Managing your time is easy when you only have a few assigned tasks. However, when you have your own business, you must manage everything, from the smallest details to the largest ones.
Write a business plan (see Resources). If you expect to obtain any kind of financing, you will need a formal business plan. If you are not seeking financing, you still need something written down. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a few pages or if it’s very lengthy; you must have something on paper so that you will know where your business is going.
Ensure that you are following all legal codes and regulations. This includes business licensing, collecting sales taxes (if necessary) and maintaining all the proper employee paperwork. You also need to ensure that you are paying all taxes you owe by the deadlines. Consult with an attorney for further details, or see if you can find a small business advisor at SCORE (see Resources).
Keep track of all of your sales and expenses. No matter what type of business you are managing, you are selling something--either time or a physical product. You must have a system for keeping tracking of this. Also, you need to keep track of all business-related expenses and receipts. Using Quickbooks can be of great assistance, but some prefer to use a customized Excel sheet. Others avoid the computer and use a hand ledger. Do what works for you.
Keep your business and personal expenses separate. You must have a separate business account.
Make a list of all tasks that need to be completed. Plan how you and/or your staff are going to complete them and meet the deadline. Do not be afraid to delegate.
Give feedback to your employees or contractors on a regular basis. This could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. If you work by yourself, request feedback from your clients by sending them an email survey or putting a survey in the mail with a return envelope that is stamped.
Re-evaluate your business plan on a regular basis. See if you are progressing or remaining stagnant. Determine if market conditions indicate that you need to change focus.
Networking with other business owners is key. They may be able to point you to resources you’ve never heard of or get you in contact with suppliers you may need. Do not waste too much time doing things that are not essential to growing your business. This includes checking email and surfing social networking sites. Be prepared to put in long hours for the first few years. Managing a new business is not the way to live a life of leisure.