Time management is a critical skill that entrepreneurs have to master if they are to be successful. Innovators such as Henry Ford credit their triumph in business to effective time management (Adebisi, 2013). Multiple studies indicate that entrepreneurship is a venture that demands time management since business owners tend to work longer days and even more during weekends (Hatten, 2015). Hatten (2015) explains this observation by stating that entrepreneurs are faced by unique challenges and confronted by multiple priorities. However, most of the entrepreneurs find that time is still limited even after over-exerting themselves. They will often find that time is almost never enough to get things done because the buck stops with them. For example, an entrepreneur is the CEO, finance manager and customer service representative all at once. A study conducted Instantprint that surveyed time-keeping patterns of 500 small and medium business owners concluded that it is the management of time that has the biggest effect on the smooth running of a successful business (Zeller, 2015). It means that time management is an essential skill that will most often determine the level of success of an entrepreneur. Poor time management can sabotage entrepreneurs’ chances of succeeding by decreasing an entrepreneur’s efficiency.
Poor time management creates inefficiency. FEC (n.d) defines time management as ‘systematic prioritization of tasks and competing demands to complete the most important tasks within a target timeframe’. Based on this definition, it is clear that the aim of time management is to minimize distractions which reduce the number of tasks an entrepreneur plans to complete. Time management is therefore concerned with the practice of work techniques that maximize efficiency and productivity. It is from this explanation that poor time management can be associated with inefficiency. According to Zeller (2015), poor time management creates a disabling environment where tasks last longer than necessary. When work is complete, the entrepreneur is most likely to find that either the deadlines were not met or the final product’s quality was compromised. It is from here that the entrepreneur becomes stuck in a punishing cycle of inefficiency to the detriment of the venture’s success.
Poor time management is associated with poor decision-making efforts. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle that is closely linked with competing demands and overwhelming priorities. It is an undertaking that demands focus and undivided attention from entrepreneurs for all tasks to be completed in the specified time. An entrepreneur who is under constant pressure of completing tasks is more likely to make fast conclusions without due diligence. The entrepreneur’s ability to make good decisions becomes compromised as soon as the pressure for time becomes insurmountable. Longenecker, Petty, Palich, & Hoy (2013) explain that poor time management creates enough pressure on entrepreneurs to disturb their line of thoughts and capacity to take control of operations. The critical time for examining decisions and making an effective decision finds the entrepreneur not ready to carefully consider options and alternatives. The ultimate outcome is a bad decision that compromises the chances of success.
Poor time management exposes the entrepreneur to stress. When an entrepreneur fails to take control of tasks within the designated time, there is an overwhelming feeling that creeps in to affect judgment. This overwhelming feeling often grows into stress because of the chaos and distractions that are associated with pressure. According to Forsyth (2013), stress hampers performance and compromises the quality of accomplished tasks. Apart from affecting productivity, stress creates room for strained relations between the entrepreneur and stakeholders.
A toxic environment is likely to develop if the entrepreneur is not able to take control of the demanding tasks or meet the needs of customers/employers. A long period of sustained pressure is likely to subject the entrepreneurs to higher levels of stress and compromise their wellbeing. The consequences of a stressed entrepreneur include poor health outcomes from chronic tiredness and burnout (Adebisi, 2013). Studies indicate that poor time management that creates a stressful environment for the entrepreneur causes increased dissatisfaction, and may eventually result in multiple physiological issues such as depression. However, with a clearer picture of the tasks at hand an entrepreneur is in a better position to manage effectively and remain in a healthy state of mind to avoid permanent work disability.
Poor time management limits time for learning. Entrepreneurship is a venture that demands constant training and learning due to the challenges of today’s business environment (Griffin, 2013). An entrepreneur who ignores the business trends of the day is likely to be rendered obsolete and pushed out of the market (Griffin, 2013). It is a predicament that is likely to confront an entrepreneur with poor time management skills and compromise business success. Such an entrepreneur scrambles to complete tasks at the last minute, misses deadlines and delivers poor quality work. Little time is freed for personal and business development through training and other learning opportunities. There is little opportunity for the entrepreneur to expand business or influence growth through application of learned strategies. Therefore, the business venture either stalls or remains stagnant to sabotage success.
