Monday 22 January 2018

It's possible to have time on your hands - but only if you learn to delegate

Problem solver for small business: Businessman Feargal Quinn answers your questions

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Q. I run my own medium-sized business but there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Have you any great tips on time management?

A. Well the first and most important tip will seem obvious . . . there are only 24 hours in the day and no matter what you do you are not going to change that fact. It is a matter of seeing how good a job you can do on balancing your work time during this period.

I listened to someone giving a talk on time management recently who first asked how many people in the room had a "to do" list. Approximately 50pc of the people raised their hands. Then he asked how many people had a "not to do" list . . . no one raised their hand! I had never thought about time management like that before, but it made so much sense.

Start by asking yourself the question "where are you adding most value to the business" and that will help guide you on what you should and shouldn't be doing.

Like most other business owners, when you started your business, I'm sure you had to do absolutely everything. However, as the business moves on, you need to move on and develop new skills. To do this you need to hand over some responsibility to others.

Delegation is a skill in itself and is not a matter of simply throwing a task to the first person you meet. It needs to be planned and will probably take lots of time at the beginning before you can train someone else to take something over.

This can be off-putting for many business owners who take the view that it's quicker to do it themselves, but if you keep up that mentality you will become stretched to your limit.

I know that during my Superquinn career, I realised that there was only so much I could do myself and I had to learn to let go and empower those around me. It was my job to set the direction and inspire others who in turn made it all happen.

That's the true test of your time management skills so, in summary, your first step on this journey is to start writing your "not to do" list today!

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Q. I won an award for one of my craft products that I sell through larger retailers in Ireland and online. I am not quite sure what to do next now that I have won the award, any advice?

A. That's a fantastic achievement! Congratulations. Winning an award is one thing, but what you do with it thereafter is an entirely different matter often missed by some recipients. There is a great sense of pride when you are given an award, but like you, many recipients wonder what to do next.

Start by preparing a simple press release that tells the story of your business and the background to the award. It is also important that you include a photograph. Next, go through all of the magazines, newspapers, etc and note the names of journalists who place particular emphasis on craft and creativity, get their contact details and send off your press release. The Craft Council of Ireland will be able to help you with some contacts also.

One of the challenges nowadays with awards is that there are so many it tends to be a continuous flow of information.

So, one of the things I would advise you to think about is what is different about your business and the inspiration of your craft pieces compared to others.

The more of that you can get across in the press release, the more likely you are to get coverage.

It isn't terribly exciting just to say you won an award, but it is a lot more interesting if you have other pieces of your story you can add to that.

You should also get in touch with some of the breakfast TV shows, afternoon shows and programmes like 'Nationwide'.

If your production process is very visual, you could offer to go into studio and do a very quick demo of something.

Keep in mind that newspapers and TV shows are producing material very often five or seven days a week and it is hard to keep interesting material coming through.

If you can turn your story into a piece that would be of interest to viewers or readers, then it greatly increases your chances of getting coverage.

Don't forget to contact all of your existing trade buyers and also those with whom you don't do business and just casually remind them that you have been given this award.

It will cement your relationship with existing buyers but also hopefully stimulate new buyers into stocking your product.

Keep up the great work and best wishes for the future.

Irish Independent

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