The biggest obstacle to the growth of Britain’s business enterprises is poor time management, according to research from, instantprint.
The study revealed sub-optimal time management as a major barrier to business growth among the 500 SME business owners polled.
One in ten has less than an hour a week earmarked for business growth, while 8% say they struggle to find any time at all.
Co-founder of instantprint, James Kinsella, who commissioned the research, said: “We all know how it feels to fight the clock. There are only so many hours in the day to get everything done and SMEs are feeling the squeeze.
“It is interesting to see from the research that, while factors such as admin and staff management have an impact on productivity, it is the management of our hours, minutes and seconds that have the biggest effect on the running of a successful enterprise.”
The study found:
- 53% feel their minutes ebbing away under work admin and report writing
- 33% were unable to find the time they need to run their business effectively
- 33% could use a hand managing their finances to save time
- 22% feel that responding to customer service concerns could be streamlined.
While the average business owner works a 38-hour week, ten hours of this time is dedicated to completing tasks they consider a distraction from activities that encourage business growth.
A quarter of business owners believe they could improve the efficiency of their SME by hiring more staff, while 1 in 10 want to automate the invoicing process to cut down on financial management. When it comes to the balance between old and new, 35% of business owners favour the priorities of their existing customers, compared to the 23% who prefer to seek out new opportunities. Just 16% said that increasing turnover was the most important aspect of their business, yet over half measure the success of their business based on their gross profit.
When asked to consider their most important business asset, one in two considered a good reputation in the industry a vital component of running a successful SME. This compares to 1 in 10 business owners who prioritised their product, and 16% who put their employees on top.
A study into work effectiveness has also revealed the key to a productive session: music, caffeine and concentration. Of those surveyed, 46% have a tea or coffee on the go to power them through their daily tasks, and a third put on their favourite playlist to get them in the zone. And if you have a work slog ahead of you, solitary confinement is the way to go – 27% cent of business owners hit their stride when working alone, compared to the 17% who operate best as part of a team.
“An SME is a composite of complex moving parts and systems, and sometimes it can be difficult to make sense of it all,” added Mr Kinsella.
“Every business is unique, but improving time management and optimising working hours can only bring positive outcomes to the UK’s SMEs.”