Poor time management traps an entrepreneur in a vicious cycle of failure. Failing to utilize time and make the most of it runs the risk of failure for any entrepreneur because time is a unique resource that is not infinite. The process of failure starts with inefficiency ‘ tasks take longer than necessary, more errors are made, deadlines are not met and resources are wasted. Ineffectiveness then creeps in because the quality of services remains poor. With these challenges, there is little room for business growth and expansion. Any uncertainty that confronts the business puts the entrepreneur under intense pressure to the extent of business closure. As it unfolds, the vicious cycle of inadequacy and inefficiency that results from poor time management exposes the business to a myriad of problems (Hatten, 2015). These are problems that will eventually cause the business to close the more it becomes unsustainable.
How to Overcome Poor Time Management
Time management is a critical skill that entrepreneurs must muster. It starts with setting goals and establishing a systematic way of completing the specified tasks. It is advisable that goals are broken down into manageable tasks to avoid being overwhelmed. The tasks that make up the goal can be broken down into weekly milestones. There are quality applications that can be used to create, manage and share business-to-do lists that an entrepreneur can use today. These applications such as the Wunderlist have features such as deadline notifications and progress tracking that can help an entrepreneur manage entrepreneurship demands. With such tools, the entrepreneur can maintain focus and save enough time that may have been wasted through multitasking.
Setting priorities should be a habit that entrepreneurs embrace in the lifetime of their business. It is a critical part of management. Scarborough & Cornwall (2015) state that ensures that the entrepreneur has a line of to-do tasks based on importance and urgency. The weight tasks take the lead because they are most important to the business operations. Sometimes entrepreneurs make the mistake of dedicating too much time to tasks that are not important/urgent while trying to do the important ones within a short period of time. However, classifying tasks on the basis of urgency and importance to avail enough time for either at the relevant time. Specifically, an entrepreneur should have the most important and urgent tasks completed immediately with enough time dedicated to them before the urgent but not as important following close behind. After those are complete, the entrepreneur should have the important but not urgent tasks completed next. Using this approach frees up more time for the entrepreneur to plan better rather than scramble to complete everything and anything.
Deal with the Unexpected
It is important that the entrepreneur sets enough time for unforeseen events. Entrepreneurship is a risky venture that is faced by numerous unforeseen events. However, an entrepreneur should desist from going off course to handle emergencies. Instead, the emergencies should be dealt with at an appropriate time during the day they arise. Setting a time of handling emergencies ensures that the more important and urgent tasks are not affected.
Create Planning Sessions
An entrepreneur should reserve some time when reviews and planning sessions can be undertaken. It is advisable to have monthly or semi-annual planning sessions to review what has been accomplished with respect to the established goals. It is during the sessions that the entrepreneur should dig deeper into the business’ financial position to determine the status of business. This can be completed every month but once the business runs for six months, the entrepreneur should update the strategic plan. The strategic plan will then carve a path that the business should follow in the subsequent financial period. After creating all the plans, an entrepreneur should be prepared to dedicate significant effort to complete the tasks at hand. It means staying in the moment to avoid missing some of the critical things that have been set aside as priorities.
Entrepreneurs struggle with time management. There are simply too many tasks to complete yet too few hours available. However, time management remains one of the critical factors that determine whether an entrepreneur will succeed or fail. Poor time management exposes the business to wastage of resources, missed deadlines and output that is of poor quality. The business becomes entrapped in a vicious cycle of inefficacy to sabotage the entrepreneur’s chances of success. It is an unforgiving cycle that can only be broken through effective management of time and available resources. Specifically, entrepreneurs should learn to set goals and prioritize tasks so that enough time is availed to each of them, accordingly. It will help the entrepreneur to avoid feeling overwhelmed, which is the starting point of poor performance. Some of the famous entrepreneurs in the world such as Henry Ford have attributed their success to effective time management. It means that effective time management is a defining factor of entrepreneurship success.
- Adebisi, J. F. (2013). Time management practices and its effect on business performance. Canadian Social Science, 9(1), 165.
- Financial Education Curriculum (n.d). Time Management for a Small Business. Retrieved from https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/files/PARTICIPANT_GUIDE_TIME_MANAGEMENT.pdf
- Forsyth, P. (2013). Successful time management. Kogan Page Publishers.
- Griffin, R. W. (2013). Fundamentals of management. Cengage Learning.
- Hatten, T. S. (2015). Small business management: Entrepreneurship and beyond. Nelson Education.
- Longenecker, J., Petty, J., Palich, L., & Hoy, F. (2013). Small business management. Nelson Education.
- Scarborough, N. M., & Cornwall, J. R. (2015). Entrepreneurship and effective small business management. Pearson.
- Zeller. (2015). Successful time management for dummies. John Wiley & Sons.