Time Management – Tips For Three Types of Female Entrepreneurs

Whether a business owner has myriad responsibilities in addition to running her business or she simply has an overwhelming volume of business-related tasks to complete, she undoubtedly will benefit from improving her time management skills. Increasing efficiency and productivity will benefit the business as well as the entrepreneur’s overall work-life satisfaction.

A recent study reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Based on professional market research of more than 1,000 women in business, this study shows that each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business and therefore each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines three of the five types and provides tips for managing their time more effectively for the greater success of the company and for the overall well-being of the business owner.

Merry Jane. This entrepreneur is usually building a part-time or “flexible time” business which gives her a creative outlet (whether she’s an ad agency consultant or she makes beautiful artwork) that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule. She may have a day-job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. She realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she’s happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments.

A multi-faceted woman, Merry Jane is adept at multi-tasking and has a true desire to meet every one of her obligations well and with care. Overall, the Merry Jane entrepreneurs we’ve spoken with feel satisfied with the balance they’ve found between their work and personal lives, and would like to increase their business’ income without putting in significantly more time. Of the five types of entrepreneurs, Merry Jane is least in need of time management advice – however, following are some tips she may consider to increase her profitability without giving up her precious time freedom. Discipline and systems are key in all aspects of Merry Jane’s life – and she can further implement those assets to maintain her satisfaction while increasing her business’ bottom line.

• Marketing. Efficiency is the most crucial element of Merry Jane’s marketing systems. They need to be effective without requiring a large time investment on Merry Jane’s part. To ensure marketing efficiency, Merry Jane must identify her target market and create a clear marketing message (a quick and easy way to identify her target market is to ask existing customers what they like most about working with her). Marketing systems that do not require significant time investments include social networking and referral/affiliate marketing.
• Hiring. Merry Jane enjoys that her business allows her to bring her talents and creativity to bear in serving her customers. Once her new marketing systems increase her workload (and therefore her income), she may find it practical to hire a helper or two to take care of the business tasks she finds less desirable, such as bookkeeping or errand-running. Doing so will allow Merry Jane to delve into her creativity and maintain the time freedom she wants and needs in order to meet all her obligations (including her own well-being).

Accidental Jane is a successful, confident business owner who never actually set out to start a business. Instead, she may have decided to start a business due to frustration with her job or a layoff and then she decided to use her business and personal contacts to strike out on her own. Or, she may have started making something that served her own unmet needs and found other customers with the same need, giving birth to a business. Although Accidental Jane may sometimes struggle with prioritizing what she needs to do next in her business, she enjoys what she does and is making good money. About 18% of all women business owners fit the Accidental Jane profile.

While many Accidental Jane business owners run their businesses successfully for years, striking the careful balance of enough, but not too much work, others aren’t as certain of what they want. This makes sense, since many Accidental Janes did not set out to start a business, and they often simply respond to the market’s demand for services. For these women, the future may present some tough choices – and how she deals with these choices will determine whether she remains an Accidental Jane or develops into another type of business owner. She is so good at what she does that the demand for her services will likely increase over time. So how can she maintain the time-freedom lifestyle she so enjoys?

• Filter. If her workload becomes overwhelming, Accidental Jane will have to begin saying, “no” to at least some new projects or clients. To decide which projects or clients to take on, and which to pass on, she can create a “non-negotiables” filter to determine whether a project or client meets the criteria she develops. For example, if it’s important for her to enjoy working with her clients, she may pass on a new client with whom she doesn’t click. If it’s important to her to stretch her creative muscles, she may take on only projects that demand that of her. In this way, Accidental Jane can ensure she’s working only on projects she enjoys, while acquiring only the amount of work she wants. Similarly, Accidental Jane can create a list of personal tasks she really enjoys and tasks she doesn’t care for. If possible, she can hire someone to take on the tasks she doesn’t care for, leaving her more time to work on what she enjoys.
• Pricing. It’s great to be in demand! If Accidental Jane begins to feel overwhelmed, she may consider examining her pricing and raising her rates. Whether she started her business with intentionally low rates and then never raised them, or she resisted raising her rates because she didn’t want clients to question her value, if the demand for her services has increased beyond what’s comfortable for her, Accidental Jane likely has room for increases now. To determine where her prices fit within her industry, she can research published prices or ask trusted customers how her competitors’ prices compare.

Tenacity Jane is an entrepreneur with an undeniable passion for her business, and one who tends to be struggling with cash flow. As a result, she’s working longer hours, and making less money than she’d like to be. Nevertheless, Tenacity Jane is bound and determined to make her business a success. At 31% of women in business, Tenacity Janes are the largest group of female entrepreneurs.

Of the Tenacity Jane business owners interviewed, 90 percent reported dissatisfaction with cash flow, and the majority said they were unhappy with revenue, business costs or personal income from their business. Despite these financial markers, most Tenacity Jane business owners work longer hours than they’d like to and frequently feel frustrated or stressed. It is possible to shift this balance so the hard work and long hours pay off.

• Focus. Our research revealed that many Tenacity Jane business owners were running in several directions at once. Their ultimate vision included multiple streams of income, and these entrepreneurs were often trying to activate all those streams at the same time. To ensure that her time is well-spent and to get her business on more solid financial footing, Tenacity Jane must find a focus. A thorough examination of her business concept and model (what, exactly, is her business offering customers, and is it possible to make enough money with the current business model?) can help her determine whether she needs to make any changes. She can focus on creating a “point of entry” for the business – what does it do? – and then develop 1 to 3 benefits (what does the customer get from what the business does?) to go with it. Not only can Tenacity Jane use these ideas for marketing, they will also help her develop a true focus so she can work more efficiently.
• Set Goals. For Tenacity Jane, who is often exhausted by her ongoing financial struggles, even developing goals may seem overwhelming – because actually reaching them may seem improbable. Once she’s determined her business’ direction, though, setting and achieving goals will keep her focused and efficient so the time she does spend on her business is effective. The key is to start making steady progress, one step at a time. For starters, she can choose 1 moderate, or up to 3 small goals to work toward during a one month or 6 month interval. focusing on the goals that will have the biggest impact on her business and life. With practice, goal-setting (and achieving!) will become life’s paradigm.

While strong time management skills can streamline a business’ systems and increase its profitability, they also can improve an entrepreneur’s work-life balance and create overall satisfaction. Every type of business owner can improve her time management abilities – and therefore her level of happiness in her work and her life.