Do you run a small business? If so, you can probably identify with the title of this blog!

I spend a lot of my time working with small business owners. Some have been established for many years, others for only a few months. Many of them are very successful, some are struggling. However, one common theme unites them – multitasking: the challenge of wearing many hats, constantly juggling priorities, and still finding time to have at least a chance of some work/life balance.

Is this you?

“20% of businesses fail in their first year and 50% are gone after 5 years, but only 5% fail because they are not viable. The rest shut down because their owners have found it too much to cope with.” 

I’ve created a lot of interest, and caused some concern, at the networking groups I attend by quoting this statistic! Those of us who run small businesses are very familiar with the challenge of carrying on, not just when things are going well, but when they are not.

“Not going well” may mean there’s no business, and hence no money, coming in. But it doesn’t always mean that.

It may mean there’s plenty of business, but you have no idea how you are going to deliver it.

It may mean you are focusing on delivering your service or product at the expense of sending out invoices, paying bills, following up with prospective clients, doing your social media, writing proposals, networking.  

It may mean you are also  running around after family, cooking a meal, keeping the house clean – let alone pouring yourself a drink, putting your feet up and indulging in a TV soap or good book!

How can you get that multitasking under control?

How can you ensure that your business is one of the successful stories, not one that shuts down?

In my view, it’s all about priorities. Once you know what your top priorities are, and just as importantly, what’s not a priority, you can make a plan.

Here’s how I tackled setting priorities with one client recently.

We took a big sheet of paper, and I put the name of my client’s business in the centre. Then I asked my client, Jan*, to name all the areas of activity that needed to be done for his business – things like marketing, admin, finance, etc.

We drew a spidergram and added all these topics.

For each topic, we then drilled down to the next level, and identified the activities that needed to be undertaken.

And THEN I asked Jan this: “If you personally could only deal with TWO of these topic areas, which would they be?” Jan had no hesitation in naming the top two. Drilling a little deeper, it became obvious that one area was his passion, and the other a key strength.

This unlocked a rich conversation around ways in which Jan’s involvement in the other areas could be reduced, either by scaling back the activity that was done, or by delegating it. For Jan, delegation meant a combination of allocating tasks to existing partners, asking others for help, outsourcing work and using an intern.

What would YOUR spidergram look like?

Would you like to stop multitasking? Why not try this simple exercise? And if you need some help, I’d be delighted to talk you through the exercise. Just contact me and we’ll fix a time. 

  *Client name changed to protect confidentiality