Time Management: A Burgeoning Challenge for the Ecommerce Entrepreneur

by Rakuten Super Logistics | eCommerce, eCommerce Strategy

In an age where the speed of ecommerce seems to be increasing daily, one of the most significant challenges confronting online entrepreneurs is managing a valued, finite resource: their time.

For today’s entrepreneur, understanding how to prioritize ‘deliverables’ and manage a daily schedule can mean the difference between building a successful ecommerce enterprise and facing financial losses.

Of course, given the vast diversity of American entrepreneurialism there is no ‘one size fits all’ template for successful time management. However, as with so many other aspects in the marketplace, there are many valuable time management tips for entrepreneurs, straight from those who both study—and successfully practice—this important business skill.

Time Management? There’s An App For That

It sometimes feels as though there is an app available for virtually everything under the sun; the reason for that is likely because there (almost) is one. For busy ecommerce businesspeople, using time management apps to help ensure that important tasks are completed (on time) can make a complex business day a little less complicated.

The popular apps designed to help simplify a busy business schedule include:

  • ‘Remember the Milk’:  Dubbed as a ‘smart to-do app for busy people’, this app is designed to create tasks and subtasks and prioritize them by importance. The app also allows the user to sync up with other devices, thereby making it possible to share task lists with others who may be working on the same project
  • RescueTime:  Makers of this app say it’s designed to “help you understand your daily habits, so you can focus and be more productive.” The app runs securely in the background on either computer or mobile devices, and tracks time spent on applications and websites thereby providing the user with an accurate picture of their business day; it then produces detailed reports and data based on those activities. For busy ecommerce professionals, this app might prove a valuable resource to clarify and answer the omnipresent question of ‘where their day went’.
  • Freshbooks:  A cloud-based invoicing and accounting program designed for small businesses, this app allows users to track billable hours with an embedded time tracker. The app’s designers say it automates tasks like invoicing, organizing expenses, tracking users’ time and following up with clients with ‘just a few clicks.’ Since it is cloud-based, the app can be securely accessed from any desktop, tablet or mobile device.
  • Kanbanchi:  The makers of this app claim that it can be “deployed in 30 seconds, mastered in 5 minutes and costs only $7.95”—and that the app is the “most highly rated app on Google marketplace in the task management category…” With a notes section, color tags, and email notification updates, Kanbanchi works in the user’s browser, and allows you to drag-and-drop a board of tasks while organizing them by their importance.
First Step in Solving The Time Management Problem? Acknowledge It!

Ask any medical professional and they will confirm that you cannot solve a problem until there is a recognition by the patient that the issue, in fact, is real.

The same can also be said for businesspeople: in order to ‘solve’ a business issue, there has to first be an acknowledgment by the businessperson that he or she has a problem—in this case, that problem is the challenge of successful time management.

In its 2017 Ecommerce Survey, Shopify noted that “the age-old struggles of time management and stress management continue to plague ecommerce entrepreneurs”.

Not surprisingly, the Shopify survey also found that only 14 percent of respondents gave themselves a ‘five-star rating’ in the category of ‘Time Management/Stress Management and Entrepreneurship’.  By comparison, 34 percent of respondents gave themselves a three-star rating in this category, 16 percent rated themselves as two-stars and 11 percent of ecommerce respondents saw themselves as only deserving one star in time management.

Given the physical and mental challenges involved with entrepreneurial time/stress management, the Shopify study also identified the growing popularity of “self care” as one method of coping with this challenge.

The link between managing stress, mental health and successful time management has been increasingly recognized in recent years; in Canada, for example, more than 30 percent of disability claims—and 70 percent of disability costs—are attributed to mental health problems or illness; the related costs of these stress management/mental health issues is significant—adding up to approximately $51 billion (Cdn) per year, with half of that amount coming directly from workplace losses. Industry observers say the numbers, and challenges, are similar in most Western nations. It’s obvious that there’s an industry-wide need for successful time management tips for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Managing Ecommerce Priorities—It’s About Time

Industry experts agree that there are a number of relatively simple time management tips for entrepreneurs that can be employed to help busy eCommerce professionals mitigate the stress that often accompanies running a successful business.

Startupnation.com recently asked several senior ecommerce executives to proffer advice on how they manage their most precious resource: their time.

These time management tips for entrepreneurs are offered by several leading eCommerce executives. They include:

  1. Sticking to a schedule & tracking everything:  Twitter founder Jack Dorsey explained that it’s “very important to be disciplined and practiced when it come to time (management).” Dorsey said his time management skills relied on “theming” his days—as in, designating a theme for each day of the week (i.e. Tuesday: Products; Wednesday: Marketing/Communications; Thursday:Developers/Partnerships, etc.)
  2. Assess Time Expenditure and Measure Productivity:  Most business people are familiar with the importance of making a list of tasks—but it’s also important to measure the amount of time each task requires, and then determining whether the amount of time required is in keeping with the importance of the task; and as priorities change, as they inevitably will, this assessment should be revisited on a regular basis.
  3. Communicate Frequently With Employees:  It’s true that ‘no man is an island’, and nowhere is it truer than in the competitive ecommerce landscape; productive use of employees’ time requires a consistent flow of information. The fact that communicating with staff is imperative to successful time management may appear to be a ‘no-brainer’, but all too often busy ecommerce executives may forget to share critical information that will allow their staff to properly prioritize their respective schedules—ultimately resulting in less than optimal time management.

A wise man once said that perhaps the two most valuable resources known to Man are land and time—as both are most definitely finite.

As the eCommerce marketplace continues its rapid expansion, successful entrepreneurs are increasingly recognizing that optimizing use of that finite number of weekly work hours is among the most important tasks required to ensure their continued success. If you need some more time management tips for entrepreneurs, get in contact with Rakuten SL about managing your order fulfillment today!