Putting in the hours


There is no doubt that the hours people put into their business can vary significantly. While some business owners work every possible hour due to business growth, staff shortages or unexpected challenges, others take every opportunity to avoid their business. If you overdo it either way, you may suffer costly consequences!

Working consistently long hours, without an end in sight can become a struggle.  You may experience burnout, your friendships and family relationships may suffer, and important events in your life may pass you by.    

On the other hand, if you continually take time off to follow your hobbies or just want to take it easy, it is likely you will become disconnected from your business.  If you are lucky enough to have a strong team who can work on, regardless of whether you are there or not, then you are to be congratulated.

For those of you who are just starting your business, there is a lot of hard work to be done and your time will come when you can reward yourself by working less hours.  My advice would be to plan on working at least 40-50 hours per week unless you are setting up a lifestyle business. 

Keep a note of your hours worked and allow yourself four weeks of leave a year, recording these as you take them.  This practice will ensure you remain focused on your business.

It is easy to convince yourself that it is okay to start late, leave early, or take days off but bad habits creep and this practice can really impact the bottom line.

Let’s look at a simple example of a tradesperson (a sole trader) who has a charge out rate of $80 per hour.  Allowing for holidays, sick days and public holidays we will use 47 weeks of work a year as a baseline.  By working less and less hours, this shows you the likely impact on your turnover:

Business owners who are really stretched for time should introduce a time management system, by prioritising tasks and delegating whenever it is appropriate.  At the end of each week, spend half an hour planning for the following week. 

A simple “to do” list will help you remember what is urgent and what needs to be done as time allows.  It doesn’t mean you will achieve everything on the list but is a way of reducing stress and hopefully will let you enjoy family and friends each weekend.  

At the start of each new week, it gives you something to focus on and a smoother transition from one week to the next.  You can buy pre-printed pads in many different formats to help with time management or simply make up a template that you like using. 

Stay connected and be present. Disconnection often leads to over-reaction when things don’t go well, and this isn’t fair on those around you. Don’t put your business on ‘auto-pilot’ unless you have built up a high performing team.


About Author

Brenda Williamson

Brenda Williamson runs business advisory service Brenda Williamson and Associates www.bwa.net.nz