This is a question I get asked ALL THE TIME. By clients and by other business owners.
We want to divide it up intelligently and spend it wisely. Yet we’re always running on empty, strapped for time with not enough to get done what we want or need to.
I don’t have all the answers, I am not a professional organiser and my to-do list is much like my laundry basket – I never seem to see the bottom of it!
But I have noticed for years that I do seem to get a lot done, so perhaps the old corporate career in project management has come in handy after all.
Here’s how I used to spend my time in my product-based business
Weekday mornings – walk the kids to school (20 minute round trip).
I like to kill two birds with one stone wherever possible – this particular activity ticked off my exercise for the day as well as delivering the cherubs to school on time.
Plus, getting the blood pumping in the morning actually helps make you MORE alert, efficient and productive for the rest of the day. WINNING!
Monday morning – staff meeting.
This was handled remotely, using Skype, because my team all lived in different states around the country.
Checking in with staff or contractors regularly is mega important – it makes sure everyone’s happy and working on what needs to be done.
Monday afternoons – record key metrics from Google analytics.
We tracked the usual things like unique visitor numbers, # sales, conversion rate, average order value, plus we tracked traffic and conversions from individual channels like our email list, social media etc.
Data like this is absolute gold – if you don’t track these things, GET ON IT! Like Dr Phil says, “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”, so you need to know your current position before you have a hope of improving it.
Usually the result of focusing on the website metrics would be small tweaks, updates and changes to the website. Some of these, such as text and image updates, I would do myself. Anything structural would be handled by our web developer, and I’d usually project manage those changes.
End of the week – I’d brief my graphic designer.
I’d instruct her on whatever bits and pieces we needed coming up, whether it was marketing materials for an expo, graphics for a new product launch, brochures for our retailers.
First Monday of every month – write blog.
(I only wrote one blog a month.) Blog was to be posted on the website in time for the email newsletter on the first Wednesday of every month.
First and third Wednesday of every month – send email newsletters.
I had a marketing email that went to my customer list and a separate email that went to my wholesale stockist list.
The email that went on the third Wednesday was a reminder only – one to each list – reiterating whatever specials, promos and blogs that were introduced in the first one.
End of month – review sales.
This involved recording and reviewing sales results from all channels (website, wholesale and home demonstrators).
Once a quarter I would meet with our Accountant to make sure the books were in order. At tax time, this would also involve meeting with a special R&D tax accountant, to take advantage of the Australian Federal Government tax incentive available for small businesses who innovate and develop new products.
Once a quarter I would also review my marketing plans. Based on the data recorded weekly in our key metrics spreadsheet (mentioned above), I’d make decisions about new products and promotions, and analyse our cost of goods (we manufactured in USD so had to keep a close eye on the fluctuating exchange rate).
Ongoing throughout the year
Throughout the year, I would work on product development (we usually had one major new product launch a year, so there would be small amounts of time in between all the fixed activities that I would spend on product design, testing, prototyping, photography, trademarking and so on.)
In between those times, I made sure my team members were doing their jobs. These included:
- Creating and scheduling content on social media and managing the social media community, including customer service via Facebook messenger.
- Answering the customer service phone calls and emails.
- Managing the factory (production runs, shipping, customs, receiving and warehousing).
- Picking and packing orders.
- Managing the wholesale clients.
- Running expo and market stands.
- Anything else I’ve forgotten!
So as you can see, basically the only ‘working in the business’ work I did was product development, writing the blogs and email newsletters, briefing the designer, and that’s about it.
The rest of it was planning what the team needed to do, reviewing the results, adjusting course accordingly, and managing the team.
Obviously I didn’t start out with a team doing all of those things – prior to that it was just me and my business partner. I did all the marketing, customer service and book keeping, while she managed the website, packed orders and managed the manufacturing. We ran a very lean ship and only did the kinds of activities that would grow sales.
One thing you may notice is that I actually didn’t really schedule a lot of nitty gritty detail into my week.
I was never one for “Marketing Mondays”, “Book Keeping Thursdays” or whatever.
Sometimes that did result in me getting side tracked on whatever the latest issue was, and some weeks definitely felt like I was putting out fires left right and centre!
But for the most part, not getting too bogged down in planning every teeny tiny detail actually kept me nimble. Not focusing on the minute details also helps free up your time and your headspace to focus on the big vision!
Instinctively, I’ve always known that keeping an eye on the big vision combined with monitoring results regularly, would be the key to staying motivated and continually moving forwards.
Now, because I have a big proportion of clients and readers who are also Mums like me, I wanted to add in a few extra time management tips that help me to stay as productive as possible.
- My kids make their own school lunches and have done so since grade 1.
- They all have chores – they make their own beds, unpack the dishwasher, set the dinner table and clean the table after breakfast, put their own clean clothes away.
- I meal plan. Every Saturday I shop for the week. There is never a weekday where I’m racing around the shops trying to grab a few ingredients for dinner or stressing about not having time to prepare a healthy meal. I only prepare one meal (I do have fussy kids but they have learnt that if they don’t eat what’s in front of them they go hungry).
- My kids also spend some time in after-school care, and before school they spent time in daycare. For a while I tried to work during their naps and after they went to bed, but I found it impossible to get much done when interrupted all the time. I found having a few longer stretches of time to concentrate meant I was more productive and way less stressed, making me a better Mum as well as more successful entrepreneur.
- My husband is (almost) equal in terms of household chores. Even though I haven’t always matched him in income, I have always matched him in hours worked. Without having the practical support of a husband or partner, it’s very difficult to succeed in business. This practical support is necessary for managing your time AND, more importantly, it is an important display of respect that all women deserve!
Are you always busy feeling stressed and busy in your business?
It turns out, most of us are wasting so much time doing things in our business that aren’t actually particularly effective at driving sales.
Especially us women – we looooooove to please everyone and put everyone else ahead of us, leaving ourselves last.
And then we wonder why we’re not making any money for ourselves?
“But I need to do this” you say, or “I should do that” you say…
Let me take a look at things for you. Often I find when you allow someone with the right, specific experience to take a “birds eye” look at your biz, they see things differently.
To talk about your business, your vision, what’s working and what’s not, and get you focused on the right things to get you back on the path to growth.
Let’s stop spinning wheels, let’s hop off the hamster wheel, and help you get the clarity you need so that you, too, can achieve more by working less.
About our Ausmumpreneur Expert :
Catherine Langman is an award-winning business owner with extensive professional experience in brand communications, digital design and online marketing. As a business coach to Productpreneurs, Catherine has helped clients with product-based businesses to achieve massive growth in their own businesses. Find out more about Catherine here: www.catherinelangman.com