3 Ways to Make Time for Small Business Planning

I often speak with business owners who have a list of strategic planning ideas to work on. The problem is they are too busy to get to them! They are paralyzed by the constant demands placed on them from all directions. If need time to work on the plan for your business’s future (and we all should!), then consider the following three ideas.

#1 – Make a ‘Don’t Do’ List

Everyone has heard of a “to do” list, and most business owners have one close by. A “don’t do” is prepared after a serious review of your daily business activities. The best way to begin is to keep a time record of your activities for a week. 

As you review your activities, ask yourself, “Are there tasks here that I really should not be doing?

An example may include: running errands that could easily be delegated – bank deposits, deliveries and purchasing supplies. Next, look for productive parts of your job that you could train someone else to do. Start with the easiest to delegate. Some of these tasks may be enjoyable for you and you have an issue when giving up control of them. If you are serious about getting to the important strategic planning and actions, it is time to pass on some of these tasks to others.

#2 – Ask Permission for Planning Time

As humbling of a thought as it may be, most business owners have their space invaded all day long by employees, customers, family members and friends – because they allow it to happen. The reason they take up your time all day long is because you let them.

I recently had this discussion with the owner of a truck repair facility. He gets pulled in all directions and is always behind on his invoicing. He has decided to dedicate the hours of 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. each day to catch up on invoicing. To do this, he has asked his mechanics to leave him alone for this time period. He encourages his employees to be proactive in planning that time on their own.

This pro-active behavior is the key to the success of this strategy.

The mechanics need to understand the time management strategy upfront. This business owner also plans to hire a part-time receptionist to answer the phone during this period. An administrative wage for an hour is a good investment to push thousands of dollars in invoices out the door. Since Wednesday is the day he wants to spend on strategic planning, he is leaving his workshop clothes at home and coming to work in his blue jeans – the message of change is clear to him and the team.

#3 – Go Far Away from the Business to Brainstorm and Plan

No matter how successful you may be with the aforementioned ideas, nothing beats a getaway to focus on long-term planning. A vacation place is designed to be relaxing and enjoyable and this environment is a good stimulus for strategic planning. Best of all – and ask your tax advisor to be sure – a strategic planning retreat could be a business write-off!

How do you make time for business planning? How has this focused time benefited your business? 

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Author: Paul Foster
Paul's life’s purpose is to bring more cash, freedom and happiness to independent business owners. Paul wants to learn about your toughest business challenges and frustrations so he can help you tackle them.

1 Comment

  • Excellent advice, Paul. I’ve spent a good portion of my career working with small/medium companies on strategic planning and I think the points you make above are spot-on. I love the concept of “don’t do” list. I guess it’s the opposite of a “to do” list. 🙂 I also agree that owners have to give themselves permission and make sure others are with the program that planning is going to take place without unnecessary interruptions. Finally, it has always been my experience that the best strategic planning is done offsite, in an undisclosed location, with only one key person at the firm having *emergency only* contact info. Otherwise, as you know, given that you typically have the senior management team and sometimes the Board or family ownership group in the room, everyone is extremely busy and in-demand. It has to be a “no cell calls and no messaging zone,” if you’re going to get anything meaningful done. Further, if it’s not such a “zone,” as key members of the team are posturing, they can show a lot of disrespect for the process and for others’ ideas, simply by taking supposedly important communications (that really could wait). Nice post. Interesting and thought-provoking. Paul

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