At the Startline
Rob Laidlaw

The word business came from the root word busy.  Basically, business is the act of being busy, or busyness. Therefore, the answer to your lifelong question is “Yes!”… if you want to run a successful business, expect to be consistently and incredibly busy.

However, is being busy equivalent to productivity? Are the things you are spending time on directly related to the growth of your business, for the development of your processes? Are you smart in handling time or is time outsmarting you?

New Zealand is not known for it’s high productivity standards, as a matter of fact, it’s known for the opposite, according to the report: “Productivity by numbers”. We are stuck in first gear. 

Business owners like you and I have this idea that spending most of our time on administration is the best way to go. However, it is equally important that we allocate our precious time to both business development and operations.

Why Time Tracking Benefits Your Business

In business, time is equivalent to money. The more time you spend on non-revenue generating tasks, the more you are wasting away your money. Imagine time being your cold cash capital for your ideal venture. When you perform a task and spend more time on it than required, it basically means you are also spending more money than you have in your budget. Ideal? No, not at all. Tolerable? Definitely not!

We want to learn the art of controlling our finances in business, but we are also very frustrated about taking complete ownership of our time. It’s one of the most fundamental resources in business that we often spend and take for granted, and is wasted through unnecessary procrastination. But in reality, there is one simple way to make the most of time and master the art of spending it – and that is knowing how you really spend your time.

Time tracking has a lot of business benefits you may not be aware of right now. It may seem like keeping a record of your time is just another task that you have to work on and therefore may actually add to your already long to-do list. What most fail to realize is that time tracking instead makes processes, achieving goals, and assessment of the effectiveness of your business a lot easier.

The 5 Advantages of Time Tracking

1. Tracking the amount of effort and expenses a particular project is taking up

How much time you and your staff spend on a certain task for a client or a project provides you a picture of the difficulty of the assignment and the amount of money you are spending on it. It also provides a better idea of the right amount to charge clients for products or services you offer, as it measures the statistics of your productivity and expenses.

2. Tracking how much finance is being consumed in business

In general, time tracking gives a general view of the actual financial expenditure of the entire business. How much time does it take for your staff to finish something before they can move on to their next task? Are they consuming more resources or working overtime to accomplish a project? The resources and the time the workforce spend translates to how much you are spending for your operations

3. Shows processes which are efficient and those that need improvement

Are the manual tasks taking up too much time? Is it time to automate them in order for your staff to focus on more important, complex duties? Is assigning a team leader per department working well for their delegation, task distribution, and time management? Is there a need to apply micromanagement or are the people working for you doing well under little supervision? Time tracking shows you which processes are working well, and which are not and need to be modified or reviewed. 

4. Shows employee satisfaction

Are you possibly burning your people out? Are they spending too much time on a task that seems very tedious and therefore might require assistance or additional help? Are they getting enough rest and coaching sessions or are they too preoccupied to even think of professional development? Keep in mind that your employees determine the success of your client relationships and services, and their satisfaction and well-being means a lot to your business.

5. How do business people like us spend their time?

Running a business is complicated and can be excruciatingly exhausting. You want to be on top of your game all the time and put your hands on every aspect of the business – administration, management, sales, client relations, IT, accounting, etc.. But the truth is, you only have two hands and unfortunately, if you carry more than you can handle, chances are you’re going to drop more than one of them.

Business Development vs Operational Time

So, where should we focus our time then? Do we concentrate on business development or do we keep our eyes on operations?

According to a research from The Alternative Board (TAB), only 32% of business owners actually spend their time working ON their business and therefore unintentionally spends more time working IN the business

This means most of us are focused on the day-to-day operations – sales, customer service, marketing, etc. – which are tasks that can be delegated to staff instead of management duties and strategic activities that will boost growth.

While there is definitely nothing wrong with tracking daily operations and making sure you  have specific updates on everything, this should not compromise business growth. Therefore, you should aim to have an equal distribution of time allocation between the administrative duties and strategical focus and overseeing. Hit two birds with one stone. And beware that the birds are not instead pecking on the stone – which is you!

Improve your productivity, with the following tips! 

  1. Complete urgent tasks (those that specifically require YOUR attention) first
  2. Share your targets to your staff and let them know of your expectations when you delegate tasks
  3. Invest in your own professional development
  4. Assign administrative duties to your trusted members
  5. Always have a plan 
  6. Use time tracking tools
  7. Review your statistics with your staff and include them in the assessment of what went well and what need to be improved

 Here are some tools that are highly recommended for time tracking, but also have other features built in.

Time tracking tools that do exactly that

If you would happily hire an accountant to do your bookkeeping, or pay for a bookkeeping tool to manage and track all your finances in order to make sure you’re not spending more than you should, or that you are not losing money along the process – then why not invest in something that would also help you manage and track your time expenditure?

There are a lot of available software options you can use to track the time spent on specific tasks, per employee, per day. Some offer amazing free features and also have the option of using advanced settings through paid subscriptions.

1. Harvest

The Harvest app is ideal for team management of tasks and time tracking them. It can be accessed both online and offline and through different devices – be ityour desktop computer, or your mobile phone. Through this application, team members can keep a record of their time spent and send a statistical view to the administrator for a clearer and more specific summarized view. There are also lots of integrations available to link into other software  tools that you may use, such as Xero for invoices.

2. FreshBooks

This particular accounting software application allows the user to track time on specific tasks and add details on a tracked session directly into invoices. It can also be accessed through different devices. FreshBooks can also track expenses against projects, and monitor actual costs against estimates.

freshbooks project management 3. MinuteDock

This is a really simple tool to accurately track the amount of time you and your team spend on tasks. There is integration with Xero and other accounting packages for streamlined billing to clients. And most importantly it includes a powerful time reporting tool so you know exactly where time has been spent from day to day.

minute dock

You don’t have to get distracted with another software tool in your business, although when properly deployed they will be a worthwhile investment. We currently just use Zoho Sheets, an online spreadsheet, with formulas to calculate minutes into decimal numbers that automatically add up to a total for monthly payments.

Although I must admit that I’m planning to investigate the use of time sheets within Zoho People, as this will be a better long term solution to track productivity within our business as we grow the team.

Whichever way you track time, it is definitely an important part of any business – especially for a business owner or entrepreneur – so that you can catch productivity flaws before they waste too much of your valuable time.

Arise Efficiency Insights

We’ve created this new “efficiency insights” section to our website where you will read everything about business success and business efficiency solutions! 

These next few month here at Arise it is all about task management and getting things ticked off your to-do list. We share our favourite tools, tricks and insights with you to help you become an effective entrepreneur with enough time for holidays, family time and me-time… well, YOU-time that is.

And, as always, we’re here to help you further on your journey of efficiency. So, sign up below for our efficiency updates to keep you informed on trends, insights, tips and tricks for your business success! 

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