I’m currently fixated on time or more precisely the fact that small business owners are the busiest people on the planet. I’m left wondering how much of their days are spent in the role of ‘Business Leader’ versus ‘Master of Everything’, ‘Chief Widget Maker’ or ‘Biggest Product Cheerleader’. If they’re not leading the business, who is?
So how exactly do small business owners spend their days?
It appears that the majority spend their time doing what they like to do best – operations/making goods or services and marketing and sales.
This makes sense because according to an Intuit small business study, personal passion is the reason 67% of small businesses are started.
Based on this same study, the graphic below depicts the number of hours per week spent in various tasks. “Conducting usual business (for example, a florist arranging bouquets) is the most time consuming. After that, sales takes up the most time each week.”
When you think that the role of the leader is to plan and direct while inspiring and empowering belief, these findings suggest there is an opportunity for small business owners to get a better return on their time invested by altering their focus.
So how should business owners be spending their time? There is one perspective presented in an article by the NFIB Research Foundation that spells it out quite simply.
The author suggests that leaders should spend a significant amount of their time on four strategic activities required to improve business performance in the long term.
- Vision. Not just coming up with a catchy slogan and putting up a poster, but understanding why the organization exists and where it’s going. Communicating it and using powers of persuasion to get everyone in the organization committed to achieving the vision. This is the role of the leader and cannot be delegated.
- Values. When clearly articulated, understood and supported throughout the company, values (which form the foundation of culture) provide a reference point for employees to make decisions without interventions from management. The role of leaders is not only to clearly communicate values, but also to model this behaviour and communicate what behaviours are not tolerated.
- Long-term direction. Leaders are responsible for establishing the strategy and long-term direction of the organization as well as defining the vital goals or critical success factors that must be achieved and constantly monitoring progress towards achieving them.
- Resource allocation. Financial, human, and physical resources are always limited. The role of leaders is to apply these resources to the right things that move the organization towards achievement of its goals.
While this is a simplistic view, I suspect that if business owners spent more time as leaders and dedicated time to these 4 areas, they would be better able to prioritize what is truly important and they would get a better return on time invested (ROI).
Small business owners, how does your day compare? How many hours per week do you spend as leaders?