Starting a business can be a chance to set your own hours and work more flexibly. However, as many entrepreneurs discover, running a business can often be more time-consuming than being an employee due to the sheer amount of admin and responsibility.
It’s important to not dedicate too much time to your business. While working harder will make your business more successful, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your personal life and overall wellbeing in the process. The following post can help you to determine if you are working too many hours, and if so what you can do to reduce these hours.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as to how many hours you should be putting into your business. In many countries, the legal working limit for employees is 48 hours per week. It could be worth trying to stick to this hourly limit when running your business too. Try counting up all the hours you’re working within the week to see if you’re exceeding this 48 hour limit.
Of course, sometimes the lines between work and free time are blurred. Does going for lunch with a client count at work hours? Does commuting count as work hours? Does responding to a client email while watching TV count as work hours? This is why the 48 hour rule is not always a good indicator.
There are times when it may also be necessary to put more hours into your business such as initially launching it. You’ve also got to think about how much you enjoy your work. If your business is cake making and it’s a passion of yours, sticking to the 48 hour limit may not matter.
There are a few sure signs that you’re working too many hours. These can be a better indicator that you need to reduce your hours. A few signs that you’re working too much include:
- A lack of social life. You feel you rarely get to see your friends because of work.
- No time with family. You feel distant from your partner or you feel you’re not able to spend enough time with your kids.
- Lack of sleep. You shouldn’t be working so much that you rarely get more than 6 hours of sleep per night.
- No vacations. Everyone needs a vacation to recharge their batteries. If you can’t remember the last time you took a vacation, you’re working too many hours.
- No time for hobbies and interests. You should still have time to pursue personal passions.
- You feel constantly drained. Working too many hours and not getting enough relaxation time could leave you feeling drained. It’s possible you could be on the brink of burnout – in which case, it’s important you reduce those hours before your body decides to take a break for you.
A lot of business owners know that they’re working too much, but they don’t know how to reduce their hours without their business suffering. Often it’s a case of embracing the cliche of ‘working smarter, not harder’. It’s possible to be busy without being productive – you should consider whether all those extra hours are leading to more profit and prestige, or whether you’re overcomplicating things.
There are a few ways in which you can reduce your hours while staying productive and profitable. Below are just some examples:
Hire a helping hand
Hiring someone to take over some of your work could allow you to reduce your hours.
This is definitely an investment that you need to consider carefully – at first, you’ll need to put in more hours in order to select, train and supervise this employee. You also need to consider the cost of hiring an employee and whether you’re making enough profit.
Hire correctly and it should pay off in the long run. They’ll eventually know what they’re doing and will be able to carry out work without your supervision. Your business may even be able to take on extra work, some of which you can delegate to them, allowing you to make enough money to compensate for their wages.
If you get to a point where you have a team of staff, it could be worth hiring an assistant manager. They will be able to help you with all the HR admin and they’ll be able to run your business in your absence, allowing you to take more time off.
Assistant managers need to be selected and trained carefully. It could be worth signing them up to professional coaching classes as offered by companies like Corporate Coach Group to make sure they’re managerial material. Alternatively, you could hire someone who already has experience as a manager working somewhere else.
There may be limits to hiring help, especially if you run a solo business and your personal identity is a big part of your brand. That said, you may still be able to delegate admin jobs to employees.
A lot of small businesses find it more profitable to outsource tasks. Rather than hiring an in-house part-time accountant, you could find it cheaper and more effective to outsource an accountancy firm. Other tasks that you can outsource to save time include marketing, managing IT, recruitment, answering the phone, onboarding clients, cleaning and maintenance.
As with hiring, make sure that the cost of outsourcing doesn’t eat away at your profits too much. You should start by outsourcing the tasks that you enjoy the least and which take up the most of your time. Obviously, you cannot outsource core tasks.
Invest in automation
Think about whether there are tasks you could be saving time on by automating. A lot of boring routine admin tasks such as calculating taxes, paying staff, sending reminder emails and creating staff rotas can be automated using software.
Try researching automation options for time-consuming admin tasks – there could be software out there that you could be using. Weigh up the cost of using this software. There could be software options that allow you to manage everything from one place. You could even consider building your own custom software.
Similarly when it comes to manufacturing, think about whether you could invest in machinery to automate tasks. This guide at Manufacturing Global offers more information on using automation in manufacturing.
Focus on what drives results
Are you putting time into business strategies that aren’t getting you results? Meanwhile, are other strategies paying off well? Instead of wasting your time on strategies that aren’t working, consider focusing on what pays the bills. This could reduce a lot of time.
For example, perhaps you’re pouring time into social media marketing but getting no results. If other marketing strategies are getting you customers, consider whether it’s worth abandoning social media marketing altogether and focusing on the strategies that get results. Similarly, if you run a restaurant, consider getting rid of dishes on your menu that don’t sell well and focus on the dishes that do.
Schedule your free time
Avoid being too accommodating to clients or employees. Sometimes you need to prioritize your personal life. This could mean scheduling days off each week, as well scheduling days off in advance where you may have important personal events such as weddings, funerals or school sports days to attend.
Avoid all involvement with your business on these days off. Set your emails to ‘out of office’ and let work calls run to voice message (if it’s an emergency, someone will leave a message – only respond if it’s an emergency). Warn clients and employees in advance of your absence. If a customer can only do a certain date and this clashes with a personal event, take time to consider just how important this client really is.
Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.