Archive for July, 2009

Time management

July 31, 2009

time_rush

The Suites Collection’s business centers are located in River North and the North Loop, two of Chicago’s hottest neighborhoods for dining, theatre and shopping.  Tourists are ubiquitous in these areas.  On sidewalks, they pause for sightseeing or stop to get their bearings.  Because they are operating on leisure time, their casual gait sets a conflicting pace with business people rushing by.   The contrast reveals how the choices we make every day determine the speed in which we live out our lives.

“Time is money.” – Benjamin Franklin

When you are running your own business, effective time management is crucial.  Not only will it make you more productive, but it will allay burn out from impeding your success, happiness and health.  The expectation that we will multi-task from anywhere has removed boundaries that used to shelter our leisure time for ourselves. 

A balanced approach to time management incorporates goal setting, prioritization, managing interruptions, avoiding procrastination and effective scheduling.  How do you feel about your time management skills?  Take this test at mindtools.com to identify areas for improvement. 

Another resource, RescueTime, is a web-based analytics tool for professionals who want to be more productive.  Signing up is free and you’ll be up and running in a minute or two.  RescueTime appears as a dashboard on your computer that monitors the applications and websites you use.  This real-time feedback allows you to make immediate decisions to increase your productivity. 

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Other improvements may take longer.  The pursuit of effective time management can be life long.  You won’t always handle everything perfectly, but identifying your personalized strategy and employing it to the best of your ability will improve your business and your life.

Heroes

July 16, 2009

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A Canadian firm recently paid $1.68 million to charity for one lunch with Warren Buffet.  Their CEO cited the value of Buffet’s “wisdom and experience” as the reason they would spend so much money on one meal.  Whose opinions and advice would you pay for?  Is there someone in your life whose advice has value beyond measure but they give it to you for free?  When you are starting or leading a small business, engaging in dialogue with a personal hero is important.  Maintain an open dialogue with a mentor and it will make your business, and your life, better.

Often you will meet a mentor during the natural course of your professional life.  It could be a former boss or someone you know personally.  “At Their Knee” in Inc.com is an interesting article with interviews of successful business owners who were lucky enough to encounter great entrepreneurs in their early careers.  They credit the advice distilled to them from these mentors with their current success.  What’s striking is the way the mentees can recall the one or two snippets of advice that continue to drive their business decisions today.

If necessary, you can deliberately seek out and find a person with whom you can create this particular bond.  SCORE will put you in touch with an expert to answer specific questions that you have within 48 hours.  Another option would be to join a local business alliance.  One of the many unique benefits of working in a shared office environment like The Suites Collection is the networking potential.  Your adjacency to other entrepreneurs and business owners opens up the opportunity for mentorships to occur.   Even if the particulars of your business are distinctive, hearing about lessons learned by others in common situations can help you save time by not reinventing the wheel. 

We all need inspiration and encouragement.  Who are your real life heroes?  Remember to value your time with them and look forward to a day you can hopefully pass on your hard won wisdom and experiences to a younger generation.

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Start up support

July 2, 2009

support key

Looking for ways to expand or enhance your business acumen? There are plenty of options for support and advice from companies whose business it is to keep you in business. Continuing your education is a great idea. Even if your schedule is busy, you can always find quick tips in magazines, online and by reaching out into your local community.

Reading a magazine is a refreshing way to discover information without having to be in front of a computer screen.  While on the train or waiting at an airport, pick up a copy of Inc. Magazine, “The Magazine for Growing Companies”.  Also referred to as “The Small Business Bible”, Inc. Magazine uses real life examples of business strategies, case studies, successes and failures to highlight real world solutions. The current issue features Paul Graham whose company, Y Combinator, is a hybrid venture capital fund and business school that funds and advises early-stage businesses.  Another article captures and compares the inner workings at Google and Microsoft.   

Toolkit.com is an online business owners toolkit offering “total know how” for small businesses.  We’ve recommended this site in previous blogs, but they’ve revamped and improved their site recently which makes it even better.  News stories and links direct you to the latest developments affecting small businesses.  The 200 free business documents, templates, checklists and official government forms make it easy for you to access those items from one place.

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Your nearby college or university can also be a great resource.  Business and economics departments often conduct public outreach.  In Chicago, DePaul University’s Entrepreneurship Program at the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center offers consulting services, educational programs and resources for students and entrepreneurs throughout the city in the various stages of what they term the “Entrepreneurial Quest®”.

And if you want a good laugh to relieve you after your studies, read “Every Piece of Start Up Advice Is a Lie Including Mine” , an enlightening blog entry from one of Y Combinator’s participant entrepreneurs, Tony Right.