Success Lies In Your Schedule
There’s a misconception that when you enter into your own business that your life becomes chaotic and unpredictable. I would agree that this is the case for the vast majority of small business owners and entrepreneurs trying to carve out a niche and take their shot at the big bad world of entrepreneurship. I would also add that with just a little structure, discipline, and strategic thinking that life doesn’t have to take such a sudden shift towards this chaos.
Yes, your life will not be the same as if you worked where someone else dictates what, when, and how you should do your job. Of course you’ll be working hours that seem crazy to family and friends. Do not confuse this as an excuse to be chaotic and unorganized with your time.
When I work with entrepreneurs there is a common recurring theme of, “I just can’t seem to manage to get everything done and I’m finding myself to be overwhelmed at times.” So what’s the problem?
Digest these numbers for a second…
Small Businesses with less than 20 employees:
- 50% fail in Year 1
- 37% chance of surviving 4 years
- 95% fail by Year 5
- 9% have a chance of surviving 10 years
- 30% Break Even, 30% Continually Lose Money, 40% Profitable
- Source: Infographic: The Most Tried and Failed Small Businesses; Small Biz Trends 2013 by David Wallace
The glaringly obvious question that comes to mind when I see those statistics is what on Earth were those small business owners doing with their time? If you ask them, they’ll tell you they were marketing, selling, hiring, paying bills, answering calls, emailing, networking etc…. I’m sure that’s true but why are those numbers so daunting then?
Yes, some may have picked a tough location, misunderstood the demand for their product or service, or started their business under capitalized right from the start. Those are issues that could have been avoided but that’s another story…
For me, the reason why so many new businesses fall into one of those statistics is time management. How did they spend their day? What was a typical week like? How did they track their progress? When would they allocate time to do marketing, research, answer emails, or network? Did they set aside time to plan 1,3,6,12 months down the road? I’m not suggesting it’s necessary to have detailed business plans or projections because for small businesses it’s difficult to forecast future outcomes, but a very simple structure to how they spent their time could have been a difference maker!
What entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t realize is that if they simply treat their schedules as if they worked for a company, they would drastically improve their chances of becoming more successful. There are SO many people that would love to be their own boss and have the autonomy that is associated with being an entrepreneur, yet they don’t realize that in order to truly have free time they need to be extremely organized and disciplined when they’re in work mode.
Do you set up your week in advance?
Do you know where you plan to be and what you’ll be doing on any given day?
When you wake up in the morning do you already have a vision for how the day will be?
Is there a specific time in your schedule to make phone calls, send emails, or meet in person with prospects or clients?
If you run a company with employees, do you have a consistent time you meet or speak to discuss the state of the company?
Do you have time established in your schedule to review your financials and run some basic reports to keep a pulse on how you’re doing?
As an entrepreneur you wear many different hats. If you were working an 8-6pm (notice how I didn’t say 9-5pm) you’d have your entire work week set for you with meetings, goals, tasks, and expectations of what a successful week should look like. You’d only be tasked with a few important projects. You’d be in charge of budgets, sales, advertising, payroll, HR issues, finance, or whatever your position is responsible for. Entrepreneurs do not have that luxury. In most cases, you must do all of these or delegate wherever and whenever possible. Regardless, even if you delegate you’ll need to set specific times to follow up and inspect that those tasks are being completed properly and in the time you’d like.
A major key to success for entrepreneurs is without a doubt their ability to understand the power of their schedule. It can truly be the deciding factor in a companies success. The ones that outline the week (the best do this a few weeks out at a minimum and even months in advance when possible) leave themselves in the best possible position for success. They aren’t blindsided often, they are forward thinking, and they have developed simple routines for themselves. As you’re reading this you might be thinking “Having a set schedule is near impossible because everyday is different and unpredictable!”
