On its own, running a business requires exceptional time-management skills. Add to that running a household, raising children, and finding time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation, and time management takes on a whole new dimension. So how do busy entrepreneurs meet all their obligations and meet them well?
A recent study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Based on professional market research of more than 1,000 women in business, this study shows that each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines two of the five types and provides tips for time management that ensure success as the various types of entrepreneurs define it.
Go Jane Go is passionate about her work and provides excellent service, so she has plenty of clients. So much so, she's struggling to keep up with demand. She may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well, because she's eager to make an impact on the world and she often struggles to say no. Because she wants to say yes to so many people, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. As a result, she may be running herself ragged and feeling guilty about neglecting herself and others who are important to her.
Of all the types of business owners, Go Jane Go is most in need of improved time management systems. She strives to give her all in doing the right thing and being a good person. She loves what she does and believes strongly in being of service to others while being the best at what she does. Often, Go Jane Go business owners are in denial about the amount of hours they actually work; for example, some reported working only 40 hours per week but still feeling overwhelmed and a bit frazzled. When we questioned them about it, they admitted that they worked only 40 billable hours per week but put in significantly more hours on other business-related tasks. Her desire to help others, coupled with her reluctance to turn down most requests leaves her feeling stressed and overcommitted much of the time. How can she rectify that?
Park It. By creating a parking lot for goals of every type, Go Jane Go can stop worrying about what she hasn’t accomplished and set a schedule for accomplishing it. Create two lists. The first should include immediate goals and should be kept visible. The second should include more long-term goals and should be filed away and viewed every month to 6 months, to determine where goals stand periodically. By writing down goals, large and small, business and personal, this parking lot takes the weight off Go Jane Go’s shoulders. She won’t forget any of these important goals, and she won’t have to worry constantly about them, either.
Overlap. It’s essential that Go Jane Go prioritize. After all, she has so much going on, she has to know where to start so she can check tasks off her long to-do list. Once she’s prioritized, Go Jane Go can make a game of finding ways to fit her priorities together. For example, if meaningful relationships, family time, helping others and managing time by hiring someone to do her less favorite tasks are priorities, Go Jane Go may consider hiring a family member to do some of the work she doesn’t enjoy as well. In this way, she gets to spend time with that family member, help that family member by providing a job, and work on the activities she enjoys.
Accept Help. Go Jane Go doesn’t want to burden others and will take on loathsome burdens to avoid doing so. However, by asking for help, Go Jane Go may feel less overwhelmed and provide an opportunity for loved ones to return favors she’s done for them. She can ask her husband to pick up the kids or make dinner, or she can ask a friend to listen while she vents about a work problem. Getting help in completing even small tasks can significantly lighten Go Jane Go’s load.
Jane Dough is an entrepreneur who enjoys running her business. Generally, she makes a nice living. She is comfortable and determined in buying and selling, which may be why she's five times more likely than the average female business owner to hit the million dollar mark. Jane Dough is clear in her priorities and may be intentionally and actively growing an asset-based or legacy business. It is estimated that 18% of women entrepreneurs fall in the category of Jane Dough.
Like Go Jane Go, Jane Dough runs a successful business and takes home a large personal income. Unlike Go Jane Go, though, Jane Dough is adept at time management and sometimes delegates too much rather than not enough. Jane Dough moves quickly and decisively, and runs her business like a natural-born entrepreneur, meeting traditional standards of success, while striking a great work-life balance. Even with so much success, this type of business owner can improve her business efficiency and its productivity by keeping a few suggestions in mind.
Document. System documentation maximizes efficiency because it reveals every step of every system, therefore revealing steps that may be obsolete or repetitive, and therefore unnecessary. It also provides a system by which a new employee can learn the ins and outs of his or her job in the case that a seasoned employee leaves the company. This will reduce learning and training time.
Track Performance. By carefully keeping track of key performance metrics, Jane Dough can determine whether the efforts she’s putting into various aspects of her business are paying off. If they’re not, she can spend less time there and more time on aspects that are productive. For example, let’s consider a Jane Dough who has spent a considerable amount of non-billable time on developing a new web site. She tracks visitors and purchases, and discovers that although her site is receiving a lot of traffic, people aren’t buying after visiting it. On the other hand, she’s getting tons of calls from people mentioning a radio ad she placed, which promised listeners a discount if they mentioned the ad. By putting in place tracking systems (software for the web site and a discount on the radio ad), this Jane Dough will learn where her resources are best spent.
Managing time appropriately is absolutely critical in striking a satisfactory work-life balance, and in growing a business. Every type of entrepreneur can improve her time management skills, whether it’s to find more personal time or to maximize a company’s efficiency.
Interested in learning more about the five Jane types and which Jane you are? Check out www.janeoutofthebox.com.
Michele DeKinder-Smith is the founder of Jane out of the Box, an online resource dedicated to the women entrepreneur community. Discover more incredibly useful information for running a small business by taking the FREE Jane Types Assessment at Jane out of the Box. Offering networking and marketing opportunities, key resources and mentorship from successful women in business, Jane Out of the Box is online at www.janeoutofthebox.com.