How Should Business Owners Spend Their Time?

I am particularly fascinated by successful people and enjoy analyzing what exactly it is that makes them so successful.

How did they get to where they are today? What are the commonalities and habits that these highly successful people typically share?

So I read a ton of content when researching for this article. There are an endless number of articles about how business owners spend their time. While opinions varied, there were some common themes that I agree with and in my own experience have proven to be true.

In terms of characteristics of highly successful people, they are typically very focused, driven, and goal-oriented. No surprises there.

In terms of habits and how they manage their time, things get a little more interesting. Most highly successful people rise early in the morning and have a strong drive for exercise and physical fitness. I found this last point particularly interesting. You expect very successful people to be work-a-holics without time or energy for other activities, but on the contrary, these people make sure to make room in their lives for other hobbies, activities, and people that are important to them. They show the same drive that they have for their business success in other areas of their lives.

So…with so many things to do and so little time, what are the main activities that business owners should focus on in order to be successful?

1) Creating Value

Any business or product’s success is dependent on it creating value for the customer. This means your customers must perceive the value of your product and that this value is greater than the cost they must incur to enjoy it.

If you focus only on making money, you most likely won’t be successful.

Don’t get me wrong. We want to make money too.

But the way to do this is through creating value for your customers… Then your customers are willing to pay more for your product or service and will not only keep coming back again and again, but also help to market your product for you by sharing it with their friends.

So check your intentions, and make sure your intention is to create value above all else.

If you are providing real value to your customers, then, and only then, you can shift some of your focus to your next priority, which is to spread the word.

2) Prioritizing Intentionally

As a business owner, the fact is that your task list each day is going to be a mile long. You have to wear a lot of different hats and there’s simply no way you’re going to be able to get it ALL done.

So, you have to make choices. You have to decide each day what to work on, what can be delegated, and what to say no to. And this is incredibly difficult.

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The key is to select the items that will add the most value to your business.

Focus on things that are urgent and either do them or delegate them (handling the most important tasks yourself and delegating the less important tasks to others). For items that aren’t urgent, make a plan to do them if they are important or simply let them fall off the list. There just isn’t time for things that are both not urgent and not important.

Here are a couple tools I’ve recently gotten that really help me to prioritize and I highly recommend:

Intelligent Change Notebooks 
These notebooks not only help you prioritize, but also to focus on both productivity and positivity. Helps you decide what to work on and reminds you to celebrate wins, big and small. This is incredibly important to keep you motivated and pushing forward.

The Ivy Lee Method
This is the method that helped Charles Schwab to build his empire and become one of the richest and most successful people in the world. It focuses on prioritizing your tasks at the end of each day for the following day, and not allowing yourself to move on to the second task until your first (and most important task) is complete.

Read more about Charles Schwab and the Ivy Lee Method here. 

What activities shouldn’t you be doing?

Anything that can be accurately delegated. Some things you can’t delegate…but you can probably delegate many more things than you initially feel comfortable letting go of. So think through in depth if some of your tasks can be accurately delegated to someone else. If they can, you shouldn’t be doing these tasks yourself.

Of course this includes low level mechanical tasks, but it may include a great deal more as well.

What does it takes to get to the next level?

  1. Goals: Know what you are shooting for.
  2. Planning: Figure out how you are going to get it done.
  3. Focus: Eliminate distractions.
  4. Discipline: Execute your plan diligently to achieve your goals.
  5. Motivation: Find the daily inspiration to get up and work towards your goals each and every day.

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