As a business owner, you have a mountain of work that needs to be done. Most of it can be delegated, automated or outsourced, but some of it only you can do.
With all of the important things you need to do in order to bring your business profits, there are a number of tasks that entrepreneurs will undertake that serve no productive purpose, and often are done to delay getting to the real important work.
To help you understand what you absolutely should not be doing, I compiled a list of some of the most important tasks to avoid.
1. Thinking about anything else other than sales
This really encompasses all of the other points in this post. As a business owner, especially at the early stages, your primary goal is to organize and lead projects that will bring in revenue.
For new businesses, you may have one product, so these projects may be more basic, but this point still stands regardless. The bulk of your time should be spent finding ways to bring in more revenue for your business, hiring the right people to head up revenue-producing projects (namely, marketing) and making sure that everyone understands that sales is the top priority. Michael Masterson, author of Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat, describes this concept further and is a recommended read to any business owner.
2. Cleaning/Straightening up
This is a known procrastination technique. In order to avoid working on marketing and sales (something that takes a lot of trial, error and failure), business owners will instead focus on the cosmetics of their business: cleaning their office, buying new equipment, reorganizing, etc…
As much as you want to be looking at a clean office, this is by no means a priority. Sales and revenue generating activities should be your priority, not a clean and organized office with the latest equipment you can’t even use yet.
That said, I will mention that disorganization can be a distraction to many people and staying organized is very important. However, I want to draw a distinction between staying organized and organizing.
Spending the day to organize and clean your messy office is not prioritizing properly. However, taking active steps to staying organized: putting things in their place when you are finished with them, etc, will keep you organized. This will ultimately save you time because you will never need to spend the entire day cleaning up. If organization and simplicity are areas of interest to you, I would suggest you check out the blogs: Zen Habits and Unclutterer.
3. Manufacturing/Servicing, doing technical work
There is a definite exception to this rule, which I will explain below. However, I have mentioned this point in a previous post. As business owner and entrepreneur, you are the leader and visionary of your business. As important as the technical aspects of your business are (by technical, I mean the actual act of producing the product or performing the service that your business sells), they are NOT what you should be doing.
This isn’t because these tasks are below you, or anything like that (and it is important that your employees know that), it is because you have an equally important job (if not more so). I quoted Michael Gerber (author of E-Myth) previously on this topic, and I will do it again: you need to “Work ON your business, not IN your business”. Working ON your business will allow you to steer your company in the right direction, pursue the right projects and avoid the wrong ones.
Working IN your business, however, only leads to perpetual work and not enough progress for your company.
4. Ignoring the needs of your employees
You should NEVER ignore the needs of your employees. This is pretty much common sense, but it still needs to be said. One of my degrees is in Management and I can tell you that most of what I learned was common sense, but somehow it still needed to be said.
If your employees needs are ignored, they will lose motivation and not work hard for you. This means lost productivity, sales, a poor workplace culture and a lack of quality in the products or services that your business sells.
This is where the exception to the previous rule may come into play. During the earlier stages of your business, chances are you will not only be the entrepreneur, but you will also be the manager of your business. Since there are only two levels in your business’ hierarchy at this point (your employees and you), you need to make sure your employees know that you are willing to get your hands dirty.
As long as they know that you are willing to help them and that their needs are important to you, they will be tolerant of you spending most of your time doing the leadership and visionary work.
I have mentioned this in previous posts before and I am going to mention it again. Worrying and stressing are inevitable: we are all human and we all do it (especially me). However, it is important to know that it brings in unnecessary doubt and it does not help at all with the success of your business.
It’s impossible to cut worry and stress out of your life entirely, but it is important to recognize it when it comes, and try to develop a habit of fighting it and stopping it as soon as you can. It will make you more confidant and work will be more relaxing.
These are just a few of the things you shouldn’t be doing with your time. This list is by no means comprehensive and there are certainly many, many more that can be added to this list. Do you have any tasks that you would suggest business owners NOT do? What other tasks would you suggest is a MUST for business owners?