Not having time is just an excuse. Everyone has enough time but they don’t prioritise the allocation of that time.

A poll during a recent meeting of Marketing Crew suggested the group was interested in spending more time discussing time management and especially business apps that save time.

I found this interesting, because you really can’t manage time.

Everyone has the same amount of time but use their time in different ways. So is the question that people want to get more done, or do they want to get more of the right things done? In today’s digital world, where every moment is dictated to us by a smartphone or streams of electrons flowing from a laptop, it’s easy to be distracted. So maybe what we should be thinking about is prioritising our time rather than trying to manage time.

WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT?
This requires us first to sit down quietly and to decide what is important in our lives. Our work-life balance, family, health etc. is arguably the first aspect of our lives to be addressed.

However, given the subject of time management has been raised at a business meeting I thought I would address the issue from this perspective.

Before we can consider priorities we must first consider where are in relation to where we want to be. Why do we do what we do?

‘Why’ is a good place to start. What is your ‘why’ for starting a business or becoming self-employed? Where are you headed? What is the end game?

SELF EMPLOYED – BUSINESS OWNER
The majority of people I’ve met at networking meetings have been self employed rather than business owners. In other words, instead of a company employing them, they employ themselves. One has to ask why they decided to employ themselves or if they do have a business, why they decided to start that business.

For many people, leaving a corporate environment to go self-employed, it’s survival. To maybe replace the salary that I almost lived on.

You may have greater ambitions. Perhaps to build a certain size business and then to sell it. It’s important to decide this early, as the way you approach your business will be entirely different from your approach if you merely want to survive. The fact is that self-employed people don’t have a business to sell because without them in the business, there is no business. They are the business. They’re working in the business rather than on their business.

Of course, many of the decisions you make in the beginning comes down to the availability of capital. With sufficient funding you can afford to employ people to do the things that we’re not gifted at doing or to do the things that you really should not be doing.

FINANCE EQUITY – SWEAT EQUITY
We all bring equity to the business. Financial equity (maybe) and sweat equity (essential). Sweat equity is the skill, expertise, passion the founder has and the ability to manage all of the other aspects of growing that business.

Where is your enthusiasm and skill set and what else needs to be done to run and grow a successful business? How are you going to get the other things done so your skill set is not diluted or distracted? We really do need to be able to manage priorities.

WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
Why are you in business rather than seeking employment? What do you want that business to look like in the short medium and long term? And what does the end game look like? Is it going to be a lifestyle business? There’s nothing wrong with building a business around your chosen lifestyle.

Is it a business that you want to grow through partnerships, acquisitions or organic growth? How are you going to achieve this? What are you going to have to let go?

MARKETING
Marketing is a key element in business. What strategies will you follow? Branding, content, digital assets, traffic, social media, advertising, promotion etc. Who will execute, who will manage, measure and co-ordinate? If this is not your area of expertise, how are you going to get it done? Maybe it doesn’t get done. Maybe you plan to grow your business through networking and a website that your target audience never visits. Time effects your cash flow in business and in the early days, it’s not on your side.

When will you be generating enough business to afford to employ people?

In the short term, I guess most people will turn to apps. Time saving devices that will enable them to get more done at lower cost.

The best place to start is at the five pillars of a marketing strategy.

MARKETING STRATEGY
You need to get in front of your target audience. You need to grab their attention and get them to lean forward, out of curiosity or interest. You need to engage with that audience. You need to understand that audience. You need to ask questions of that audience to determine exactly what pains issues, problems, challenges or ambitions they have that you can help with your product or service and they will pay you money for.

As you grow your customer base, you need to be thinking of how you’re going to retain those customers by staying in touch, continuing to add value, so that they, you become an important part of the business relationship you create.

At that point, you may begin to ask them for introductions (referrals). Specific introduction to your target audience.

So now the question is, out of these five key areas which ones are you neglecting? Where are you losing sales, leaving money on the table? What should you address first?

Choose one, understand how to get to grip with this subject. Consider if you need help in this area and the apps. or software available to help you master this step in the marketing strategy funnel. The alternative is to continue to leak business and leave money on the table.

Paul Clegg is the founder of Marketing Crew. A different type of network for entrepreneurs who need to grow their business and want to get more from their marketing or where marketing is not their core skill.