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Time management tips to help your business grow

New research has found that small business leaders spend almost a third of their day on non-core business operations with one in 10 spending up to 90% of their time on activities that don’t directly relate to driving business growth and profitability – are you one of them?

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The research from Ingenious Britain found that although the heads of the UK's small and medium-sized businesses are focused on keeping customers and winning new business, many of them are drawn into operational aspects of the business such as HR, IT, finance and training.

For the owners of very small businesses, this may not be through choice but because they're having to wear more than one professional hat, so to speak. But there are a few small steps you can take to get the most out of your time.

Relinquish control

Identify the areas where you can bring the most to the business and allow others to be responsible for managing the rest. If you have employees or partners, this may mean delegating responsibility to them.

This may be difficult if you see your business as your ‘baby', but trusting others to help you can free up your time to get on with growing the business.

If you work alone or don't have sufficient expertise in-house, it may be more cost and time-effective to outsource rather than employ someone or struggle on alone. Given the choice, 30% of small business leaders would choose to outsource IT services but many are still resistant to the idea of outsourcing other parts of their business, such as HR, training and financial management.

If you're finding it hard to trust parts of your business to someone you don't know, try to get recommendations from friends and business contacts of people they use and trust.

Focus on growth

Unsurprisingly, growing business and winning new business are the biggest challenges facing UK SMEs. As the owner or leader of a business, it is up to you to concentrate on plans to keep customers and find new ones.

Often this means taking a step back and reappraising where the value lies in your business. Set aside more time for activities that deliver a return on the investment of your time and money.

Plan

To stop yourself from being overwhelmed and spreading yourself too thinly, break down projects into more manageable tasks that you can prioritise and set timescales and goals for.

Reduce distractions

To get more from your time, you have to learn to be unavailable sometimes. Turn your phone and other devices off and only access your email at certain times of the day.

If your staff always turn to you when there is the slightest problem, you should encourage them to come up with some options themselves which they can discuss with you.

Support them in their choice and be ready to do it again until they are confident in making decisions by themselves. If colleagues cause interruptions, learn to feel OK about telling them you are busy and explain its importance to the business, or give them a time when it is convenient to come back.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to time management. We choose to do the things that we feel comfortable doing, so we procrastinate about the more challenging things. Ask yourself why you're procrastinating; what's the worst that can happen if you do it and the worst if you don't?

If you don't feel confident in a certain area of business, perhaps source training or get advice from someone with required skills. For more information on growing your business, members of the Forum can call our helpline on 0845 130 1722.

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