This post by guest bloger Sarah Katyal appears as part of our series Small Business 500

tips for small business

When it comes to big picture strategy, I find a little inspiration from musicians who make the transition from artist to entrepreneur.

Take Jay-Z. He's a "business, man". He works with several entrepreneurs, invests in new ventures, runs restaurant chains, has a successful music career, is a father and husband and sits on several boards while attending meetings with the likes of Warren Buffet. He's constantly being pulled in different directions for various business lines he's a part of. How does he do it so effectively? 

Putting aside his millions of dollars, and no shortness of staff — let's bring the focus to your small business scenario: You're either trying to juggle multiple business lines, opportunities, internal departments and more. Perhaps you have your current business, volunteer commitments, external engagements, recruitment and so much more. How do you manage all of this? Where do you start to focus

1. First things first, prioritize. 

When it comes to your business, you prioritize by focusing on: revenue, engagement and growth. Select whichever one you need to prioritize within a certain timeframe and set milestones.  

Ask yourself: Which goals need to be accomplished now? Why is each one important? Will it affect something else, and to what degree? How committed am I to this priority?

Clearly identify your role within each of these priorities. Are you leading a certain meeting, a participant, or just coordinating details of a family commitment? Each priority usually means different time commitments and energy levels, and this is a great way to test your limits. 

2. Hire a strong team 

If you don't already have a team, look to find at least 1-2 talented people that can join your team. It's impossible to micromanage every aspect of your business (especially if you're managing more than one), and investing in talented people will give you a strong return in the long run

3. Use your tools effectively 

The plethora of digital tools available today aren't just there for fun, they're meant to make your life and business more manageable. You could find free tools online for accounting, CRM, social media, managing meetings, storing information in the cloud or even set up automated customer service (and a bonus - an online personal assistant). I always suggest using your calendar as your most important tool. Most importantly, be consistent and share this information with your team

4. Pulse Check 

Set up a quick daily or weekly 'pulse check' with your team and use this time to check up on the milestones you set earlier. Talk about small challenges, innovations to internal processes or even your product/service at a high level for 10 minutes. Have a monthly meeting to review your business in more detail.  

This is also a great way to ensure that your legal, accounting and financial statuses are all in check. Know the legality associated with running multiple business lines, revenue streams or opportunities that you plan on pursuing. Ensure projects are not in conflict. Finally, check your cash flow, can you pay for everything now? Will you have enough money to manage your business in 30-60-90 days? 

You'll see where you need prioritize your time and funds with these pulse checks. 

5. Balance 

Balance is the toughest business challenge you'll face as an entrepreneur. However, its not a difficult one to tackle. In addition to using the above strategies, make sure you get enough sleep and set aside time for yourself.  Robin Sharma, a leading business guru, talks about sleeping early, waking up at 5 am and following this regime*: 

Drink a glass of water 
Exercise for 30 minutes 
State your affirmations for the day 
Spend the rest of the time focused on your work (i.e. check your emails, write your report, review your finances)
Set aside some time to brainstorm

While you may not choose this exact routine, you'd be surprised at what you can accomplish by waking up early and following a routine. There's no 'noise' in the morning hours and it's proven you'll get more work done between 5-9 am than you will the entire day.  

Every business leader has to find their own groove on managing the different areas of their business(es), especially if you plan on participating in more than one business venture. By following simple strategies, you can stay focused and stay on the right path to succeed. 

tips to bring focus to multiple businessesRecognized by the Harvard Business School and Chatelaine Magazine as one of the leading voices for young entrepreneurs and social innovation, Sarah started her entrepreneurial journey when she was in high school, joining the Impact Entrepreneurship Group. She is now a Board Member at Impact, and a founder of award-winning social enterprises like DrinKup and AIDE. In 2010, she launched her startup, Kumarii.com, a global online marketplace that brings emerging fusion designers from around the world to fashion forward consumers. As a Business Strategist, Sarah has worked with Brave Commerce launching the startup in 2011, helping design the go-to-market strategy (acquired by Rogers Media Inc in 2012). Some of her projects include working with MaRS Discovery District, Mantella Venture Partners, and Mezzanine Business Consulting. Sarah holds a BBA (Honours) from the Schulich School of Business.
www.sarahkatyal.com 
@sarahkatyal.