies and their sales teams and even more so with business development professionals as the relationships they have and bringing to the table are often held tightly and not given up easily.

If you are hiring an outside consultant there may be specific clauses in the agreement about who owns what data. This is something to be aware of as it can be very frustrating to be a month or two in developing a new business partner and have a person leave and take the contact information and data with them leaving you in a tough place to continue. It’s critical to recognize that a business development team member is going to need to spend time out of the office meeting with companies, going to business events and other functions that may be fruitful in finding and meeting the right business partners, however if you are paying for someone to be at an event then make sure the business cards that are collected get scanned and retained by the company.

If you have decided that in order to get more clients your business needs to develop strategic business partners than consider outsourcing the work to a consultant or hiring a business development expert in order to speed up the process. Avoid taking team members off their existing duties or forcing yourself to forge the relationships by yourself and add more duties to your already exhausting schedule.