In order to run a sustainable company, there are many areas of business that need daily attention. In early stage companies, I often see business owners focused solely on growth and expansion, with no time devoted to establishing the necessary operational or administrative systems that will serve as the backbone for the company to support this growth.
I have also encountered veteran business owners who thought they had it “figured out.” They created a successful business and then put it on cruise control. But as markets grow or shrink, and customer demands change, they find their original way of doing things may not transition well. To stay afloat, they may need to implement a different marketing strategy, launch a new product or service or completely overall their staffing model. To maintain a thriving business, companies should remain flexible while continuing to uphold the core elements that led to their success.
Whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise, it is important to give dedicated attention to each essential business function. Throughout the company life cycle, the amount of time allocated to each function will ebb and flow.
Below are five aspects of business where I see clients misappropriating their time or giving very little attention at all:
- Business growth/development — This includes actions like acquiring new customers through marketing and sales. If you do not yet have a sales team, you should at least have a strategy in place for which customers you are targeting and how. Be clear about what you are selling and why, and be able to clearly articulate the benefits of your product or service.
- Customer service — Are you having trouble managing customer complaints or securing repeat business? Having a streamlined operations system in place that can handle your current customer base as well as a follow-up strategy to address client concerns is crucial for longevity.
- Back-end Admin — If possible, train support staff and delegate administrative tasks such as email, scheduling and bookkeeping. If you’re in the early stages, find a time when your brain is awake and you feel you’ve already “moved your business forward” for the day to work on these mundane tasks.
- Management — A knowledgeable, committed team will take some time to build, and it is essential if you ever expect to create a company strong enough to run without you. It takes effort and understanding to get to know your staff, and it has been proven time and again that making employees feel valued within the company lowers employee turnover and elicits higher quality work.
- Visioning/planning — To grow a business, you need to carve out time to dream, to plan, or even to pivot on a new idea. Maybe your unique value proposition or target market isn’t what you thought it was. You’ll never discover this if you are too bogged down by daily operations or mind-numbing admin work.
So, how do you decide where to focus your time and attention? Consider your goals. Are you at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey and still need to establish basic administrative structures (operations manual, lead tracking systems, etc.)? Or maybe it’s time to build a strong team who can keep operations moving forward while you focus on strategic planning? Where you decide to spend your time can change daily, and being clear about your goals will help you decide which tasks to tackle first.
As a business owner, what do you spend most of your time doing? Does this level of commitment align with your company goals? Please share in the comments below.