Time: The Biggest Barrier to Business Growth

Anna Roberts

Mar 2016 ⋅ 3 min read

Photo showing half of a wall clock with the hour hand just past 2

The average entrepreneur (if there is such a thing!) works 63% more hours than the typical employee.

You might have started your own business with dreams of setting your own working hours and taking time off to enjoy your first million, but the statistics show that first you'll need to toil for a few years to reach that point!

Your time is the most valuable resource at your fingertips - and it's often the limiting factor when making business decisions.

Common barriers to growth

A recent survey of UK SMEs identified the following factors as the most common obstacles to business growth:

  1. The UK tax system
  2. Lack of bank lending
  3. Too much red tape
  4. The cost of running a business
  5. Late payments or cashflow difficulties

Now let's look at the root causes of these issues.

The UK tax system has become kinder to businesses over the years, but tax is clearly a cost that businesses must take into consideration when managing growth. Having more time on your hands can help a little with this problem - you can use it to investigate grants and subsidies, for example.

Bank lending remains a huge obstacle to SME growth, as banks remain cautious about lending to all but the safest of bets. Again, having a free couple of hours can help you investigate alternative finance sources and spruce up your business plan to make your company more attractive to lenders.

Red tape is another inevitability in business, but most of the costs associated with it come from the time spent dealing with paperwork and reporting.

'The cost of running a business' is a little vague, but we can take this obstacle to include staff costs, rent, energy, equipment and other ongoing expenses.

Perhaps if you had a few extra hours a week, you could improve procurement and cut some costs by seeking new suppliers, or consolidating them to streamline the procurement process.

Late payments continue to plague small businesses, particularly those in the construction supply chain. Having some time to methodically chase payments over the phone can help you claim the payments you're entitled to.

As you've seen, almost all of the common obstacles to business growth share a direct link to time restraints. So, what can you do to free up more time?

A blue computer mouse on top of overlapping printouts

Finding an extra hour

It's easy to say that you should be more organised, de-clutter your desk and combine your daily run with your commute to the office, but you've probably tried these rather basic ideas already.

Here are some suggestions for freeing up larger chunks of time, leaving you with extra hours to work on growing your business instead of just keeping it rolling along the same path. Not all of these ideas will be applicable to your business, but they might give you some inspiration regardless.

  • Make a list of the most time-consuming business tasks at your company. Look at each task in turn and think about how you might automate them, or use software to cut the time they take. For example, if you work in retail you could look at automating purchase order generation each day or week by setting product quantity thresholds in retail management software. If your business uses shifts to manage employees, think about using staff rota software - like RotaCloud!
  • Consider hiring extra staff to help with admin. You may be reluctant to take on the cost of an additional staff member, but the benefits can be huge. By hiring someone who's an expert at particular tasks, they'll be completed more quickly and with fewer errors. Put your free time to good use.
  • Avoid interruptions. If you're working on an important project, let your mobile go to voicemail and turn off email notifications. Taking phone calls or responding to emails shifts your focus and breaks your concentration.

You know that your time is valuable - and it's understandably frustrating when you realise it's being taken up by tedious tasks that aren't contributing to the progression and growth of your business.

If creating the weekly rota is one of those tasks, RotaCloud can help you out. Give our 30-day free trial a shot to see how much time you can save - and don't forget to keep checking back for more business growth tips on the RotaCloud blog.