Time management and planning critical to SME success



time-management.jpgTime management and planning will always be a challenge for entrepreneurs – especially when their businesses start to grow and build market share. With responsibilities ranging from overseeing operations and maintaining client relationships to HR and new business development, most entrepreneurs are hard-pressed to attend to everything owing to time constraints. In order to manage their time appropriately and create the critical space needed for strategic planning, enterprise development (ED) initiatives should assist small business owners to understand the relationship between time, competency and capacity. This will permit them to find appropriate solutions and plan accordingly says Shawn Theunissen, head of CSR at Growthpoint Properties and Property Point (Growthpoint Properties’ enterprise development programme), in this month’s SmartProcurement.

While there is much to be said about the ability to multi-task and work well under pressure, appropriate time planning and management are critical to the success and growth of any business. “This is especially true in the context of small businesses, where entrepreneurs usually don’t have the luxury of employing additional resources to relieve them of some of their duties,” explains Theunissen. “This makes the ability to manage one’s time a critical skill for business owners.”

Because time is usually at a premium in SMEs and activities are typically slanted towards customer satisfaction and sales, entrepreneurs often need to be guided back to allocating their time appropriately to all facets of their business in order to ensure holistic sustainable growth.

“If business owners only focus on sales and new business for example, they run the risk of ‘over-selling’ and under-delivering unless they’re able to simultaneously manage the operations of the business,” says Theunissen.

“This is something we often see in smaller SMEs when they take on more sizeable contracts. Instead of pacing themselves and concentrating on growing organically, they continue selling. Because their operations are then unable to support the requirements of these new clients from a delivery perspective – whether this be in terms of project management, invoicing or quality control – they damage their reputation in the market and can potentially set back their businesses financially owing to penalty clauses for non-delivery.”

Theunissen explains that a focus on time and its relationship with capacity and competency can potentially address this – and is something ED programmes should help them to understand.

“Entrepreneurs faced with time constraints need to look at the root cause of this and interrogate whether they can’t actually perform specific tasks (i.e. they are not competent in this specific space) and/or they simply don’t have the hours in the day to complete the work (i.e. capacity). Both present specific solutions that they can then plan to implement – and implement,” says Theunissen.

He adds that, in these situations, entrepreneurs need to appreciate that they must prioritise these interventions in the short term as they will have a direct impact on their time and the efficiency of their business in the medium to long term: “While going on an additional course or setting aside time to interview a new resource may not seem possible given one’s current workload, it simply must be done as soon as possible. That being said, these interventions must also be scheduled so that they have the least possible impact on the running and delivery of the business. As such, I would recommend seeking the advice of your mentor or the programme manager of your incubator when doing your initial planning for these upfront,” he concludes.

For more information on developing SMEs, contact Property Point.

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