Poor time management leaves SMEs with too little time to devote to business growth

Poor time management is the greatest obstacle to the growth of Britain’s business enterprises, claims new research commissioned by instantprint which found that sub-optimal time management is a major barrier to business growth. In an average working week a typical business owner finds just 12 hours to pursue activities dedicated to growing their enterprise. One in ten has less than an hour a week earmarked for business growth, while 8 percent say they struggle to find any time at all. A third of business owners polled are unable to find the time they need to run their business effectively, and 53 percent feel their minutes ebbing away under work admin and report writing. Thirty three percent need help managing their finances to save time, while 22 percent feel that responding to customer service concerns could be streamlined. And while the average business owner works a 38-hour week, ten hours of this time is dedicated to completing tasks which they consider a distraction from activities that encourage business growth.

The survey, which polled the time-keeping habits of 500 SME business owners also found that a quarter of business owners believe they could improve the efficiency of their SME by hiring more staff, while 1 in 10 want to automate the invoicing process to cut down on financial management. When it comes to the balance between old and new, 35 percent of business owners favour the priorities of their existing customers, compared to the 23 percent who prefer to seek out new opportunities. Just 16 percent said that increasing turnover was the most important aspect of their business, yet over half measure the success of their business based on their gross profit.

When asked to consider their most important business asset, one in two considered a good reputation in the industry a vital component of running a successful SME. This compares to 1 in 10 business owners who prioritised their product, and 16 percent who put their employees on top.

Forty percent have increased their business growth by expanding their target market, while a third diversified their product or service. One in two business owners feel most productive before 12pm, while just over a quarter operate at their best between midday and the 3pm mid-afternoon slump.

A study into work effectiveness has also revealed the key to a productive session: music, caffeine and concentration.

  • Forty six percent of those surveyed have a tea or coffee on the go to power them through their daily tasks,
  • A third put on their favourite playlist to get them in the zone.
  • Twenty seven percent of business owners hit their stride when working alone, compared to the seventeen percent who operate best as part of a team.