I get that. In fact I completely understand that. My schedule is similar to yours. However, there are set times that you can predict when you’ll need to get things done. For example: You should have a set time you meet with your staff, a set time for you to review financials, a set time for you to be prospecting or networking, and even a set time for you to keep open for when you need to meet 1:1 or have phone appointments with people that you’ll be setting in the future. You may not know who you’ll be speaking with 3 weeks from now on Thursday, but you should have a block of time where you can make yourself available for those appointments. You do not need every minute of everyday planned ahead of time. However you do need a schedule that you can refer to and help keep you on task.
What can a schedule do for you?
Well a variety of things. A schedule will keep you focused, driven, as well as thinking forward and proactively, as opposed to in the moment and re-actively. So many of the people I work with complain about how at the end of the day or the week they feel like they didn’t make any forward progress. They got everything done but there was no moving the company forward or planning ahead. They were faced with daily tasks and when they were done with the day they had completed all those tasks. That’s not an effective or efficient way to run a one person, two person, or fifty person company. Simply getting tasks done when you are faced with them will not be enough to keep your company in business let alone put serious money into your pockets.
Some helpful tips:
- Have a hand written or online version of a schedule that you use for everything. We have enough technology today, keeping it in your head is a terrible way to run a business.
- Block off times in your schedule for prospecting phone calls, prospecting emails, networking events, staff meetings, customer service, or carrying out the main function of your business (For my clients they typically do some sort of training or coaching in the sports industry and it’s important for the company that they remain involved doing that). Add some simple goals you’d like to achieve during those times. For example, Mondays from 11-1pm you will be making some prospecting phone calls to meet with potential customers this week or next week. Set a goal of speaking to 15 people and setting 3 appointments. Otherwise you’ll have a terrible time understanding if you’re making progress or not. Also track how many calls it took you to actually speak to 15 people. This will help you better qualify and develop a call list in the future that can yield better results.
- Set time in your schedule to make your schedule! Spend a portion of Monday morning setting up and confirming what you need to do not only this week but next week too. Spend a portion of your day on Friday doing the exact same. This will keep you engaged and thinking clearly about what needs to get done. If you really want to get efficient, take a glance at your schedule on a Sunday to start preparing mentally for the week ahead! As an entrepreneur you need to be able to think about your business at any time, you can’t just shut down on weekends like everyone else!
- If you have meetings that you need to run with staff, make sure you carve out time to properly prepare. No one enjoys meetings that are unorganized (or at all really). So research, rehearse, and be prepared to present the subject you need to cover efficiently and effectively.
- Carve out time for learning. Whether it means speaking with a mentor, watching interviews with CEO’s, or just reading a book that is going to motivate you, make sure you put it in your schedule. Continuing education is a part of every successful company culture. Just because you’re a small businesses owner or sole proprietor doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to educate yourself. In fact, it’s an even better reason why you need to get smarter, it’s just you sometimes!
- Block off time for you! Entrepreneurs and business owners always forget to put in their schedule time for family, friends, and themselves. If you enjoy working out, put it in your schedule. If you’re spending time with family or friends, put it in your schedule. If you just want to be alone, put it in your schedule! If it’s not in there you’ll never get around to it the way you should.
To be as wildly successful as you’re hoping to be you’ll need the discipline that the best CEO’s and leaders possess. You’ll need to be organized with your time and establish a solid routine to follow. After all, isn’t that what you’ll be asking your staff to do as you grow? They’ll need a strong example of someone who knows where they are going and what needs to get done. If their leader doesn’t have that quality, it will be difficult for them to develop it on their own!
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner and you feel like all of this makes sense but you’re not quite sure where to get started don’t hesitate to reach out. This could be a pivotal time in your business in terms of taking your company to the next level, don’t let yourself become one of those terrible statistics simply because of lack of organization.
A FREE CONSULTATION for some objective advice on your business might be the best decision you make this week! Put it in your schedule!
Tim Ziakas is a Sports Facility Consultant who specializes in helping sports facility owners run growing, viable, and profitable companies. He is one of the only Sports Facility Consultants who has real life experience purchasing, operating, growing, and selling sports facilities. His leadership and sales training stems from real life experiences both in the financial services industry and sports facility industry.