There’s no doubt that starting a new business is an exciting time, however it can also be very stressful. You don’t yet know if the concept will work, you are pouring money into your dream and you are forgoing hours where you could be earning money working for someone else.
Furthermore, you often work much longer hours when you are working for yourself, especially in the beginning stages. In fact, ‘there are not enough hours in a day’ is a phrase that I commonly hear from business owners.
The key to having ‘more hours’ in a day, is to work smarter and more efficiently.
When starting out, some new business owners fall into the trap of spending too much time asking the wrong questions and focusing on the little things when their time would be better spent elsewhere.
Based on my own case studies, here are the top time wasting habits that I see with small business owners.
You are asking the wrong questions
When starting out, too many owners get fixated on the little things rather than thinking about how they are going to grow and develop their business.
For example, in the early stages, spending hours planning how your business card will look, or planning a good exercise to open your boxing class with (if your business is a gym) is a waste of your time. Those things can come later.
For a start up business owner, the right questions would be along the lines of:
- ‘What systems can I start my business with to enable fast growth?’,
- ‘How can I differentiate my marketing from my competitors?’
- ‘What are the 3 best questions to ask when interviewing potential staff?’
Getting the fundamentals and the structure locked in is imperative. You can spend time on the little things later.
Asking too many people for advice
‘Paralysis by analysis’ occurs when you get too many opinions and you give each opinion equal consideration.
While it’s good to ask for advice before diving head first into a new business venture, my suggestion would be to get advice from three people who know what you need. People with runs on the board who are not giving an opinion, but instead speaking based on experience and their success in business
I also suggest that you ignore the doubters and focus on ‘how it could work’ rather than the thousand different ways it could all fall apart.
Planning too far in advance
While marketing plans are a great way to keep you on track, they also need to be flexible so that you can move and adapt with the trends and jump onto the most newsworthy opportunities that compliment your business.
It doesn’t hurt to create a 6 month strategy at every half year mark. Print it out, put it on your desk, refer to it every month to see what you had planned on working on, but don’t be afraid to move things around or cross things out if need be. If you are too ‘married’ to a strategy created 6 months ago, you may miss a golden opportunity that is current and now.
Focusing too much on your competition
Focus on your own product and your own brand and don’t worry about the rest.
Spending too much time focusing on the competition can create doubt and take your focus away from what you want to create.
If you put your energy into staying true to your original vision, creating new ideas and strategies to take your business to the next level and keeping your team happy and excited to be working for you, business will come.
You are Spending Too Much Time Doing Other People’s Jobs
Whether you have staff or you are outsourcing tasks, such as creative or building a website, remember that these people are here to help you and spending hours meeting with them for updates or going over their work with a fine tooth comb may be detrimental to your business.
Instead, put extra care and effort into hiring talented people, so that when armed with a clear project guideline, deadline and weekly update, you can feel confident in the quality of their work and instead stay focused on completing your own key roles building the business.
Getting trapped in your office
Many new owners make the mistake of getting lost in emails and creating documents for their new business, when instead they could be developing strong relationships with new staff and customers as well as networking in their local area and setting up joint venture partners.
I recommend setting two specific times to check emails (for example morning and afternoon) and outsourcing other low value tasks.
Get out for a quick coffee and lunch each day and swap business cards with everyone you meet. John C Maxwell once said ‘your network, determines your net worth’ so its important to develop strong industry connections and look for ways to help others.
About the author
Steve Grant, founder of Gym Hub, is a passionate entrepreneur with 18 years of fitness industry experience including 4 years as a Health and Wellness Lecturer at ACPE and 8 years as the owner of one of Sydney’s most profitable fitness studios.