Starting a business is exciting but can no doubt be very stressful, especially in those first few years when you are trying to be across all bases. Based on my own case studies, I have found that many new business owners fall into the trap of spending too much time asking the wrong questions and focusing on the little things when their time would be better spend elsewhere.

I often hear a lot of new business owners say the words “there are not enough hours in a day” and what I say to that is, there are, but maybe you’re not using those hours correctly. They key to having ‘more hours’ is to work smarter and more efficiently.

Here is a list of the top time wasting habits I see constantly with small business owners. See if you can find yourself relating to one of them.

Asking the wrong questions 

When we start a business, it’s easy for us to get fixated on the little things. After all, now is the time to get all systems in place, so we want to be across every little detail. But focusing too much on this takes you away from planning the bigger things such as growth and development.

For a start-up business owner, the right questions would be along the lines of:

  • ‘How can I differentiate my marketing from my competitors?’
  • ‘What systems can I start my business with to enable fast growth?’,
  • ‘What are the 3 best questions to ask when interviewing potential staff?’

Getting the fundamentals and the structure locked in is phase 1. You can spend time on the little things later.

Asking too many people for advice

Seeking others opinions or advice is always great, but usually asking too many people means that you yourself aren’t confident in what’s at hand.   

Sometimes when we ask too many people for advice, subconsciously we are wanting them to do the job for us, usually this stems from fear of the unknown.

When asking for advice, my suggestion is to limit yourself to three people who know what you need. People with runs on the board who are not giving an opinion, but instead speaking base on experience and their success in business. And then, make a decision. Even if you’re still unsure, the best thing to do is to just start and then change the road as you go.

Being ‘stuck’ on a plan

While it is great to have marketing and business plans in place to help keep you on track, it is equally important to not be too rigid with them. Why? Because if you are not flexible with these, then how do you expect to be able to move and adapt with the trends that are relevant to you.

Business is all about being flexible and running with what is, as things will constantly chop and change as time goes by. They key here is to be flexible. As long as you don’t change the core mission of your business, use your plan as a guide, but don’t be afraid to veer in another direction if a better opportunity arises.

Focus on you, focus less on your competition.

Spending too much time focusing on your competition can create doubt and take your focus away from what you want to create.

Know that you are not your competition and vice versa. Even if you are selling a similar service or product, everyone is different in the way the execute their business and communicate with their customers.

Spend your time putting your energy into your own product and your own brand. Stay true to your original vision, create new ideas and strategies to take your business to the next level and keep your team happy and excited to be working for you. Business will come!

Getting Trapped In The Office

While it is easy to get lost in emails and the creation of documents and strategies, developing strong relationships with new staff and customers as well is very important, especially in the early phases of the business.

I recommend setting two specific times each day to check emails and outsourcing other low value tasks, this will free up your time and allow you to do what is going to be the most beneficial thing for your business – network!

Get out for a quick coffee and lunch each day and swap business cards with everyone you meet. After all, according to John C Maxwell ‘your network, determines your net worth’ so get out there and spend time developing strong industry connections. Also look for ways that you can help others – business is a two-way street after all!