A Day in the Life of a Business Owner
A business owner’s daily routine is filled with tasks that many people with full-time jobs take for granted because the owner of the business does them. When you run the show, you’re the one who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company. The burden of seeking out customers, dealing with personnel issues and attending to customer service falls squarely on your shoulders. If things don’t work out, you’re the one responsible.
Many successful business owners understand that it’s beneficial to make time for themselves. However, once the day gets going, it’s almost impossible to find the time. For most people, the early morning is the part of a business owner’s daily routine that is not scheduled and is the easiest for accommodating some personal time. Whether it’s an hour at the gym, time to meditate or journal quietly, play with the dog or kids, or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee on the porch with your thoughts, a small business owner’s daily schedule should include some early-morning private time that is non-negotiable.
One of the first of a business owner’s daily tasks is to respond to a flood of messages and emails that either came in overnight or weren’t dealt with the previous day. You have phone calls to make, either to return voicemails or to start the day. Perhaps you need to place a supply order or soothe a customer who was not happy with a service. Maybe a pipe broke in the bathroom, and you need a plumber right away.
These seemingly menial tasks can take up a lot of time, and if you’re not efficient, could take up the majority of your day. Most experts agree that you should develop a system for dealing with the most important phone calls, messages and emails early in the day. Then, don’t say glued to your phone checking messages – or social media accounts – for the rest of the day.
A small business owner’s daily schedule should include time for a meeting with employees to get on the same page while the day is new or before the shop opens. Bring in some bagels and have a quick meeting with the team to discuss any problems and talk about goals. No business works in a vacuum, and it’s important that you check in with the people who help you run your business. They are your eyes and ears in the field, and they are also the ones who represent your good name as a business owner.
Employees appreciate you taking the time to check in, give them direction as to where their day should go, and troubleshoot any concerns they have, professionally or personally.
Smart business owners know they can’t do everything themselves. They rely on a group of trusted people they can delegate tasks to on a daily basis. An intern can handle returning those customer emails you weren’t able to get to earlier in the day. Perhaps someone in the office is a marketing guru and can manage your social media presence.
If you have a pile of resumes building on your desk, someone can whittle the number down so that you consider only viable candidates for an open position. The idea is to trust your employees, teach them valuable tasks that cut down on a business owner’s daily tasks and responsibilities and value their input and talent when they take them on.
Conventional wisdom says you need to bring on new talent as your business grows. It’s essential that you hire the right people, so start by establishing a screening process to find them. If you don’t have an HR manager, you will spend a lot of time writing job descriptions and advertising, looking through resumes, negotiating salaries and benefits, and taking new hires through your onboarding process – which you have to develop. New hires need to be trained, and their paperwork must be filled out and filed. They need to be evaluated, assessed, disciplined when necessary, and if they don’t work out, fired.
You became a business owner to make money, right? Not so fast, Rockefeller. Some 80 percent of small businesses fail within a year of being established, and of those that make it for a year, even more fail within five years without turning a profit. Part of a business owner’s daily routine involves the painstaking and endless task of maintaining the books, including keeping track of profits and losses, maintaining payroll records, and keeping track of your tax liabilities.
If your business’s finances are complicated, consider hiring an accountant to handle them for you. This frees up a lot of your time and relieves you of an incredible amount of stress. Also, establish a relationship with a business lawyer because legal issues resulting from financial disputes or quality concerns can sneak up on you.
Dealing with your customers is the meat and potatoes of being a business owner. Whether you are a one-person show or employee hundreds of people, at the end of the day, you are the face of the business. Much of a business owner’s daily routine centers around face time with customers, either helping them directly or on the phone dealing with their questions and concerns about their business dealings with you.
Inevitably, you deal with customer service issues ranging from product questions to direct sales, quality concerns, delivery issues, and even the occasional compliment for a job well done.
To do business, you need to find it and keep it. A good portion of any small business owner’s daily schedule should be spent looking for ways to generate customers, whether it’s through direct phone sales, social media marketing to generate buzz about your products or services or word-of-mouth. A well-designed advertising campaign can position your business in front of potential customers.
The end of the day is a good time to network with your peers. Even though having a meal or drinks with other business owners – while handing out business cards – cuts into your time at the end of the day, you never know when a business acquaintance can recommend your services to a friend.
At the end of every day, one of a business owner’s daily tasks should be to reflect upon successes and progress toward goals. What went wrong and – more importantly – what went right? You won’t have the time during the day to do much thinking, so the quiet time after the shop closes is the time for you to review the day in your head. Spend some time with your family or do something you enjoy doing and enjoy life in the small-business owner role you’ve designed for yourself.