Hands up if you have more than enough time for marketing! If you do, then you’re one of the fortunate ones because most small business owners I speak to seem to be desperately trying to find time but failing. In fact, time– or rather, a lack of it – seems to be the single biggest thing that we women business owners stress about!
There is so much that I could write on being productive, on being focused, on being a super-admin ninja but actually, in real life, it’s not like that. Life is happening and we have to build our business around it.
For some of us, it’s down to having kids.
School runs, after school clubs, weekend activities, not that we begrudge them, it’s just really tricky to get a good stretch of uninterrupted time to work on the business. And then there are sick days, school holidays, inset days, aaaaaaaaaagh – no wonder the time seems to flow through our fingers like water.
For some of us, building a business is something we’re doing around holding down a job.
The dream is to ditch that job and earn enough from our business to not have to work for someone else, but in the meantime we spend every spare minute (and they are a rare thing) getting stuck into the business, doing what we can with our meagre work time.
And there are so many variations on the above – there are women out there doing both of the above at the same time, lots of them! There are women who are battling chronic and serious illnesses while building a business, using their ‘not feeling too crappy’ moments to do their best to make their business dream a reality.
Time is a precious, precious resource.
So how on earth, with all of these challenges, can we make the most of our precious time and make every spare second count towards building our business?
Well, first of all, you need to get really clear on what success looks like. Sounds easy? Have you done it, yet? What IS your version of success? What are you aiming for? When will you know you’ve made it?
Because, if you don’t know what success looks like, how will you know if you’re heading in the right direction? I’m asking this because one of the best ways to waste time is to paddle around in circles, not knowing where you’re headed.
So if you’re struggling to answer that question (and I’ll bet you’re not the only one) then now would be a really good time to get clear on it.
You can’t afford to waste time on directionless busy-ness – you need to be really clear on what you’re aiming for – what you want to achieve, by when, how much money, how many sales, how many customers. What’s your goal? What does your ideal work life and work day look like? Who do you want to work with? Who would you love to sell to? Who is your perfect customer?
Knowing what success looks like, having clear goals and targets, these are a great way to unlock precious time and free up energy to spend on your business.
Instead of thinking ‘oh, I must get my website done’ or ‘oh, I must write these blogs and e-newsletters’, give yourself a break! You’re already doing a great Wonderwoman impression but you’re not a magician. Think about what you CAN achieve in your slivers of time. Can you plan out a few Facebook posts? Can you scope out a press release? Can you draft out a flier or poster? Little steps. Baby steps. Add them together and big things get done. Break things down into tiny steps that you can do in 10 minute chunks, and tick them off your list. This will stop you feeling totally overwhelmed and incapable of action and you’ll get tons done, without even realising.
Be kind to yourself. Realise that you’re going to go slower than other people you might be watching. Know that you’ve got a life to lead, a family to care for, responsibilities and pulls on your time. Stop comparing yourself to others. Run your own race, as slow as you like.
The thing is, all the time you’re comparing yourself to others or feeling so overwhelmed that you’re paralysed into inaction, you’re not getting anything done.
All the time you’re beating yourself up for not achieving more, quicker, you’re not getting anything done.
Why not be kind to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back? You’re an entrepreneur. You’re doing the best you can to build your business around your busy life. You’re not going to be as fast as others, but they aren’t living your life. And however slowly you feel you’re going, there will be other women like you who are going even slower, because they’re doing their own thing at their own pace.
I know you want this to happen. I know you’re ambitious and you want freedom and choice and money. I know you want to feel like you’ve achieved this for you and for all the doubters. And you will. You can and you will. But you have to be realistic.
Slow and steady wins the race every time. Ten minutes a day spent on your business is better than a thousand minutes wasted on pointless worrying and comparison.
So, how to get over the ‘I Don’t Have Time’ dilemma?
Stop telling yourself you don’t have time, or you’ll start to believe it and it’s not true. You do have time. You have 10 minutes or 30 minutes a day. You can find them, if it’s important enough.
- Your job is to make every minute you spend on your business count.
- So get clear on what success looks like, so you know what you’re aiming for.
- Break down your big tasks into tiny chunks and tackle them bit by bit.
And be realistic about what you can achieve, by when rather than wasting time and energy regretting the fact that you’re not as quick as you’d like to be.
If you can crack these three, the rest will be easy!
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.