For our second last blog in this series I’ve chosen the word Magnitude

As a small business owner I’ve sometimes been struck by that aspect of being in business. The magnitude, scale or enormity of the task facing me.

I suppose that is part of the reason I am a mentor for businesses.  My aim is to help break down the magnitude of the task of managing the business by dealing more effectively with the multitude of problems that face is every day.

I see problems all the time (It’s often the reason I get called in the first place). Very often they have 2 facets. They are out are the expertise or at least the comfort zone of the business owner AND for one reason or another they have been put on the long finger and now there is significant pressure to get the problem resolved.  It has become the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’: not talked about but hanging there like a bad smell.  Often just addressing an issue head on can reduce it from an elephantine issue to one of much more manageable proportions.  On the other hand sometimes it is indeed Elephant sized.  I come back to the old schoolboy joke.  How do you eat an elephant? The answer One bite at a time. And in basic humour is simple wisdom.

When you look at the magnitude of the role of being a business owner you have so many roles to fulfil. A multitude of them!

Manager, Strategist, Marketeer, Estimator, Cost Controller, Purchasing, Salesperson, Project Manager, Customer support, Accounts department, credit controller, Cleaner, Coffee maker, counsellor and so on and so forth.

It is impossible for one person to be so gifted as to be able to fulfil all the roles perfectly. That is why business owners get overwhelmed, overstressed and even sick.

So how do we break it down to manageable – bite sized pieces

Four questions

  1. What’s the best use of my time right now
  2. What is the most urgent thing to do now
  3. What’s the most important
  4. What, of all the tasks I need to do is the one I like least?

If I look at all the tasks I have to do and I use this priority system I can then figure out what am I unlikely, or perhaps unwilling, to get around to.

Those tasks must then be delegated or abandoned.

The word delegate calls for a quality often lacking in the owners and managers of small business owners I’ve met. The willingness to ask for help. So that’s the first obstacle. If they are Important or urgent I’ll delegate them to whoever.  That could be a spouse, a child an employee or an accountant. Just a quick aside:  To delegate is not the same as to abdicate – we still have to make sure the job is done.

Now that reduces the multitude. And I keep doing that with tasks until the magnitude of what I am facing is manageable.  Now I schedule everything I have to do. BUT I can only schedule 60% of my time because other issues will crop up that need immediate attention.

If I do that regularly and I schedule regular tasks then the pressure starts to come off and I get control of the magnitude of the role. Then I start to feel less overwhelmed and the creativity has room to work and I bet the business grows again.

One last thought. If a one person business is turning over more than 80 to 90,000 a year (more than 8,000 a month) You definitely are on the edge of needing at least part time help. Otherwise the magnitude of the multitude of tasks will get too much

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