Starting a business is one of the most time-consuming efforts you
will ever volunteer for. It is estimated that successful
entrepreneurs work an average of 65 hours per week on their
business, and that's after
the venture is up and running!
As a business owner, you are playing every role at one time or
another. You may be your own boss but you are also your own
accountant, your own attorney, your own marketing department, and
your own secretary.
Managing your time effectively is the most important skill for a
first-time business owner, and the sooner you take control of your
time and tasks, the easier the startup process will be.
Once you have made the decision to start a business, the first
priority is to get organized. Find and use a time-management system
that works for you. Enter all of your current obligations into the
schedule, then block out chunks of time to focus on your startup.
Treat these work blocks as mandatory appointments and let your
housemates know that the time is to be uninterrupted. Evaluate the
other things on your calendar and decide which time-consumers can be
reduced, eliminated, or delegated.
If you can't find large enough chunks of time for working on your
startup, consider getting up a few hours earlier or staying up a bit
later...once you develop the habit you may find these are very
Tame Your To-Do List
Once your time is relatively under control, the to-do list must
also be tamed. Create a Master to-do list in a spreadsheet software
or on paper.
List every item that you know you need to do, then organize them
by adding codes for the type and priority level of each item. For
example, mark all emails with the same type code so when you
sort the list by type, all the emails you need to take care
of are listed together.
Establishing a separate priority code ensures that
you are taking care of the most important tasks first. By developing
a habit of assigning the right priority to each task you add
to the list, you can sort by priority and instantly be aware
of the most pressing jobs at hand.
Use a Ten List
Very often, this master to-do list will end up with dozens, if
not hundreds, of separate items as you work through the startup.
Because a list of that magnitude can be overwhelming, it is
recommended that you maintain a shorter list to work from.
We recommend that you utilize a daily ten-list. That is, note the
next ten tasks to be completed on your daily calendar or handy
notepad and work off of that list until all tasks are complete.
Then, return to the master list on the computer to develop your
next ten-list. This way, you are neither overwhelmed nor distracted
by the other hundred items and can give your full attention to those
tasks you have deemed the highest priority.
Entrepreneurship is no vacation. The time and energy necessary to
launch a successful venture shouldn't come as a surprise, but the
more organized you are before you start, and the better you manage
your time, the better off you'll be throughout the life of your