My father has been in the restaurant business since I was a kid, and he’s done well. But to this day when I see his office, I cringe. There’s paper everywhere: on his desktop, on the side table in the corner, on a chair, in a basket next to the file corner.
You get the picture. How much time do you think my dad spends sifting through paper trying to find something?
I can’t help but think of this clutter in terms of wasted hours—hours he could have spent revamping the menu, pumping up his marketing efforts or making good on countless other big (and really great) ideas he’s kept on the back burner for years. He’s the one with the grand vision for his business, yet he’s bogged down by the daily details.
Small business owners like my dad put in enough time as it is. Sixty-eight percent of small business owners work 41 to 70 hours a week, according to a 2012 survey by Manta, an online community. Given the unique perspective you bring to your company, it’s in your best interest to make every moment count.
Think about it this way: According to executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates, CEOs set themselves apart because they are:
- Intrepid—meaning they perform effectively in complex and difficult situations
- Able to build teams that achieve success
Unfortunately, it can be tough to put those attributes to good use when you’re focused on keeping your operations up and running. It’s possible that you’re spending a lot of time on tasks that could be turned over to others, which would allow you to get a big-picture view of where your business is and where you’d like it to be.
How can you shake off the everyday hassles and focus on the best use of your time? Each of these moves can bring you closer to those three traits of a successful CEO.
Envision the future. That may not seem possible most days, but it will become a more realistic goal if a trusted business partner is taking care of routine, time-consuming tasks. For example, a solid records and information management program can free you from many administrative burdens. Effective decision-making is easier, too, when your information is organized and easy to access.
Manage (or entirely avoid) compliance headaches. Government regulations and red tape topped the list as the single most important small business problem in a recent National Federation of Independent Business survey. A trusted partner can help you get your records in order and cut your compliance time and costs.
Reach peak efficiency with an information management program. Information is the lifeblood of any business. Proper document storage and destruction can clear the decks of useless clutter and let everyone concentrate on their most important tasks. If your staff adheres to a set of records and information management policies, everyone will be set up to tackle critical management and strategic planning issues.
Your vision sparked the genesis of your company. Imagine what you could do if you had the time you need to chart its next steps. Once you sweep away all that paper—and paperwork—the possibilities are pretty amazing.