Are you a small business owner? This article from Victor Matarasa, MBA is just for you.
If you are a small business owner, you have undoubtedly encountered the seemingly difficult challenge of balancing your business obligations with those of home and family. Being committed to both a business and family life forces us to blur the lines sometimes. While trying to succeed in business and contribute to nurturing a family simultaneously is an ambitious goal, the frequent outcome is that we spread ourselves thin and wind up feeling as though we don’t do anything well.
If this sounds familiar to you, take heart that there are some simple strategies you can implement to restore some structure to your day and make yourself more effective in your sometimes seemingly conflicting roles. The tips that follow are designed to help you improve the balance without compromising growth.
1) Your business day and your work day can be different. Depending on your industry, there are certain expectations regarding when you are open for business. For many of us in service-based businesses, that is Monday-Friday from about 8:30am-5pm. If so, have someone available during those hours to answer your phone and attend to your location if you have on-site traffic. Doing so will inspire confidence in those looking to do business with you that you are in fact ready to do so. That does not mean that you must be personally available for every moment during those hours. Schedule your activities including phone calls and meetings at times that work for you. With the right people and tools in place, you can transact business during the business day, but produce the work at a time and place of your choosing.
2) Don’t answer your phone, but make sure your phone is answered. While this may sound counterintuitive, in this age of mobile communications it’s easy to get sucked into the myth that you will be most productive if you respond to every call and e-mail the moment they arrive. The fact is that’s simply not true. Being effective in all your roles requires some level of concentration and attention. Have you ever called a service provider and reached someone who is on a cell phone clearly engaged in another activity? While they may feel as though they are providing good service by answering your call, the reality is that the caller may feel as though they are an interruption and the information exchanged and follow-up may be lacking. Hire a receptionist to answer your business calls on a landline and schedule your activities to your preference. If you don’t wish to hire an employee, there are off-site telephone reception companies that offer a highly personalized service in such a way your callers will feel they have reached your staff. Important calls can be screened, announced and connected to you in real-time if needed.
3) Automate the routine, personalize the exception. Someone much smarter than I coined that phrase, but it has the ability to transform your business dramatically. Generally, 80% of the interactions a client has with your business are fairly routine. By that I mean, the same questions get answered, the same forms are filled out, and the same process is followed. This is the way it should be and the only way a business can begin to generate any volume. The remaining 20% of interactions may require some exception to the rules requiring your personal involvement. If you design your systems well, the routine functions can be delegated. Whether you choose to employ someone on-site to handle these tasks or outsource them to a third party provider is a personal choice, but it frees you up to focus on the exceptions that require your expertise.
Balancing business and personal life in the modern age is a constant juggling act, but by putting some boundaries in place, utilizing available resources and delegating where appropriate, you can achieve more balance between work and lifestyle while growing your business simultaneously.
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