Five business owners offer their best advice for becoming more productive — and finding the right work-life balance.
By: Jane Porter
For small-business owners who run more than one business, time management is of the utmost importance. We talked to five serial entrepreneurs to learn how they oversee their businesses and still find time for their personal lives.
Here are their tips:
Joe Adkins, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
•Realty Referral Alliance, a real-estate referral company
•Global Asset Management Group, a money management firm
•The Realty Factor, a real estate agency
•The Rental Factor, a property management company
Adkins’ Tip: Keep a clean desk and limit meetings.
Walk into Joe Adkins’ office and you won’t find a scrap of paper on his desk. That’s because Adkins scans and shreds all his documents as they arrive in his office. “The more folders there are on your desk,” he says, “the less productive you are because you’re looking at all these stacks of things that need to get done.” Adkins also limits his time on the phone and in meetings, relying on email as much as possible. Three years ago, for example, he stopped running weekly training meetings for employees and instead created training videos that he distributes by email.
Becky McCray, Hopeton, Okla.
•Allen’s Retail Liquors
•McCray Cattle, a cattle ranch
•Tourism Currents, a social-media training site for tourism professionals
•McCray and Associates, a municipal grant writing and consulting service
McCray’s Tip: Set weekly goals.
Becky McCray’s four businesses couldn’t be more diverse. On any given day, she might have to count liquor store inventory, run a conference call on new training products for her tourism business, repair a windmill on her cattle ranch and update her consulting website. McCray sets a weekly goal for each business to make sure she doesn’t neglect any of them. She then organizes her weekly schedule around achieving those goals. “Until you know where you’re trying to go with each business,” she says, “you have no way to effectively schedule your time.”
Arik Kislin, New York, N.Y.
•Gansevoort Hotel Group, a boutique hotel company
•Ocean Blue Management, a yacht management company
•JetFlite International, a charter jet and aircraft management and sales company
Kislin’s Tip: Thoroughly train your top lieutenants.
When Arik Kislin hires someone into top management, the new executive literally sits beside him for a month to learn how he runs the business. By thoroughly training his top people, Kislin can trust them to make decisions when he’s absent. “When they are originally hired,” he says, “I keep them very close to the vest with me.” He runs a tight ship with only 12 people staffing his core office in New York. And they know he has a low tolerance for wasting time. “You are either working hard or you are out,” he says.
Drew Sharma, Newton, Mass.
•Digiventures Holdings LLC, an e-commerce holding company
•ClickVentures Holdings LLC, a personal finance and insurance holding company
Sharma’s Tip: Keep your to-do list close at hand.
Through his two holding companies, Drew Sharma manages 80 websites, from Cookies.com to TravelInsurance.com. He gets up at 5:30 every morning to start work and immediately turns to his task list, which he always keeps updated and close at hand. He uses iCloud, Apple’s cloud-storage technology to sync the list on all of his devices. “There’s nowhere I go in the world where I don’t have my iPhone, iPad or laptop,” Sharma says. “The task list is always with me.” He also often shares the list with his 20 employees to make sure they’re on the same page.
Alma Steger, Phoenix, Ariz.
•Alma & Co., a direct seller of fashion jewelry
•Untitled Advertising & PR
Steger’s Tip: Schedule personal time like a can’t-miss business meeting.
Not only does Alma Steger run two businesses, but she also has a one-year-old at home to care for. Finding time to fit work and family into each day is a constant struggle. But as busy as her days are, Steger always schedules an hour of personal time, whether it’s going for a walk or reading. She believes that hour helps boost her productivity when she returns to work. “It’s easy for entrepreneurs to be working 24 hours a day,” she says. “Oftentimes, the best ideas come during your down time.”