Running a small business in South Africa can be exceptionally rewarding, unfortunately there are obstacles on the path to success. The last thing that a business owner wants to do is make life more challenging! We’re all human though and we do exactly that, managing ourselves is as important as managing the business.
It’s a cultural mark of pride, being busy. Ask someone how they are and you’ll generally hear how busy they are, and how hectic life is. It’s not a complaint, being busy makes us feel worthwhile, validated and that we’re fulfilling a social expectation. There’s a problem here, being busy and being productive, doing the things that your business needs you to do, are completely different.
It takes some self awareness
If you don’t pay attention to that point you are setting yourself up to exist in servitude to your business, ruled by “The Tyranny of the Urgent”. Coined by Charles Hummel in the 1960’s, the concept is even more relevant today in our connected world. We all have days when we arrive at work and get bombarded by urgent tasks like responding to emails, text messages, missed calls, staff issues. The day kicks off like that and you’re off, attending to whatever screams the loudest for attention. Important things like planning, goals, sales activity and financial management all get overrun by the urgent. Too many days like this and you’re overwhelmed, stuck in an endless cycle. You’re now working for your business, not working on your business.
Only paying attention to the urgent also helps us validate procrastination on important tasks. How on earth will you find the time for cold calling and canvassing if you’re so busy?
There is good news
If you realise that your business is heading in this direction you can take steps to mange the urgent, while not losing sight of the important:
- Plan your day: It’s a basic truth that if you don’t have a plan for your time then somebody else will. When you arrive at work, block out twenty minutes to plan your day. Incorporate the important and a time slot for the urgent, like replying to mails. Stick to your plan.
- The Golden Hour: Make the first hour of your day completely free of the urgent. This is the time that you deal with the most important things your business needs you to do. This time is inviolate and the urgent can’t be allowed in. If you need to prospect and call sales leads, to keep your business growing, do it here. This is a procrastination free hour!
- Delegate: Do you need to be involved in everything that comes into the business? Can some things be handled without your involvement? If not, you may need to consider your ability to delegate.
It’s very easy to manage, as long as you are aware of it and willing to take responsibility for it. Have a plan for the day and spend the beginning of the day attending to important things that you would procrastinate on while attending to the urgent. Remind yourself that you are a business owner, not a headless chicken. You work on the business, not in the business.