Mapping Out Your Firm’s Success

Planning long term while working short term requires an effective strategic plan

SWOTs, the company capitalized on an opportunity to meet the demand from small businesses for customized applications, a shift from its original mission of technology consulting. The new direction “has certainly changed the dynamics of the business in terms of whom we need to hire, how we operate, et cetera,” says Lumpkin. “But it’s change that we think makes sense based on our strategy.”

As a self-employed person with, perhaps, a small staff, executing your strategic plan requires you to use your time judiciously.

“For a small business owner, it is very easy to become trapped and to get too close to things,” says Odette Pollar, president of Time Management Systems in Oakland, California, and author of 365 Ways to
Simplify Your Work Life (Dearborn, $8.95). “You can also spend too much time on one project or spend more time than is needed.”

Ronald E. Guzik, author of The Inner Game of Entrepreneuring: 10 Steps to Mastering the Small Business Challenge (Dearborn, $18.95), says time management is about increasing your personal productivity.

Pollar and Guzik offer these tips for making the most of each business day:

  • Write down your short- and long-term goals. Make a commitment to continuously revise your goals.
  • Devise a plan of action. Achieving each goal begins with a step. Write down each one. If you find yourself faltering, your steps may be too big. Break them down into smaller ones.
  • Jot down daily to-do lists, where each item is given a priority. If done correctly and followed religiously, to-do lists are the cornerstone of a good personal productivity system. Note what works well and what doesn’t. Evaluate what it took to get through your to-do list. What prevented you from getting it done? Determine when you’re most productive and why.
  • Fine-tune routines and schedules. Many entrepreneurs started their ventures, in part, to escape the “straitjacket” of routine, which is fine up to a point. A business life too unstructured, however, doesn’t make for productivity. Routines keep you on track, so set aside time for carrying out specific tasks.
  • Meet with colleagues or associates (who are not your employees) on a regular basis. Obtain resources and leads from them that will help you manage your business better and expand it. (For a list of resources see
  • Use drop off and delivery services. The small fee you pay is worth the time you’ll save making numerous trips yourself.
  • Keep things as simple as possible, especially your personal organization system. Don’t upgrade software just because a new version came out. If you have already mastered the old version, stick with that.
  • Outsource where appropriate. For example, hire a payroll service or a bookkeeper. If you have a project coming up, outsource administrative help.

For Curtis Richardson, founder and president of Richardson Safety Equipment Inc., a $2 million, 15-year-old wholesale supply business based in High Point, North Carolina, time |management means delegating responsibilities to any of his five employees. And he has no qualms about assigning duties because he has a good staff that works well together. Delegation allows him to seek

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